Google Expands K-12 Footprint, Acquires STEM-Focused Company Workbench

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Google, already a dominant presence in the nation’s classrooms, is adding to its education portfolio through the acquisition of Workbench, an online platform that seeks to connect teachers and others with hands-on content.

Chris Sleat, the founder and CEO of Workbench, announced the deal in a blog post on the company’s website. Terms were not disclosed.

Workbench is a learning platform that aims to give educators, students, and other users the ability to create and find lessons connected to a variety of “maker” activities focused on STEM and other topics. The company connects teachers, schools, and education companies with content, and it has content partnerships with maker-tech platforms including Sphero, Parrot, Dremel, Makey Makey and others, Google said in an e-mail to EdWeek Market Brief.

Workbench is already integrated with Google Classroom, the company’s classroom-management platform, as well as with Clever and other systems, the company said on its website. A Google spokesperson said the company plans to weave Workbench’s capabilities deeper within Google’s platform, and build its ability to serve schools, districts, and universities.

“With the addition of Workbench, we’re embarking on a journey to help schools and educators address their universal needs around educational content,” Google said in a statement.

Google’s position in the K-12 market has soared over the past decade. Low-cost Chromebook devices are widely used in the nation’s schools; 58 percent of the K-12 mobile-device products shipped in the U.S. run on Chrome operating systems, which places Google well above Microsoft and Apple in that category, according to recent data by Futuresource Consulting.

And in a nationally representative survey conducted last year for EdWeek Market Brief, teachers and administrators expressed a strong preference for Google products, including Google’s classroom-management tool, over its rivals.

Workbench says it allows users to search for content by grade level, length of a classroom project, alignment with learning standards, and other factors.

A testimonial from a district IT director included in Sleat’s post says that platform has allowed his K-12 system to “take the content and lessons our teachers are already using and put those in one place, making them accessible for other teachers to search.”

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