Google is Also Targeting Creators in New Education Push

Posted on May 17, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Cloud, Dev, Mobile with 55 Comments

Google is Also Targeting Creators in New Education Push

You have to give Google some credit: There is no idea from its competitors that is too good to steal. And so it is now with the search giant’s latest educational push, which mimics Microsoft’s creators strategy and language.

“We need to cultivate a new generation of problem-solvers, storytellers, and creative minds to tackle our next problems at scale,” Google VP of Engineering for Kids and Families Pavni Diwanji explains. “It’s not just about coding and programming computers, it’s about helping students learn skills they’ll need to approach problems in a fundamentally different way across every discipline from business to engineering to the arts.”

Yes. Google has a VP of Engineering for Kids and Families. Let that one sink in for a few moments.

The Google post linked above is tied to Google I/O Youth, part of “a longstanding effort” to get ’em while they’re young. Or, as Google describes it, “to get more students excited about where technology can take them.” Almost 150 5th-7th graders from schools in the Bay Area are joining Google to sign their souls away. Sorry, “to explore activities focused on digital storytelling, inventing, science, and coding.”

Granted, there are only so many ways to describe an audience, and while I sort of cringe at the term “creators,” for whatever reason, it’s broadly descriptive and does neatly encapsulate the remaining strengths of the PC. Which is, of course, why Google is going for this particular jugular.

So, read the Google post, see what they’re doing, and think about how this compares to Microsoft’s recent push for both EDU and, at Build, developers. This is very much about Google trying to take down Microsoft.


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Comments (55)

55 responses to “Google is Also Targeting Creators in New Education Push”

  1. wolters

    "Google has a VP of Engineering for Kids and Families"

    While not 100% related to this article, this makes me think of Microsoft's excellent but little talked about Microsoft Family Safety. I use it for my 9 year old daughter who has a Surface Pro 3, XBOX and an unactivated Lumia 640. Family Safety works seamlessly across all three devices and it is awesome. If she wants more screen time or access to a website, she requests it and I approve or deny via an email.

    Going back to Google and Chrome, a Chromebook has a supervised user option that does pretty much the same thing.

    I'd like to see them push Family Safety with Windows 10s.

    Back to your article...I don't want to be a Debbie Downer but Microsoft has it's work cut out for itself. I know several IT Directors from local school districts and they didn't even pay attention to this and are firmly in the Chromebook world.

    I myself am very cautious but supportive of Microsoft's efforts. I just can't get excited about them much these days.

    • kzrystof

      In reply to wolters:

      +1 Regarding the Family Safety issue. When I handed my Lumia 1520 to my daughter, I configured the phone with her outlook account. I am not sure why, but I did not expect the OS to recognize that it was a child account. But it did and as such, she is not allowed to go on websites unless it has been approved by me. Same for the Xbox which I applied time constraints when she can play or watch TV. Maybe it has been there for a long time, I don't know, but it is very interesting to see how this can be publicized in Windows 10 S. It can be so useful for a lot of parents.

      • wolters

        In reply to kzrystof:

        Microsoft Family Safety is extremely underrated. But so was Windows Phone, Zune, Windows Media Center, Windows Live Essentials, Kinect and the list goes on.

    • Ezzy Black

      In reply to wolters:

      I recently challenged a teacher, who's opinion was "Chromebooks are easier for teachers" to stand up in her next PTA meeting and ask all the parents how many of them used Chromebooks at work.

      Then I told her to ask her school why they were teaching the children on Chromebooks.

      In the fifth grade, in the mid 90's, my daughter brought home a disk from school. On it was a Powerpoint presentation (of fifth-grade quality). That was a useful skill to learn in her computer lab that day. I'm sure she still creates presentations to this day in her work.

      The point is your school system uses Chromebooks because they are cheap as hell. It doesn't matter that the computer education is third-rate, they get to stand-up at the school board meeting and tell you how many new "computers" they bought for the students.

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  3. Jules Wombat

    At least we can expect Google IO to be rather more interesting than last weeks tediously dull Build. Google have a better start and direction in Education. Microsoft trying to pinch Google market, will come up short with another bloated Windows.

  4. Tony Barrett

    The whole 'creators' thing is just poor. The way MS protrayed the last big update the 'Creator's Update' was plain misleading and wrong. It was just a patch that didn't make anyone a creator or even stimulate a creative bone. Now we have the 'Fall Creator's' update to look forward to. Oh dear.

    Yeah, Google don't want to go down this path either, but rather than shoving a 3D version of paint into their O/S and thinking 'job done', may Google have better idea's about getting the kids into technology, ways that really matter and make a difference. Who knows, but they can't do any worse than MS.

  5. Jorge Garcia

    That little boy's facial expression reminds me of Paul's...when he's on WhatTheTech, especially lol. Hate to beat a dead horse (for me), but is that it for I/O's revelations???...STILL no Android for laptops? what a shame, Google. Saving Defeat from the jaws of Victory.

  6. Winner

    Love you Paul, but it's kind of rich talking about people copying Microsoft, the king of copy.

    Bing. Zune. AppStore. Walled Garden. Graphical UI. All Microsoft copying of others.

    And how is Google copying Microsoft in education when Google has a much larger market share and Microsoft is copying many elements of ChromeOS?

  7. MutualCore

    Microsoft needs a 'power wash' feature for Intune that can reset machines from a central admin portal like Google's Admin console.

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  11. Josh Edwards

    Google has been making huge advances into the K-12 training part with its ease and simple to-oversee Chromebooks. As per IDC's most recent numbers,, Chromebooks spoke to 49 percent of that market a year ago, up from 40 percent in 2015 and only 9 percent in 2013.

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  20. Bats

    I know why Paul cringes at the word "creators." I believe it's because he doesn't feel that he is a creator.

    Ya know...I was laughing when I read this. It's because, what exactly did Paul expect? Microsoft does it too! The only thing, is that Microsoft is ridiculously terrible at it. Zune, Windows Phone, Bing,'s a long list of failure after failure.

    Seriously, though...what did Paul or anyone expect? We are talking about the tech industry and it happens all the time. Steve Jobs said it best, good artists create, great artists steal. Microsoft should know this because they famously did it to Apple.

    The underlying note of all this, is that all this actually good for everybody. It's called competition. Now Microsoft has to make sure that THEY'RE program is better than Google's and vice versa. Who benefits? The World. 

    Apple should get in on this too.

    • normcf

      In reply to Bats:

      If you're going to SHOUT a word, at least get the right word :)

    • skane2600

      In reply to Bats:

      Job's logic escapes me. Merely "good" creations magically become "great" after being stolen. Sounds like an excuse worthy of Rocket:

      "Question. What if I see something that I wanna take and it belongs to someone else?"

      "Then you will be arrested."

      "But what if I want it more than the person who has it?"

      "Still illegal."

      "That doesn't follow. No, I want it more, sir. Do you understand me? 

    • Jorge Garcia

      In reply to Bats:

      I'm curious if you are suggesting that Microsoft "stole" the Windowed GUI paradigm from Apple? Everybody, who reads Thurrott at least, should know that it is absolutely not the case. Xerox PARC engineers devised the interface before anyone else, and both Apple and Microsoft "stole" it from them. Other companies were even working on GUI's before Apple's own "revelation".

      • Winner

        In reply to Jorge Garcia:

        Apple saw the Xerox UI but added substantial elements to that interface, including folders.

        Windows was a more blatant ripoff of Apple than Apple was of Xerox.

      • rickcosby

        In reply to Jorge Garcia:

        Apple actually bought the ideas from Xerox. They were traded Apple stock and Apple had access to their research.

        • Jorge Garcia

          In reply to rickcosby:

          My understanding was that Steve Jobs "allowed" Xerox to buy the Apple stock they wanted, in exchange for a tour of PARC....that's a bit different than what you state. Xerox brass was too stupid to realize that Apple would immediately crib all of their best ideas.

  21. F4IL

    It's good to see competition in this segment.

  22. BoItmanLives

    Microsoft's recent "push" for EDU? What push? They removed the desktop icon from Windows 10, added an "S" at the end and called it a day. Not sure what schools should take notice of. If anything, this past week's global windows malware crisis reinforces why schools should stay far away from bloated old x86 windows and its decades of unsecure legacy code.

    If anyone is "taking down" Microsoft, it it Microsoft. From within. Lack of any real innovation or effort in the markets they claim to want to get into. Same thing happened with their failed mobile "push": they never really tried.

    • jnaab

      In reply to BoItmanLives:

      Maybe I missed something, but isn't the purpose of Windows 10S to ensure users "stay far away from bloated old x86 windows and its decades of unsecure legacy code?"

    • Payton

      In reply to BoItmanLives:

      I worked with Microsoft for several years when I was IT Director at a school in the Midwest and I can attest that they have devoted a lot of resources to the education space over a span of several years, not just recently. Look into OneNote Class Notebooks to see one of the most powerful and least known educational tools available, free and usable across many platforms. Like OneNote originally, it is one of the best things they have ever created and never publicized.

    • Munsey Slack

      In reply to BoItmanLives:

      Why is the recent "WannaCry" event Microsoft's fault? They issued a patch almost two months ago and their systems are designed to deploy that update automatically. Anyone affected by the exploit has only themselves to blame since they assumed responsibility for the infection when they opted to disable automatic updates.

      • SvenJ

        In reply to Munsey Slack: There is a lot of conflicting information on WannaCry, but it appears to target XP, Win 8 and Server 2003, so not only have the folks opted to not install updates on 8 and 2003, they are using the clearly unsupported XP. (Kudos to MS for releasing a patch anyway) Everyone seems to be complaining about MSs intention of getting everyone up to date and keeping them there 'forcibly'. Clearly the masses need this, as they aren't doing it on their own.

        • siko

          In reply to SvenJ:

          Yes, auto updating/home phoning OS software is a developers wet dream... fix bugs and patch as fast as you can, with most users never hitting those problems.....UNLESS they break that cycle or don't update to Windows v. last.

          But then they are still in danger if the keep using apps that might cause problems (other browser notoriously) ... wel... the next wet dream I guess is the safe and efficient client edge.... that can't be changed.... ah, That's W10S!

          That's taking the user's computing experience from a performance and security perspective seriously! Thank you Microsoft!

  23. James Wilson

    I love Google's commitment to kids. Like the kids google account that is globally available. Allows kids to consume google services / buy from store etc on Android, with parents able to fund their wallet, track their mobile, set time limits and so on. No tracking of the little darlings allowed etc. Oh wait.....that's a Microsoft feature that spans its desktop, tablet oh, and its 'failed' mobile platform.

    If there was any reason for Windows 10 mobile to be successful, it's this.

    • Munsey Slack

      In reply to James Wilson:

      I wish I could upvote this one to infinity. MS Family Safety is why I'm forcing my 14 and 11 year old son's to use W10M phones (much to the 14 year old's embarassement) and why all our devices are W10 or Xbox. It's a better ecosystem for parents and provides all the tools they need for school.

  24. Waethorn

    "it’s about helping students learn skills they’ll need to approach problems in a fundamentally different way"

    "get more students excited about where technology can take them"

    I cringe at both of these statements. Children should learn skills from people, not technology. They don't need to "think different" - they just need to THINK. Ditto for the parents, which seems to be the source of child social problems lately.

    • skane2600

      In reply to Waethorn:

      I think a combination is fine, but I agree that the advantages of technology in education has always been exaggerated. Even Radio and TV were touted as revolutionizing education.

      • Waethorn

        In reply to skane2600:

        Much like TV, objective people just see it as a babysitter. We're just getting into technology trends, but when the fad of things like Facebook fades (and it's starting to go), people will realize it's much the same.

  25. Waethorn

    Ask yourself this about your child's school technology adoption program: Who does it benefit more? The student, or the teacher?

    • Payton

      In reply to Waethorn:

      It absolutely all depends on the implementation. Most school tech programs that I have seen have been implemented poorly and for the wrong reasons. If real thought is given to the tools and how they can benefit or hinder each teacher, then prudent decisions can be made about implementation. I have always stressed "appropriate technology" in the classrooms where I implemented these programs. This means, simply, use the right tools that best help you achieve whatever your educational goals are, and do NOT just use tools for any other reason. I have actively discouraged teachers from using tech for tech's sake or "because it will help engage the students," when the end result would be no educational gain and lots of lost class time learning and using it.

      And for karma77police, Microsoft has an unparalleled free educational offering in OneNote Class Notebooks, part of O365 for Education. It is too bad that they aren't publicizing it more, but it has been a game changer for many, many teachers and students.

  26. red.radar

    "Yes. Google has a VP of Engineering for Kids and Families. Let that one sink in for a few moments"

    I bet the Ink isn't dry on this guys business card.

  27. MikeGalos

    We DO have a clear demarcation between the big 3 tech companies

    Microsoft invents it

    Google steals it

    Apple steals it and claims they invented it

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