Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Google Apps Stocks Its Marketplace Full of Educational Apps

marketplace150.jpgThe Google Apps Marketplace gives third-party developers the ability to offer installable apps that integrate with Google Apps. The marketplace is only a little older than nine months and although there have been educational apps available since the test-prep company Grockit joined the marketplace last fall, the majority of these third-party apps have really aimed more at the Apps for Business than at the Apps for Education users.

That is, until now, with the launch of a new education category for the Google Apps Marketplace that includes over 20 educational apps from 19 vendors.


The apps include learning management systems (such as the gradebook LearnBoost or the K-12 LMS Haiku), bibliographic tools (like EasyBib), and learning aids (such as Grockit and DreamBox).

The apps are accessed through single sign-on and are integrated with a school's Google Apps for Education accounts - with Google Calendar and Docs, for example. As such, these new educational apps in the marketplace greatly expand the potential for Apps for Education - for schools and for developers.

Why the Marketplace Matters for Schools

Even without the marketplace, Google Apps for Education offers schools a substantial value: budget savings, cloud-based collaboration and communication tools, ease of licensing and installation, and so on.

The new education category in the apps marketplace gives schools additional resources, with both free and paid apps. According to Google Apps Partner Lead Scott McMullan, schools have already been utilizing many of the available apps, but as, up 'til now, these apps have really geared towards business users, schools have had to adapt what's there to the educational setting. No surprise, says McMullan, schools have been demanding new, specifically ed-focused content.

The addition of apps like BrainPOP marks a big step forward in terms of that very content. As Din Heiman, COO of the animated education site, says, "We believe Google Apps Marketplace can contribute to education because of the convenience that it can afford teachers and their students. The BrainPOP app will enable easy access to BrainPOP subscriptions, and will help keep track of valuable formative assessment data via shared teacher spreadsheets."

Why the Marketplace Matters for Ed-Tech Developers

But it isn't simply a matter of better content delivery for teachers and students. The addition of a new category in the marketplace provides a big opportunity to education technology companies as well. Having an app in the marketplace could help address one of the major challenges that ed-tech companies face (particularly new companies that are up some of the giants in the industry, such as Pearson and Blackboard): adoption.

Meredith Ely, Marketing Manager for the online gradebook LearnBoost agrees. "One of the traditional problems in education is distribution," she says. "Before it was tough to reach teachers in a scalable way. But with education heating up, and Google putting themselves in a position to help solve the distribution problem, it means that truly innovative education companies can reach more people than ever before."

The new category means - hopefully - that great educational products have a better chance of reaching their target audience - students and teachers. And that audience is nothing to sneeze at, as Google Apps for Education is already serving over ten million of them.


Chandra West Kasey Chambers Megan Ewing Kristanna Loken Aubrey ODay

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