Google Takes Aim

I recently noticed that I’m more and more frequently opting to use Google Docs rather than my locally installed software as I’m taking notes in focus groups sessions and create spreadsheet for a survey tool comparison project, and as a result I’m paying an increasing amount of attention to “New Features!” and Google Labs to see how my user experience has changed or will change very soon. In looking through the new features list yesterday, I noticed several items listed that strengthen my belief that Google is quietly taking aim and positioning itself to take over the educational web technologies market.

Is Google planning on creating its own Learning Management Systems? Old news! (See Matt’s post from earlier this year.) Over a year ago, the Wall Street Journal hypothesized on the Five Companies Google Might Buy Next, but as I look through new features and those that Google says are “keeping us busy”, I wonder if Google would even consider acquiring a company like Bb. Why would they? They already have (or are working on) manyof the pieces that come together to make an LMS, and with Google’s tendency to gobble up companies, they could easily acquire the missing pieces.

LMS features and how they relate to existing Google technologies

Collaboration

Communication

  • discussion boards/listservs (Groups)
  • email (Gmail)
  • IM/chat/audio conferencing (Talk)
  • annoucnements (Alerts)
  • web-based calling, voicemail (Voice)

Class Management

Recent tweeks Google is making that seem more “education-friendly”

  • Improved view of revision history in documents (gradable collaborative documents)
  • Upload several different file types and either convert to google docs format or view in google docs viewer (universal file type – instructor can view document submission whether created in Word, Word Perfect, PDF, Google Docs, etc.)
  • Upload different versions of a file (assignment submissions, including rough drafts)

Google Labs, acquisitions, “keeping us busy” items and New Features! and how they could eventually effect education

Future Google Conquests Predictions

  • Prezi (mind-mapping)
  • TechSmith (testing) – however…
    Google could create a secure testing browser by modifying Chrome
    Google already is working on Breadcrumb, which could eventually become an alternative to StudyMate
  • Epsilen (learning outcomes measurement and portfolios)
  • Survey Monkey (advanced survey functionality)

Future Educational Google Site Name Predicitons

  • Google Edu – Google’s LMS, including all of the above
  • Google Meeting – Google’s web conferencing system that combines Talk (chat, private messaging, audio conferencing) with Docs (live document sharing/collaborating, collaborative drawing and whiteboard, file sharing) and Moderator (event moderating)

It’s only a matter of time.

Katrina Adams

Howdy folks! I’m an Instructional Designer at UT Dallas. I have a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education from Angelo State University and a Master’s in Computer Education and Cognitive Systems from the University of North Texas. I’ve been working in edtech for 11 years. Hmm… what else? I’m a *huge* fan of that little Irish band called U2, and I’m a bigtime Firefly/Serenity advocate.

6 thoughts on “Google Takes Aim

  1. Just wondered if you’ve seen LearnBoost – some impressive technology being developed there… useful already but maybe one to add to Google’s sites…

  2. Matt Crosslin

    Overall, I hope that Google just does their own thing rather than buying Blackboard. But i am wondering if they are even interested? Do they already see themselves as being in “education” since they are already trying to make information accessible to everyone? Could be interesting. But with all of the APIs and other tools they have to connect things, someone might just be able to build an LMS site that pulls it all together. Hmmmm……

  3. Like it or not, Google will have to make/purchase an objective testing system. Bb’s is actually very good. AND, Google will have to make/purchase a grade center…..these tools are what my instructors are using the most (that is not on the list)…

  4. Matt Crosslin

    I have worked with Blackboard for years (currently in 9.1), but have never been a fan of their testing system. So clunky and convoluted to me. Moodle’s is better, but no one has really created what I consider a “good” system for creating tests. Of course, I don’t like to use objective tests in courses I teach, so maybe that is why I don’t like them – I hate the concept.

    Blackboard’s grade center is pretty decent – but there is Google Doc’s Spreadsheet that almost works just the same, and with a few tweaks and integrations it would do everything you need. And come to think of it, you can actually create something like a test with it. Tweak it a little more, and you would have objective testing, too.

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