Google Apps Marketplace: New EDU applications ratchet up the value

Google Apps Marketplace: New EDU applications ratchet up the value

Summary: A new education category and several big edu players as launch partners are taking the Google Apps Marketplace from overwhelming to major value-add for Google Apps for Education customers.

TOPICS: Apps, Cloud, Google

One of the best features of Google Apps is the Google Apps Marketplace. This is a clearinghouse of third-party applications that integrate with Google Apps, at a minimum leveraging single sign-on (either OAuth or, more commonly, OpenID) to access a variety of cloud-based applications with Google Apps credentials. Other applications like SocialWok bring much deeper integration of third-party software to many elements of Google Apps.

Not everyone shares my opinion, calling out the potential for turning a high-value, low-cost service into an expensive, Christmas-tree style set of disjointed apps, unified only by a Google ID. In fact, this is quite possible if administrators start adding applications with little thought to enterprise deployments simply because it's so easy to just click the "Add it now" button when they find an app that looks interesting. And there are a lot of interesting apps, many of which are free or provided limited feature sets for free.

The average school or district sysadmin, looking at the Marketplace for the first time, will invariably begin imagining all the things he or she can do with integrated help desk applications, project management tools, graphics apps, and more. With so many of them free (and a whole lot of them being quite good), the temptation to just start installing is strong.

To help school staff sort out the increasing number of education-centric applications, however, Google is introducing an education category within the Marketplace today. Education is currently the only vertical that Google is targeting, primarily because of strong demand from education customers and the extraordinary popularity of Google Apps for Education. According to Google, the Apps Marketplace has over 250 business-centric apps that can often be made to work in educational settings. However, the new category will focus on apps that are designed specifically for education. Google also cited "Interest from education-specific developers for...more distribution and a centralized storefront."

Google's launch partners for this effort fall into three rough subcategories: learning management systems, productivity, and gradebook/SIS apps. Partners range from EduTone (which integrates Google Apps with on-premise LMS solutions like Moodle) to PlanbookEdu to BrainPop. While some big names are available in the Marketplace now (and even Blackboard is a target for a future app), perhaps the bigger news is the way this encourages developers in the education market to build and distribute their software through the Marketplace. Your SIS vendor, for example, could leverage the Apps API more easily now and integrate its services and software into Apps.

Like the Marketplace or not, the new EDU categorization of specific apps makes it very easy for both amateur and experienced school system administrators to add on major functionality with literally the click of a button.

Topics: Apps, Cloud, Google

Christopher Dawson

About Christopher Dawson

Chris Dawson is a freelance writer, consultant, and policy advocate with 20 years of experience in education, technology, and the intersection of the two.

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  • RE: Google Apps Marketplace: New EDU applications ratchet up the value

    When would these apps will have something common in between them like common user experience? If they are not getting the same, training the teams on those become very difficult. I appreciate alternatives for everyone to choose and go, but if there is no consistency in the user experience and guidelines it would become tough to train the teams on a particular set of apps.
    Ram U
    • RE: Google Apps Marketplace: New EDU applications ratchet up the value

      @Rama.NET 20 years ago I would have agreed with you. When computers will still new to people, UI consistency was critical in helping train users. But now that technology is ubiquitous and consumerized, there's a lot more room for innovation. I'll gladly take a simple, functional, intuitive interface in any form over one that blindly adheres to a standard only for the sake of consistency.

      Remember, it wasn't that long ago that the current breed of smart phones made a radical departure from the way users traditionally used either phones or computers, and now it's one of the hottest markets in technology.
      • RE: Google Apps Marketplace: New EDU applications ratchet up the value

        UI is not equal to UX. UX is much bigger than UI. Please.
        Ram U
  • RE: Google Apps Marketplace: New EDU applications ratchet up the value

    I couldn't agree more. The entire Google platform, although advancing very well in the education sector, lacks both the standardization and consistency that a school needs. Parents, teachers, students & administrators need a consistent, quality experience.
    Walt C
  • RE: Google Apps Marketplace: New EDU applications ratchet up the value

    One of the trends outside the edu-ghetto is the consumerization of IT - sometimes called BYOT (Bring your own technology). If you watch children and adults using iOS or Android devices, each app has a distinct user experience and they're not terribly integrated with each other. Nonetheless, users get their work or play done quite effectively.

    Are you saying that kids suddenly become incompetent if they start using multiple UIs within the school - or is it simply more likely that what they're doing in school is boring stuff they are compelled to do?

    People can get the job done when they want to - so maybe we should ask why we aren't giving authentic incentives for authentic learning?
    • Scratching my head

      @douglas_stein@... Hi Doug (Doug Stein @ Memespark, by any chance??), I think you're on the mark. If someone complains about a diverse new set of learning offers because UI should be standardized or criticizes Google, the hallmark of consistency and simplicity, for lacking in these areas, it makes one wonder.<br><br>In case this is not clear: The Google Apps Marketplace is a platform for ***third party providers*** to provide their audience with Google sign in and integration convenience.<br>So, OF COURSE it is a different environment at each site, but has somebody (outside of the education field, that is) every complained that the Internet itself is a big soup of 30 million websites, each with their own UI?<br><br>So what if there's a bit of learning curve... isn't that what schools are for? Isn't that where people love to learn and share what they learn? How come there is always so much resistance from education around technology? Keeps amazing me.<br><br>As ED of one of the first 20 projects available in the new Marketplace EDU category (, I can only scratch my head about these comments. <br><br>Of course, as a provider you try to do what you can: <br>User focus groups to make sure the program is intuitive, screen casts and videos that make it easy to familiarize yourself with the program, 24/7 customer service and unlimited professional development, so every question is resolved before it turns into a problem. Being user friendly is a priority challenge for every program that is committed to its audience.<br>To even ask for standardization seems outlandish and completely unreasonable. <br>From what I've seen, all 20 initial launch programs excel and dazzle with user friendly designs. Take the time to take a look, dear nay sayers, and let yourself get a bit excited...!<br><br>So here you have Google providing the Google Apps platform to some 40,000,000 students and teachers, free of charge and ad-free. <br>You have companies working hard and spending quite a bit of energy and money to integrate and provide the convenience of instant, meaningful and safe communication flow. <br><br>You'll see a lot of wonderful free offers in the launch, too. Instead of taking a look, people indulge in how it's not standardized... huh? What is this all about? Self-complacency? Tech fear? Job frustration or job fear? <br><br>@Rama.NET: can't train teachers on different UI? Aren't those the smart guys, the ones that teach our kids? <br>I wouldn't want my daughter in the classroom of a teacher who can't figure out where to click on my site, or who isn't willing to learn. Both would be equally negative assessments in my opinion.<br><br>Ignorance is unacceptable in education. Maybe we have to discuss what's behind all this resistance. <br><br>Your students are passing you on the fast lane in regards to technology, how about a bit less negativity and a bit of attitude adjustment?
  • RE: Google Apps Marketplace: New EDU applications ratchet up the value

    @ info@...
    All this Resistance to technology in education? I think if you look around, in most places you?ll find schools pining for technology, but not being able to maintain the funds to keep it readily available. Use of smart phones is a great idea for students, except for the fact that there?s no way you can afford to give one to every student in most school systems. Second, many students and their families can?t afford to pay for a smart phone and the extra $30+ a month it will cost them to keep a data package. I live in a state where we have to cut out field trips unless they are free because we can?t leave behind students who can?t afford to pay for the trip. A place where people love to learn and share what they learn? I don?t know what Utopian school you went to, but I can tell you it?s not representative of a typical seventh grade class in my neck of the woods, so don?t even get me started on the problems created by cell phones already (i.e. sexting and new ingenious methods of cheating).
    Sure, technology is a fantastic idea for education if you live in a vacuum with no gravity, no sin, and every school has an unlimited budget. What you forget is that developers and professionals of the IT industry are making money. Schools systems, at least the public ones, are not. To lash out and say the people in education are resistant to technology is completely unfounded. You sound, to me, more like someone who has more of a problem with education than one who has a problem with the ?standardization? of the technology.
    It also seems to me like a bad business practice to condemn the people whom you hope to provide a service for. We appreciate the work you do to provide us with something user-friendly; we don?t appreciate you making brash unfounded proclamations about our ?ignorance.? I work with many different types of teachers, some that are extremely tech-savvy and some that can barely figure out how to turn on a VCR. Yes, that?s right, we still have VCR?s and VHS?s in our library. But even the ones who aren?t technical champions are trying. The school I teach at has undergone an open to technology policy and has been working for the past several years to get Smart Boards and Promethean boards into every classroom. The sad part is, the school can only afford to purchase two or three a year, and by the time the entire school is provided with them, the very first one will be ready for replacement.
    For these less than technical teachers it may be a little about fear, but it?s more about having the funds and time to learn the new and ever changing technology. Don?t forget that outside of their regular 8:05 ? 3:45 hours, these teachers are grading your children?s papers (some teach over 150), 30 students? make-up work, and those other 20 kids? work that was put off till the last week of the 9 weeks but you have to accept anyway because each one of them has a 504 and ADHD and because the teacher in you wouldn?t let you do anything else anyway. I could go on, but I?d be getting off-topic, which I have done already.
    So let me get back to the point, People are quick to judge teachers and the education system without thinking for a second about the sacrifices and the persecution they deal with everyday in the classroom. The problems with technology and education are not about resistance, and they are certainly not represented by the comments of one person, who hasn?t even identified himself as an educator but seems more concerned with ?training.? Even if he is, it does not justify coming down on the entire education system about things it really doesn?t even have the resources to support.
  • RE: Google Apps Marketplace: New EDU applications ratchet up the value

    Hello just found this article.....only a year late :) We launched CourseDirector in the Marketpalace on March 2011 so missed being mentioned here. In terms of some feedback from a vendor interest has been really picking up in the marketplace now. Part of this is as a result of OpenClass, which despite their misleading announcement of a 'partnership' between them and Google (I noticed you wrote about that too) has really helped us find more schools to partner with, as it has brought more people in to the marketplace, some of whom prefer our LMS.