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Google and Pearson: what’s coming for the LMS

October 25, 2011

I heard the news last week; Google and Pearson are teaming up to offer a new, cloud-based, free LMS (learning management software) called OpenClass.  I will be honest; I’m so excited about the possibilities here I’m not sure where to start.  I should probably also clear up from the beginning that I like Google so if you see bias here, that’s where it’s from.

For those that aren’t aware an LMS is software that allows students to take classes virtually.  There are numerous ways for this to manifest.  Complete e-learning environments, hybrid courses, virtually available online courses, online programs of study, even entire schools.  The article I read in Campus Technology (which is a very thorough debriefing of the system) stated that this particular LMS was going to be mostly used for hybrid classes and in keeping with Google style the platform is said to have “no hardware, licensing or hosting costs.”  Yeah!!

There are a lot of LMSes around but the two big guys are Moodle and Blackboard. Moodle is an open source platform where as Blackboard is a purchase.  Both have pluses and minuses but all LMS platforms do basically the same thing.  They allow the course facilitator to administer, track and document the course and usually provide the student with the ability to connect with other students, read course material and discuss topics in the course.

The partnership of Google with Pearson into this environment changes things.  First Google is an IT superpower.  Does anyone NOT use the search engine?  And outside of just the simple Google search the many different apps that are available to use is mind-boggling.  Actually OpenClass is going to be part of the Google Apps Marketplace for Education which has such apps as Engrade, EasyBib and many more.  More importantly though I think Google will have an intuitive way to make this LMS really social, Skype is already a component.  Integrating social networking into the class is becoming more and more important and to not have it makes the site seem outdated and unimportant to students.  That paired with Pearson’s content should provide for some spectacular integration.

Most academic librarians are probably familiar with LMSes and with embedded librarianship becoming more popular I’m sure we will be learning more about them.  I’ll have to see how LibGuides integrates into OpenClass.  🙂

It should go live on Oct 18th and I for one will certainly be checking it out.  I’ll post a review after I’ve seen it.

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