At last month's Future Trends Forum hosted by Bryan Alexander, I received several questions around the intersection of K-12 and higher education markets for learning platforms. A condensed version of my answer is that the mainline LMS vendors are seeing increased overlap (Canvas, D2L Brightspace, Blackboard, Moodle, and Schoology in particular), but that there was little overlap when it comes to the teacher-oriented Big Classrooms (Google and Facebook).
Three years ago when the buzz over Google Classroom was at its peak, I wrote several posts looking at the platform, ultimately concluding in the post titled "Why Google Classroom won’t affect institutional LMS market … yet":
None of this argues that Google Classroom is an inferior tool – it is just not designed to replace the full-featured LMS. Remember that Google is a technology-vision company that is comfortable putting out new tools before they understand how the tools will be used. Google is also comfortable playing the long game, getting more and more instructors and faculty using, giving feedback, and pushing forward the new toolset. This process will take some time to play out – at least 2 or 3 years in my opinion before a full institutional LMS may be available. If Google like the direction Classroom usage is going.
Subsequently, Google has addressed some of the gaps in the product, including a programming interface that could allow deeper integration with student record systems used at higher ed institutions.
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We're now 3 years down the road from the initial analysis - has Google Classroom started to be adopted as a full institutional LMS?
Our partners at LISTedTECH have performed an initial analysis on this question. We do not yet have full data coverage in the same fashion as our LMS market analysis, but this early view should give some insight into higher ed adoption of the platform.
For this initial view, we are looking at institutional adoption. Where a school supports Google Classroom as their primary or secondary system. There are plenty of other cases where individual faculty choose to use the platform in an unsupported manner.
Notes from initial view:
- A lot of the interest seems to come from developing countries where the education budgets are quite low. Malawi, Papau New Guinea, etc.
- For the United Kingdom, the number is artificially high as 5 of the institutions are all part of Warwickshire College Group (a collection of Further Education colleges). Nevertheless, the UK has the higher number (so far) of institutional adoptions.
- The usage of Google Classroom as a secondary system makes sense - an alternative platform that doesn't have all the features and integrations typically needed for primary system usage - but there are cases now of primary usage.
- In the US, the most notable adoption is the California University of Management and Sciences, a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)–certified institution in Anaheim. They support both Moodle and Google Classroom for primary LMS usage.
- While we don't have comprehensive coverage yet, it appears that there are some isolated cases of Google Classroom institutional adoption in higher education. The platform is still not a true LMS competitor, but we'll keep watching.