Microsoft v. Google battle for students

Microsoft and Google are giving technology to schools and colleges in hopes of winning students’ minds, reports the San Jose Mercury News.

With the recession taking a bite out of university endowments and public school budgets alike, the competition between Google and Microsoft to convert the nation’s colleges, universities and schools to the companies’ free e-mail and other IT services that run on the Internet “cloud” — outsourcing that can save a large university hundreds of thousands of dollars a year — has only grown more fierce.

. . . Just a year ago, (Jay) Martino’s sixth-graders would have generated reams of paper as they researched mummies, Cleopatra and King Tut. This fall, the students’ work exists on the “cloud” — bits of data flowing across Google’s network, accessible from any computer with a Web browser and a password.

Microsoft also provides cloud-based educational software, Live@edu, to schools for free.

“The benefit to Microsoft is that students are able to get familiar with Microsoft technology and be more ready for the work force,” said Anna Kinney, director of Live@edu. “Students graduate from college and go into the work force, ready on Day One to work on Microsoft products.”

In light of this post, note that Microsoft has joined the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, while Google has held back.

Update: The Daily Riff is concerned about conflicts between Bill Gates’ education philanthropy, which has made him very influential in policy debates, and his role as chairman of Microsoft.

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  1. Michael E. Lopez says:

    I’ve a vague distaste for the corporatization of education.

    But that’s nothing compared to the distaste I have for “cloud” data storage as a substitute for a hard drive in your closet.

    When someone else physically possesses your data, they can take it away from you. They can be careless with it, too.

    You want “cloud” networks? Great. Upload a copy of what you’re working on. But make regular, secure local backups of EVERYTHING. And put absolutely nothing you would ever want to be even the slightest bit secure on a cloud network. It’s a good habit to assume that everything you put up there will be read by 100,000 people. It won’t, because no one cares about your King Tut experiment, but it’s a good habit nonetheless.

    THAT would be a good lesson to be teaching 6th graders.

  2. Deirdre Mundy says:

    Is this any different from when Apple gave all those free computers to schools? It took me years to get over my “Apple is the only way!” bias…. because from Kindergarten on, it was ALL apple….

  3. Aeiluindae says:

    Cloud storage isn`t all bad, especially in a school situation. My high school computer courses made significant use of Google Docs, Groups, and many other online services for collaborative work, and it made things much easier and more productive.


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