Google Classroom - competition for traditional LMSs?

Google Classroom is finally available for Google Apps classrooms all over the world. It has received a lot of attention in social media as well as in traditional media. Google Classroom, which has been developed in conjunction with teachers, works on top of Google Apps and provides easy and intuitive course management (homework, sharing materials, announcements and discussions) for teachers by doing a lot of work (setting up folders and sharing settings) in the background. Both teachers and students get a walk-through the first time they use Classroom and the learning curve is very flat.

On the web the question if Google Classroom is a serious competitor to traditional LMS like Moodle has popped up serval times already. After having had the chance to test Classroom my answer is no and yes.

No: Google Classroom has very limited functionality, mostly for handling homework more easily than can be done in Google Drive alone. It can at best be described as an “LMS lite”.  Even though LMSs come with a lot of functionality nobody ever uses, there are two important functions of an LMS missing in Classroom: testing/quizzing and a gradebook. While the former is completely missing (it can be somewhat clumsily done with Google Drive add-ons, though), grading is included for single assignments (which serve more as feedback for the students, but are hardly useful for the teacher yet).

Yes: Even though Classroom lacks a lot of functionality, it is very good for what it was made: managing homework and coursework. When I was giving Moodle training teachers were consistently asking about functionality which is now provided by Classroom, i.e. giving assignments, marking homeworking and giving feedback. Many teachers are not terribly interested in advanced LMS features like online testing and gradebooks. For these teachers Classroom provides a far simpler solution than a traditional LMS. It takes much less time to share materials and set up/mark assignments in Classroom than in Moodle, for example. I personally would use Classroom for homework assignments rather than an LMS.

Having said that, I think there is still ample of room for the coexistence of both Classroom and a traditional LMS and personally I would like to see more integration between these two (e.g. better Google Drive integration in Moodle and automatic export of Moodle gradebook into Google Sheets).

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