He hit several different angles, but the one that struck me the most is as follows:
Seriously, though. There’s always someone trying to make a dollar off of a teacher or a classroom. Sometimes that’s an OK thing, because they’ve got a product that helps me do something that I want to do. Other times, that’s no good, because they’re poor salespeople — they want to sell me something that I don’t really need, or won’t actually do something for the benefit of my students.
I’ve seen both situations, as I’m sure many of you have as well. The reason I stand by the DEN is not because unitedstreaming is a great service (although it is), but because they seem to be honestly interested in raising the technological savvy of teachers everywhere. I mean, hey, they’ve given multiple workshops on blogging and podcasting, two things you just can’t do with unitedstreaming’s content because of copyright restrictions.
But they still teach it.
Google Education … well, to be honest, the only new thing I’ve seen so far is their newsletter, and that doesn’t really excite me. Google is in a different position than the DEN is in – the DEN makes money from schools paying for unitedstreaming and Cosmeo subscriptions, and keeps ads from 3rd parties off of its sites. With few exceptions, Google charges nothing. It makes its revenue off of its Adsense program – something it has managed very well indeed.
(The ads on my own site are from Google, although they’re doing much better than I am, I’m afraid. I hope to someday earn enough from those ads to renew my domain name registration just once – earning enough to pay for hosting is a pipe dream with my non-Laporte levels of traffic.)
Google could do a lot with the tools they have, and in fact they are providing a lot already. I’ve been to more than one workshop that tauted Google Earth for virtual field trips or (what was then called) Writely for anything from replacing Microsoft Office to working collaboratively with classrooms around the world. I myself have raved about SketchUp and Blogger, and I still recommend all of these services.
But still, their education site seems a little tacked on at the moment. It’s as if someone in marketing said, “Hey, if we make a page that links to all the stuff Google is doing and put the word ‘education’ at the top of it, we’ll have tons of teachers visit – which will lead to more revenue through our advertisements!”
And except for a newsletter and a workshop that most people will never be able to attend, that’s all they seem to have done.
Still, I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. Google Education is young, and we all know Google has a history of rolling out products that will remain in public beta for incredibly long lengths of time. It’s a work in progress and the criticism above was made with that fact in the back of my head.
Let’s check back in a year. I’m curious to see how they turn out.