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Google and Microsoft Make Big EdTech Announcements

Both Google and Microsoft have made announcements today regarding new offerings for the education community.

Google Announces New Chromebooks

Google has announced two new Chromebooks: the Acer Chromebook Spin 11 and the Asus Chromebook Flip C213. According to The Verge, these new devices are "ruggedized" to ensure IT departments have minimal problems fixing devices after student-related accidents. Also according to The Verge, the bigger announcement has to do with new details concerning Chrome OS.

The big message, the site says, is that "Android apps are going to be available on these and all future Chromebooks — and Google says that it has improved the software for managing them. So, for example, a teacher will be able to deploy Android apps for students to use ahead of time so they don't have to wait for them to download when they log in to their computers."

The announcements are designed to continue the Chromebook's stronghold on the education market, which many estimate could be representative of half of the entire market.

Microsoft Unveils Devices With Prices Comparable to Chromebook

On that note, Microsoft has made some announcements of its own that are intended to make it a stronger competitor to stand-up against the Chromebook's dominance.

Today, Microsoft announced the release of Intune for Education, "a new cloud-based application and device management service that is built on the proven Microsoft Intune service, offering easy setup and management in shared learning environments," said the company on its official blog.

Microsoft also announced for the first time an under $200 computer to compete with the low prices of Chromebook.

"Also, in partnership with OEMs, we are delighted to announce that starting at just $189, Windows 10 PCs are available today from Acer, HP and Lenovo, with many devices featuring Windows Ink, touch support and with great designs that are perfect for the classroom," Microsoft said.

These new Windows 10 devices, Microsoft says, are a better alternative to the Chromebook because they are now offered at comparable pricing with all of the advantages that come with using Windows.

Minecraft: Education Edition Updates Announced

Microsoft also announced today several updates to Minecraft: Education Edition, an edition designed for the country's educators and launched for school-use in November.

The updates include new teacher features made in response to suggestions, including a "Global Pause" for better activity transition and a series of new items. Another update includes the expansion of the Minecraft community by "expanding the Minecraft Mentor program to include 60 Global Minecraft Mentors representing 18 countries around the world."

Microsoft said these updates are part of its mission to continue connecting students and educators around the world and that more updates will be coming in the next couple months.

Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor

1/24/2017

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