A lot of people panicked at the end of 2015 about stories in the media about Google planning to kill the Chrome OS that runs Chromebooks. Well, not kill, but merge with their Android operating system.
One group that would be hurt by that is schools. Many schools have invested in Chromebooks as an inexpensive platform for student computing. Purchases increased in the past two years due to the tech requirement for districts needing to administer the computer-based PARCC exam as part of the Common Core State Standards.
Some people have predicted that the Chromebook is headed to the "Google Graveyard," a virtual place filled with projects that the company launched, promoted and then pulled the plug on.
Do you remember Jaiku, Knol, Picnik, Reader or Wave? They are just a few of the big and small projects moved to the graveyard. The real tragedy is when educators invest time and effort, if not money, into building programs around any piece of free software or service, only to have it and their program fade into the tech sunset.
Well, that's not the case with Chromebooks, according to a Google blog post saying that it is still committed to Chrome OS. "Over the last few days, there's been some confusion about the future of Chrome OS and Chromebooks based on speculation that Chrome OS will be folded into Android. While we've been working on ways to bring together the best of both operating systems, there's no plan to phase out Chrome OS."
The company has said before that it had plans to merge Chrome OS and Android. (In June 2014 at it's Google I/O conference, they showed an example with a beta method to run Android apps on Chromebooks.)
Still, the sunsetting of technology and in this case the sunset kills of Google products and services can wreak havoc in a school or company that relies on them.
Still, I am encouraged by Google's constant search for new thing and services. I recently read about Fluency Tutor™ which helps teachers to help struggling readers by making reading aloud more fun and satisfying. It is especially for struggling and reluctant readers, as well as students learning English as a second language.
Students record themselves reading and then share with the teacher, but in a way that is separate from the pressures of reading aloud in class. When I taught middle school, it was apparent very quickly which students dreaded having to read aloud in class. I knew that the experience was important to their learning, but also saw the pain it caused some kids.
Fluency Tutor works best for schools using Google Apps for Education (GAFE) as it integrates with Google Drive and Google Classroom. It works with most online content, so it can be used along with other online instructional programs.
Let's hope that if teachers implement it, it survives.
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