The Logo for Google AppsTo round up my series of interviews from BETT 2012, I have a post today about what I believe is going to be one of the most influential developments in educational technology in the year or so. Whether or not that’s true, it certainly was the most interesting new thing I saw at BETT 2012. It is of course, Google Education.

I saw two or three of the presentations Google gave at their stand, in particular one given by Dana Nguyen on the Google Apps for Education and the Google Certified Teacher programme really stood out. Both of these programs are worth a much closer look.  I’m thinking of blogging about these in the future, so I’ll save the space here and talk about them in depth later. Apart from the fact that I’m quite a fan of Google anyway, I really was impressed by what the company is doing to try and make technology more accessible for students and teachers. In many respects, while the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in teaching is still a “new” innovation, the free services that companies like Google offer can often act as a gateway for teachers to start using technology. This is even more true when the technology being used is the same as, or similar to that which teachers are used to in their everyday lives.
I guess it still remains to be seen whether Google apps for education will end up being as much of a game changer as YouTube, Google Maps, Gmail and the other successful Google services have been. Without a doubt though, the other VLEs like Blackboard, Frog, Moodle and Fronter will be keeping a careful eye on what Google is up to. What’s more, now that Apple have announced their entry into the educational market with their iBooks 2 launch last week, I’m sure that Google are going to continue to press ahead with innovations, making Google Apps for education a very interesting suite of tools to keep an eye on.

On the final day of the BETT show, I was lucky enough to score a bit of a scoop, and I got an interview with William Florance, Google’s Head of Education, for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Apart from the fact that he rushed back from his lunch early so that I could do the interview and catch a train, he seemed like a really nice guy, and as might be expected, a really strong believer in the potential of Google Apps for Education.

So before I pass over to William, I think it’s right to just say in this final BETT post, that the show was incredibly helpful for me as an educator interested in technology. I really highly recommend it to anyone interested in this field. Although the selection of hardware, software and services dedicated to language teaching wasn’t as big as I’d hoped, there is just so much to see, that it really will be a valuable experience to anyone who chooses to go there. There will be something for everyone, I’m quite sure. I’m definitely going again in 2013, if you fancy a coffee and a bit of advice about what to see, I’ll meet you at Excel, London next year!