Johnathon Martin - Oct 18, 2019

Google vs Microsoft for Education

If you work in education, you’ll know that there are many applications, services, products and tools created to serve a multitude of functions in education.

Tools for teaching and learning, parent-teacher communication apps, lesson planning software, home-tutoring websites, revision blogs, SEND education information, professional development qualifications and more.

There are so many companies creating new products for education, that it can be difficult to keep up, especially with the significant volumes of planning, marking and meetings that teachers have to do, never mind finding the time to teach.

So how do you know which ones are the best?

As a business that is passionate about education and learning, we carried out some research to help schools understand the options open to them. In this post we look at two of the biggest education software companies and compare their offerings to see how they help teachers and students alike.

Google

Google is all about scope. They develop devices and software to serve hundreds of millions around the world and the compatibility, ease of use, and licensing to other manufacturers are why they’ve succeeded in achieving that goal. Their skill at managing huge device and software deployment are what has sent them to the top of the education technology rankings.

Hardware:

Google’s Chromebooks and Android devices are having a significant impact on UK classrooms. The key to their success is that they are easy to deploy and manage. They are also generally more cost effective than most classroom devices.

Workflow:

Google Classroom is the learning management system (LMS) that all other LMS tools aspire to be, or at least be connected to. You can manage student workflow, grades, post material, and link assessments and Google are updating it continuously. Watch Google Classroom 101 or visit the training centre for more information.

Productivity:

Google’s suite of apps may not have all of the functionality of other platforms, but they make up for it with simplicity, compatibility, and ease of use and collaboration.

Visual Learning:

Jamboard is Google’s entrance into the interactive display market. The board itself isn’t that impressive as many of the features have been common to SMARTBoard for some time. But as you would expect from a Google product, it does perform written collaboration well.

Portfolios:

Google Sites can be used to create multimedia student portfolios.

Assessment:

With recent improvements, Google Forms has become a well-rounded assessment resource capable of differentiation, game-based learning and artificial intelligence.

Creativity:

The Google Draw app offers basic art tools while the Chrome Music Lab is good for early childhood understanding of music.

Computer Science:

Google hopes to inspire students to have positive digital citizenship skills. They encourage coding through their CS First initiative that gives the tools for creating coding clubs and leans heavily on the Scratch platform. They also have an applied digital skills curriculum that covers a variety of technical problem-solving skills necessary for success.

Mixed Reality:

Google has several tools for exploring our world in innovative ways, namely; Google Tour Creator Google Expeditions.

Microsoft

The great strength of Microsoft, is that their holistic approach is not just about technology but starting with pedagogy, training for teachers, and the right structure to support student success.

Hardware:

Windows devices, that many teachers are used to, can do a lot more with recent updates to Windows 10 and Office 365 and the Surface is an impressive machine. Also, there are many other vendors offering Windows 10 systems which gives them the greatest variety of configuration options, though the variety can lead to inconsistent experiences for users. Their systems are easy to set up and manage quickly.

Workflow Management:

The Microsoft Classroom experiment died, but Teams took its place and it offers a fully-fledged collaboration Learning Management System with built-in Skype video conferencing, OneNote integration, and shared storage. You can connect staff, classes, and personal learning communities.

Productivity:

Microsoft’s productivity suite is a fully-featured package, but you give up a little in simplicity. Office 365 does offer collaboration, but it isn’t quite as intuitive as Google yet. OneNote remains the stand out as a multimedia lesson creation and delivery tool, especially with its built-in accessibility.

Visual Learning:

OneNote offers a wide variety of ways to easily present multimedia content to students.

Creativity:

Windows Media Player, Movie Maker, Windows Paint, and Paint 3D offer the ability to create and edit a range of multimedia.

Computer Science:

Microsoft’s MakeCode platform was created for coding instruction alongside their curriculum. You may also consider Minecraft EDU as it also offers a Code Builder.

Project-based Learning:

Microsoft offers many great lessons which focus on the skills that children need for success.

Game-based Learning:

With Microsoft Minecraft EDU they have truly tapped into the current trend of visual programming, grabbing the attention of younger learners.

Mixed Reality:

Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are the high-end in the Virtual Reality education market. You can create 3D experiences directly in the Windows 10 Photos app. They also offer the Hololens which, though still not totally prime-time ready, shows us what’s possible for the future of education.

Accessibility:

The Immersive Reader is one of Microsoft’s best learning accessibility features to launch  in recent months and now works across all of the Office 365 apps. With Office Lens, their accessibility checker, and a full suite of accessibility options they have shown that making learning available to all is a high priority.

Training:

Microsoft’s online training platform is probably the best because it offers far more than training on their tools. You can learn about general pedagogy and instructional practices as well as becoming MIE Certified. They also engage in personal development partnership, in-person training, and offer visits to showcase schools like other platforms.

Our Verdict

Both G Suite and Microsoft Office 365 can compete with one another across the board.

Google comes out on top in terms of collaboration and ease of use, while Microsoft strengths lie in offering a suite that is feature rich and capable of processing detailed documents and large amounts of data.

Organisations currently using Google's email client will find it an easy transition to move further down the G Suite path, with the same being relevant for those currently using Microsoft's Outlook email client.

For organisations wanting a cloud-based suite of applications that is simple to use for teachers and pupils alike, Google is the ideal option. It’s approach is particularly attractive to those looking for a clean and responsive productivity suite. That being said, Microsoft Office 365's user interface is one that most teachers and administrators will be familiar with, drawing on Microsoft's extensive experience with productivity tools.

The Good News

The PTCloud hosting platform from PrimaryTec seamlessly integrates both Google G Suite and Office 365. This ensures that the appropriate solution can be used in the most relevant department of the school, whether back office, for management or in the classroom. Google’s G Suite platform is designed for the classroom and allows teachers and pupils to seamlessly interact across devices from any location. Microsoft’s Office 365 platform is designed for education, however it is more of a fit in the administration areas of the school where the full office suite is often used on a daily basis.

Find out more about our PTCloud service here or to get in touch with one of the sales team.

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Written by Johnathon Martin

A former teacher, SLT member and IT lead, now Google Certified Trainer looking after our clients as head of the Client Success Team