Google Classroom a Moodle Replacement?

Not enough information to have a verdict on this yet; Google’s new attempt at an LMS is called Classroom. Currently it is an invite-only beta for Google Apps for Education. Thanks to Alan MacKenzie for pointing it out.

GoogleClassroom

I have tried to dust off my Apps for Education in two domains I had it set up in, but it seems that restrictions have blocked access for these. I signed up as an individual, before institutional access became the norm. My Apps for Education has become a free Apps for Business account.

I doubt I will have any luck getting my IT department to authorize anything more than Gmail for our university Apps for Education account. In any case, Classroom looks to go public just in time for the fall semester. I’d love to try it out beforehand, if anyone can get access.

A bit about why I am excited that Google is getting into the LMS market. Their previous foray, with Pearson, making OpenClass, was anything but Open (commentary). While free itself (open), the LMS is more like an App with in-app purchase options. A nice way for Pearson to market their content, but limits options for educators and learners.

The Connectivist movement has been post-LMS for years now. They consider an LMS much like a walled garden (aka silo), similar to sites like Facebook, who want to carve up the Internet. We all know what happened to AOL and their walled garden. I foresee Facebook on the same path.

More recently, Rab Petersen suggested I try Google+ Communities for online discussion. My Digital Media students, all 106 of them (3 classes) have taken to them like water. I found it hard to motivate them to use Moodle Discussion areas, as it seemed walled off from the Internet. I get more interaction from the students than ever before with the ease of adding video, pictures and links.

I say this because I have been exploring other capabilities I use in Moodle. The LMS is primarily used for content management (and is not so good at delivery). LMSs are also great administrative tools, for managing students and grades. The problem is, they are not really good at Learning. So I have been looking for alternatives.

Google has come up with replacements for a lot of an LMS’s capabilities. You just have to cobble them together. Mail Merge, as a new Docs add-on (created by MailChimp) works very well for grade notification and updates on status for the students. Forms handles quizzes. Giving up Moodle after using it for 10 years is a bit traumatizing, but unless they can integrate better with the rest of the Internet, it is no longer working very well for me.

Note that this may be because I have moved to a more project-based methodology. Teachers with more classical styles of class management may find Moodle perfectly acceptable, as did I. But for me, simplicity has always been the weakness of Moodle. I have worked hard to make it simpler for my students to use each year, but since it is more designed for institutional administration, my students still find it hard to get used to. Google+ Communities, email, forms, are all much more intuitive. I hope Google Classroom will be too.

 

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