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Education app vendors beware: Google wants to be teachers' pet

Google is developing a tool to help teachers manage classroom tasks, a move that should have education app vendors trembling as if they’d been sent to the principal’s office.

The software, called Classroom , will become part of Apps for Education, Google’s cloud email and collaboration suite for schools and universities, Google said Tuesday.

Customers interested in trying out the tool can apply for inclusion in a private test period. Google expects Classroom to be generally available in September.

The move is a surprising one, given that Google had limited itself to providing the core Apps for Education suite and relied on learning management system (LMS) vendors for specialized functionality via integration through the Apps Marketplace.

There are about 90 education software vendors in the Apps Marketplace. It’s not clear with how many Classroom will end up competing with directly.

Google described Classroom as a simple, easy-to-use tool designed to help teachers “create and organize assignments quickly, provide feedback efficiently, and communicate with their classes with ease.” Classroom will tap Apps for Education components such as Docs, Drive and Gmail.

Google is already testing Classroom with more than 12 schools and universities. The company will also provide developer tools. Apps for Education is free and Classroom will be too.

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