Google Apps for Education Anticipated to Reach 110 Million Users by 2020
By: Victor D. Alhadeff, CEO of Boost eLearning
Assuming the growth trend line is maintained over the next five years, handing in a paper, and handing it back, may become an entirely paperless event for over 110 million students and teachers by 2020.
Google Apps for Education is a cloud based set of applications that enables teachers and students to communicate, collaborate, and create. Google Apps for Education has seen explosive growth since their introduction in 2010. As a long time training partner with Google, we wanted to better understand the growth in number of users for this amazing tool set.
Google Apps for Education has grown from 8 million users in 2010 to over 40 million users as of February 2015. The user base includes students, faculty, and staff using Google Apps for Education, a free service for schools. This is an astounding 41% growth rate, which has actually started accelerating in the past year. Maintaining this rapid adoption of Google Apps for Education would result in 110 million users by 2020.
The graph above is a polynomial trend line extrapolating the rate of growth since 2011. The foundation for this growth is very strong (see below) and this projection may prove to be conservative. This article will highlight some of the factors that have lead to this massive growth. But first, take a look at the growth trend over the past few years.
Growth Rate by Year
The graph and table below express the growth by year as a percentage increase over the prior year. This tells us the trend for year-to-year growth rate, and most importantly, the recent upswing between 2014 and 2015.
As we analyzed the historical growth rate, and the projected trend line to 2020, we asked ourselves if this is a reasonable projection. We believe this is definitely achievable. The five main factors that make us confident in the future growth of Google Apps for Education are as follows:
- Market size
- Power and quality of Google Apps for Education
- Importance of Google Classroom
- Adoption of Google Chromebooks
Of course, there are other factors such as aging infrastructure; in this report, we wanted to focus on the features that benefit the end user, which ultimately will drive the success of Google Apps for Education into the future.
The potential global market for students is a big one. There are over 865 million students in just the 9 most populated countries. When you include faculty and staff, especially for larger institutions, namely colleges and universities, this number could be over 1 billion worldwide.
To compile this data, we sourced public government reports that outline the amount of students, kindergarten through college, in each respective country.
With a current user base of 45 million, Google Apps for Education’s market penetration is about 4.5%. Yet many of the largest markets are in developing countries. It will be years for the necessary infrastructure and connectivity to be in place for significant usage of technology in the classroom for those countries. What this simply means is that we are looking at a massive market that unfolds over time. As Google Apps for Education becomes standard in developed countries, the service will have large new markets waiting for it further down the road.
As of now, the US market, including K-12 public schools, private schools, and colleges, represents approximately 76 million students. With faculty and staff, the market is 80.5 million potential users.
The graph below is an analysis of the number of students in the United States by grade level.
Power and quality of Google Apps for Education
Google Apps for Education is a complete suite of communication and collaboration cloud applications. Included in the suite are Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Sites, Groups, Google+, and Hangouts. Google Drive includes “The Docs Editors”: Docs, Sheets, Forms, Slides, and Drawings. This a power suite of applications that are heavily integrated with one another for rapid communication and collaboration in the cloud.
What does heavily integrated mean? For example…
Google Calendar sends the students in a class an email reminder about an upcoming Hangout video call, with a link to the video call. In the video call, another student runs a Google Slides presentation and shares her computer screen with the rest of the class so everyone can see her Google Slides presentation.
After the presentation, the teacher sends the class a Google Form to fill out and provide feedback to the student about her presentation. The feedback from the Google Form will automatically output into a Google spreadsheet, which the student can save in her class folder in Google Drive, right next to her Slides presentation file.
It’s integrated, seamless, and works phenomenally well.
The other two critical qualities that Google Apps for Education brings to the table are collaboration, and cloud.
Collaboration is not new to education. “Group projects”―remember those? Prior to cloud storage and real time collaboration, students routinely collaborated on projects by transferring (countless) versions of a document or presentation between their devices using USB drives, or even via email. It was sloppy and tedious. But it was still student collaboration nonetheless.
What’s novel with Google Apps for Education is the ability to bring student and teacher collaboration into the creative process itself. Below is a screenshot of two students editing an essay in Google Docs in real time.
In addition to real time editing, teachers can rapidly review, comment on, and return classwork to students. At first that sounds “nice”, but when you play this out on the ground, it changes the entire class assignment life cycle.
Teachers no longer collect massive stacks of essays and research papers to drag home. It’s all online. And because a teacher’s comments and feedback appear instantly online, students can assimilate the feedback without waiting for the teacher to haul the load of papers back to the classroom.
The feedback exchange is faster. But it’s also deeper. Students can add their own comment replies to the teacher’s feedback comments, creating a back-and-forth dialogue that previously did not exist between teachers and students―save for the ambitious few.
It’s not just Google Docs that offers collaboration in the classroom (although one Google poll indicated it’s the most used of the Docs Editors). Google Drive offers cloud storage and file sharing. Google Sheets brings collaboration to the vast world of spreadsheets. Google Hangouts enables video calls to anyone in the world, including guest speakers, students in other schools, and even just enhanced student-to-student collaboration from home. Collaboration is the theme underlying the entire Google Apps for Education service.
The other game-changing quality is that Google Apps for Education is cloud based. We believe Google for Apps for Education is finding its way into so many schools because the service is matching a timely demand in the education sphere. The fact that classwork, projects, and other resources are all stored in the cloud, satisfies the growing demand for 1:1 (one device per student) technology programs in schools.
Pedagogical considerations aside, the cloud-based service also frees up valuable resources once IT staff no longer have to run costly software updates. Google runs an ongoing update and feature enhancement rollout to the already robust service. You might say it’s an “evolving service” with no particular version number.
We attribute the major upswing in growth rates from 2014 to 2015 to the release of Google Classroom, which was introduced in the summer of 2014. Google Classroom is another free app that empowers teachers to save time, keep classes organized, and improve communication with their students. Some call it an LMS (Learning Management System), but Google states that Classroom can be used in conjunction with a school’s existing LMS.
Google defines Google Classroom as
“…a new tool in Google Apps for Education that helps teachers create and organize assignments quickly, provide feedback efficiently, and easily communicate with their classes.”
Google Classroom does all of that by creating centralized pages, similar to a Google+ or Facebook page, for each teacher’s class. Student’s and teachers can then post messages to the class stream, including links to almost any digital resource on the internet.
More importantly, however, is that Classroom is highly integrated into Google Drive and the Google Docs editors. Using Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Forms, teachers can seamlessly organize class files, enter grades, and assign, comment on, and review classwork. All through Google Classroom.
Teachers from Google Classroom’s pilot schools reported higher class participation once students were given the chance to make their questions and comments online. Of course Google Classroom can help focus the attention-starved technology generation, but on a personality level as well, many introverted students who would not have raised their hand or voiced their thoughts and questions in class are able to comfortably do so via Google Classroom.
Since the functionality in Google Classroom was designed based on interviews and feedback from schools and teachers, Classroom’s feature set aims to solve their pain points.
To demonstrate the power and functionality of Google Classroom, here is a partial sampling from Boost eLearning’s Google Classroom course contents (release date: September 2015):
Lesson 3 Managing a Class
Change class theme
Add or change your profile photo
Remove a student from a class
Enable or disable email notifications
Rename a class
Archive or delete a completed class
Lesson 4 Communicating with a Class
Post an announcement
Insert a file, YouTube video, or URL link
Set post and comment permissions for a class
Reply to a student’s comments
Delete a comment or post
Mute or unmute a student
Lesson 5 Working with Assignments
Add an assignment
Edit an assignment
Plan ahead with drafts
Grade and return an assignment
Save grades to a Google spreadsheet or csv file
Track reviewed and unreviewed assignments
Educators hope to remove many learning barriers for both teachers and students by leveraging these modern web technologies.
In 2014, Virginia’s Chesterfield County Public Schools announced that it was launching the largest education deployment of Chromebooks to date. Adam Seldow, executive director of technology of Chesterfield County Public Schools, said
“We began using Google Apps for Education originally because we needed digital creation tools that were both robust and easy to use, as well as immediately scalable to 60,000 students and over 7,000 staff members.”
Their manager of instructional technology, Matthew D’Ascoli, said that their technology changes were because of a change in thinking.
“We’re shifting to the idea that technology is part of our tier one instruction. It’s part of where we introduce information. It’s making our teachers more efficient, it’s making our teachers more effective,” D’Ascoli.
Google Apps for Education is leading the way for schools who are changing the way they think about education and technology.
Since Google Apps are stored, run, and accessed through the cloud, a student only needs a device with internet access to get started. Chromebooks are low cost, fast, and easy-to-use notebooks that meet the requirements of most students.
Image: Chesterfield County Public Schools
Because Chromebooks offer a welcomed solution at low cost, there is growing interest in Chromebooks for schools. Google reports more than 1 million Chromebooks sold in Q2 of 2014. The obvious software solution for school districts deploying Chromebooks is Google Apps for Education.
But it’s not only Chromebooks. Google Apps are designed to work on any internet-ready device, which fits the bill for the BYOD (bring your own device) programs many schools are adopting. This device flexibility removes another potential obstacle for Google Apps for Education dominating the growing market for educational technologies. But what about price?
When it comes to user growth, the price of Google Apps for Education adds no friction. The entire collaborative suite is free for students and teachers. And the complementary Google Chromebooks start at a mere $149.
We believe that a massive and developing market, paired with an all-accessible and robust apps suite at low cost is a winning combination. That combo is earning Google Apps for Education an explosive surge in user growth, with projected figures exceeding 110 million users by 2020.
About the Author
As the founder of Egghead Software, Victor Alhadeff, CEO of Boost eLearning, says his children were early users of computers. “It was a big deal to type a report on a word processor. Today, my grandchildren from 1st grade to recent high school graduates are using Google Apps for Education to create documents that astound me.” Victor says it’s his family’s personal experience seeing Google Apps for Education in the school setting that makes him believe the projected growth he’s reporting is a conservative projection.
About Boost eLearning
Boost eLearning, a Google for Work and Google for Education partner, recognizes the challenges of change management and the importance of online training to empower both new and experienced Google Apps users to benefit from the full functionality of Google Apps for Work and Google Apps for Education. Since 2010 Boost eLearning has been providing end user training to thousands of organizations and millions of users. The recent increase in demand for faculty and staff training on Google Apps resulted in this analysis, and an update to their offering that meets the needs of the growing base of schools going Google.
Have some fun and watch this Google for Education 101 video, in 101 seconds.