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An Education Potential for Google's Nexus 7 Tablet?
June 27, 2012 - 9:00pm

Dear Google.

Congratulations on your release of the Nexus 7 tablet. At $199 bucks at launch you have done the first important thing - keep the costs down. The hardware specs seem reasonable, and I expect that the Nexus 7 will work really well as a media consumption and gaming device.

My question to you, Google, is if you have thought about the Nexus 7 as an educational device? 

I can't help but to be disappointed that "education" or "learning" is not one of the categories in the new Google Play store.  These categories include: music, books, magazines, movies & tv, android apps, and devices.  Games are featured prominently in the apps section.

What could be included in an "education" or "learn" content / application section?  Some ideas:

Courses:  Google could invest in partnerships with the large public and for-profit open online courses to build an Android app around these courses. An Android app, built to work seamlessly with the Nexus 7, could put a consistent user experience and navigation around courses from edX, Coursera, Udacity and other players in this open education space.  

Badging and Transcripts:  How about an Android app that interacts with the "courses app" to keep track of performance in the courses.  The app could dynamically build a transcript and deliver badges in a standard format.  Users (learners) could have the option of making their badges and transcript data public to employers.  Google may have failed in its medical record initiative with Google Health, but they could succeed in creating a new education credentialing and transcript platform.   

Coursepacks:  Google could enter into partnerships with the big coursepack providers (XanEdu,, even Harvard's case study division) to provide students with digital coursepacks.  Google has the resources and scale to pull in the various journal publishers and academic database providers to make possible the purchasing, licensing and distribution of non-textbook curricular content (journal articles, magazine articles, case studies, etc. etc.).  The current coursepack market is fragmented, difficult to navigate, overly expensive for students, and labor intensive.   If Google paired its tablet device with a coursepack service they would make the Nexus 7 much more attractive to both individual students and perhaps institutional purchasers.

Open Textbooks:  If I were Google I'd set aside a big chunk of the Nexus 7 marketing money to create a full suite of open source textbooks.  These textbooks could be optimized for the Nexus 7 and include high quality rich media learning objects.   The actual cost for creating a robust set of digital textbooks would actually be quite reasonable.   Google could focus on the textbooks for the biggest enrollment introductory courses, and could give the digital textbooks away with each student purchase of a Nexus 7.  The private textbook market for niche and long tail digital textbooks would soon migrate to the Android platform if a critical mass of free introductory textbooks pushed adoption of the Nexus 7.

Of course I would love to see Google port a version of Moodle to Android.  A game changer would be a "GMoodle", optimized for the Nexus 7 and the Chromebook, and offered free to institutions and individuals as a cloud based LMS (learning management system).

To quote from the mission statement, "Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful." 

Isn't the growing world of open online education part of the "world's information"? 


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