From Google Apps for Education initiative which provides organized Google Services for “free” to any school, to their Chromebook initiatives, Google has always been flirting with making a major push into the education field. Today they unveiled their latest foray into the market and it is a big one: Google Classroom.
One of the things Google Apps provided people when you look at it holistically is a LMS. The same (or similar) functionality that schools pay companies like Blackboard hundreds of thousands of dollars was being offered for “free” (I use free in quotes since they do use data as a payment). The one thing that was really missing was a front end. An organization point that would allow teachers to flow their content together. There were companies that were able to fill this gap but again you were back to paying money.
Now it looks like Google is finally providing that front end. Google Classroom appears to create an organization structure for teachers to share documents and provide feedback to their students.
Creating a course site with Google Sites, assigning Google Docs for students to complete and keeping track of their progress with a Gradebook Google Sheet is a pretty powerful combination especially with the hope of a simple front end that Classroom is promising to provide. I only hope it is more successful than their last foray into education with Open Class. Open Class was a fully functional “free” LMS that found Google partnering with Pearson which is one of the largest book publishers on the planet. It was a wonderful idea, but when you factor in the possibility of having to be stuck with a single textbook provider for an entire school, many organizations passed and passed quickly.
It’s still in the reveal phase so I’m not sure schools will instantly dump their current LMS choice, but it will certainly be a major influence as it grows and develops. With the market in a high state of flux with many companies leaving the current market leader, Blackboard, for many of its competitors, (Instructure Canvas, Desire2Learn, Moodle, etc.) having Google wade into the fray may further result in more market instability.
Hopefully soon we can get a real in depth look at it