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6 Questions I'd Ask Google's Education Boss
February 14, 2012 - 9:00pm

Imagine that you had the opportunity to spend 30 minutes with the person who runs Google's higher education business. What would you ask?   

Some ideas to get us started:

1. Why So Polite? Google's ambitions in education seem to be curiously limited. Google's stated mission is to "organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful."  Should the information produced from higher education be included under this umbrella?  Google has been willing to take risks with investing in video (buying YouTube) and scanning books, but what risks have they taken in making learning available to everyone on the web? Isn't there room for Google to bring its advertising revenue model to higher education?   We are an industry that wants to be disrupted (we are confident we will evolve), but we need partners like Google to make this happen.

2.  Chromebook: The Chromebook just has not lived up to its potential in higher ed. Do you see lots of Chromebooks running around your campus? (I see lots of Macs and iPads). What would the Chromebook look like if it were designed specifically for education, and Google put the resources into the product necessary for it to be awesome? Maybe Google should break with tradition and go all transparent with the Chromebook. Talk about the roadmap in advance. Let the community understand the costs of components and manufacturing. The Chromebook, after all, does not need to make money on its own as a product.   Rather, all the Chromebook needs to do is get people in the Google ecosystem (so they can view Google keyword advertising).  This seems like an opportunity.

3. The "Google Device": We keep hearing about this new Google device. The NYTimes calls this a "home entertainment device". Entertainment? Really? Does the world need another entertainment device?   Why not build this hardware around education? What would a tablet built from the ground up for education look like? Could Google make it inexpensive and robust enough to replace paper textbooks and coursepacks, while being built for collaboration and creation?

4. Android for Education: What if the mobile device is the classroom of the 21st century? What if education in emerging economies for the billions of near poor people was mediated primarily by the smart phone?  What if education really will be the most important business the next 50 years? Wouldn't it make sense to see the Android OS as an educational platform?   

5. The YouTube and Lecture Capture Opportunity: This seems like such a natural fit that I can't believe that Google has not made this leap. Combine lecture capture with YouTube/EDU. Make a huge contribution to the open education movement. The formula is simple. Offer grants to higher ed to pay for lecture capture equipment and services, reimbursing in proportion to the amount of lecture materials that a school (or an individual professor) chooses to share. If a school puts up 100% of lectures to YouTube/EDU (free and open to the public), then Google will reimburse for 100% of the costs. Google would get bulk discounts for the lecture capture providers, bringing down the cost per captured and shared lecture. Captioning makes these presentations accessible.   Advertise against the lectures to defer the costs. A win for open education, higher ed budgets, and Google.

6. Where Are the Big Ideas? Do the folks at Google think higher ed, as we do it now, is just fine? Do they think anything needs to change? Do they see any imperative to improve learning, drive down costs, and improve access? Do they believe that Google can play a role in change? Are Google's higher ed ambitions limited only to Apps for Education? Or does Google, with all its wealth, smart people and existing technologies have a role to play in bringing the benefits of higher education to the world?

What is missing from this list? 

What do you want to know from Google?

 

 

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