Earlier this week, Google announced a new Learning Management System (LMS): Classroom. I’m amazed at the buzz it’s getting on Twitter. People are reacting like Google has discovered human flight. At this point, it’s vague as to how robust Classroom will be. Google’s YouTube video really only promotes the “paperless” aspect of Classroom, and every Learning Management System (LMS) on the planet already has that. That’s only a fraction of the important functions available in an LMS like Moodle, for example. (Also, “paperless” doesn’t really start to bring full benefits until a school has reached a 1-1 ratio with devices.) Maybe Classroom will blow the doors off of existing systems, but it sure seems way too early to be talking about jumping ship.
The other concern I have with Classroom is that it might go the way of Reader, Wave, etc. Don’t get me wrong: I love many of the products Google has given us in education. Google Docs has revolutionized paper management in our district. However, Google has developed a reputation of abandoning things that don’t work as they want them to. I’d hate to see organizations jump on board with this only to have Google not support it two years down the line. The biggest costs associated with establishing an LMS for your organization are the time it takes to get your courses and content established on the LMS and training staff to use it. Shifting from an existing system to Classoom, then back again if it doesn’t get supported two years from now, could be disastrous.
The place where I could see this having an immediate impact, however, is for teachers working in organizations that don’t currently have a learning management system in place for staff. For a sole teacher wanting to try some digitally supported teaching, Classroom could be a good immediate choice. Having said that, public school districts without functioning LMSs far and few between now. The vast majority of school districts in Minnesota, for example, have systems in place for staff to build and deliver content.
I’m very much in a “wait and see” mode on this, although I would love to try it out. @Google: Hint, hint, nudge, nudge, access please. 🙂