Google Docs to Blackboard, “Your days are numbered”
Is it true? Did Christmas come early? I read TechCrunch yesterday morning and just about couldn’t believe it. Google has launched a home page for students (kind of, see picture). The page is a landing page for Google Docs, with Google Doc templates for RAs, TAs and other student leaders. Even in the first few seconds, Google is much more in tune with the student population than Blackboard.
The simple landing page also points out a few other applications for college living.
Let us not forget that before Facebook, Microsoft Word was the defining software of education. A big part of college life revolves around essay-generating efficiency. Over a few decades, Word became the norm. While Microsoft Word transitions to the online space to cater to modern students’ needs, Google has come in as the sleeper.
Surprisingly, many students still have no idea of the existence of Google Docs. I have a debate tomorrow morning and I insisted that our group use Google Docs to organize ourselves. The other 3 group members had never used nor seen Google Docs, but are already converts.
Google is also taking another tack and attacking from a top-down approach. The tried-and-true GMail system has many universities jumping off their own in-house email servers. LMU recently switched to a Google-controlled backend. Now I can actually check my school email. Notre Dame and other schools are doing the same.
I’m guessing that it’s only a matter of time before Google starts stepping on more toes of Blackboard’s. Online, concurrent word processing is a difficult task to solve (Google Docs). Providing a database of course documents, a forum and a syllabus is not (Blackboard). Google could turn these things out overnight.
If I were Blackboard, I would be shaking in my boots.
What do you think? Will Google edge out Blackboard? Do you, for one, welcome our new Google overlords?