Google put together the Chromebox for Meetings because high quality video conferencing at the Googleplex (and its far flung satellites) was a pain in the rear.
Too expensive. Too bulky. Too fragile. Too complicated. Too dependent on A/V specialists.
For $999 Google will give you the Chromebox appliance, a good camera, a quality microphone/speaker, and a remote control. After the first year you will pay $250 annually for management and support. The system supports up to 15 users, and the system integrates with Google Hangouts.
What Google is trying to do with Chromebox for Meetings is what Google does best. Take something that was once scarce and make it abundant.
Google does not need to make a ton of money on this platform. All Google needs is to get more eyeballs into the Google ecosystem.
Does the Chromebox for Meetings resonate at all with your higher ed needs?
My first thought is that the 15-person limit means that the platform is not a great fit for synchronous online learning (Adobe Connect being the standard here), but that any university does a heck of a lot of regular video conferencing.
What is more interesting about the Chromebox for Meetings is that Google seems willing to try some new things.
If Google is willing to leverage its server / storage infrastructure to create new services, I can think of (at least) 3 immediate edtech opportunities that should be considered.
EdTech Opportunity #1 - Curricular Media Capture:
Would the Chromebox work as a lecture capture appliance? Why not? We like to have dedicate appliances in our classroom because an appliance is more reliable than depending podium computer.
Right now we buy our appliances from Echo360 or NCast or Crestron.
A Chromebox is cheaper. And a Chromebox should be made to do everything that the specialized lecture / presentation capture appliances can do.
Campus lecture capture is still scarce (and expensive), Google should make it abundant (and cheap).
EdTech Opportunity #2 - Curricular Media Management:
The challenge of managing all the curricular media that we are creating is a problem that one of us have figured out. Each day we create more and more academic media on our campuses. We are recording lectures with our lecture capture systems. Our faculty are creating video and voice over presentations on their laptops. We are recording campus events and guest speakers. We are converting our old media from legacy formats.
How are you storing all this media now? Most of us are uploading the stuff to our spinning disks in our server rooms. Dumping the media in folders. Some of us are using cloud storage services. Often the curricular media stays on faculty hard drives.
The problem is that we can’t find anything. We don’t have a very good tagging system. We can’t do visual search. Nothing is indexed beyond keywords. Finding curricular media means knowing first where to look, and then spending tons of time looking through tons of files until the right one is located.
There has to be a better way, and maybe Google could help. Google should build out its YouTube platform to something that is considerably more robust. With more granularity of controls, more flexibility in storage, and greater options for permissioning and tracking.
Google should let any not-for-profit institution upload as much media as they want to its media management system. No more need to worry about which lectures to save and which to dump. Which project files to preserve and which to delete.
Campus media management is still scarce (and expensive), Google should make it abundant (and cheap).
EdTech Opportunity #3 - Curricular Media Publishing / Distribution:
Now that we have taken care of (at least some) of the media production and ingestion needs (Chromebox), and the media management needs, the only thing left is publishing and distribution.
Why aren’t we using YouTube for all of our campus videos?
Why shouldn’t YouTube be the default platform for everything that we stream, from course lectures to videos placed on library reserve?
Why do we keep paying so much money to media platform vendors to manage and publish our campus videos when Google should be able to do this for free?
Campus media publishing / distribution is still scarce (and expensive), Google should make it abundant (and cheap).
What do you think of these ideas?
How can we engage Google with these ideas?
Who at Google, besides Larry Page, would have the authority and the interest to work with higher ed on these challenges?
What would you like to see Google tackle in the higher ed space?
Does Google have a higher ed strategy?