Google aren’t satisfied with owning (and monitoring!) half the world. Google Classroom is one of their latest ventures, and it’s their first stab at e-learning and mobile learning software. It’s a decent first attempt, but we think there’s a really important thing they get wrong. The basis of any amazing VLE has to be education, education, education: but true to form, Google’s Classroom is designed with advertisers in mind just as much as students. Read on to find out exactly what we mean.
What do Google get right?
The very many tools that Google offer are popular for a reason. Typically, they bring out the best of new technological advances, and add their own twist. Take Google Drive: it was introduced in 2012, right at the beginning of the cloud revolution, and it cemented its place in the market both because of the omnipresence of Google- everyone has a Gmail account- and because of its genuine functionality. As of 2017, Google Drive holds over two trillion files and has 800 million active users.
Google’s Classroom is their attempt to force their way into the emerging VLE market. It has many of the features commonly found in virtual learning environment software, and offers the same sorts of benefits: it saves time and paper, organises classwork in one place, and enables quick and easy communication with students. The other Google Classroom pros are its simplicity- it’s very easy to navigate- and its compatibility with Google’s other apps. Apart from that, it’s all par for the course for e-learning software.
Google Classroom vs other VLEs is therefore not much more than a personal choice. Perhaps you like the idea of your students finding it easy to use because of its compatibility with many of Google’s apps for Android and iPhone. Perhaps that doesn’t appeal to you. But where Google’s Classroom succeeds as an effective VLE, it fails because of Google’s insistence on pandering to its advertisers.
What do Google get wrong?
The problem is that like many of Google’s offerings, their focus isn’t always on providing a great service to you, but providing a great service to their advertisers. Remember, everything that you Google search is collected, collated and sold to advertisers so that they can better market their products. The websites you find through Google search, or visit on Google Chrome, are similarly analysed.
This is where Google’s Classroom falls down. Google make almost all of their profits from their Google Adsense service, so it’s no surprise that they want to monetise as many of their offerings as possible. But this really is fundamentally incompatible with e-learning software, which should always be for- well, learning, not marketing. Put simply, the monetisation of Google’s Classroom is a step in the wrong direction.