Google Inc. is talking with educational-software companies to help build a marketplace for online learning programs, an industry whose value may approach $5 billion this year. Games and instructional tools for teachers from companies such as Grockit Inc. and Aviary Inc. are already offered in the Google Apps Marketplace, an online store that opened in March. Google seeks to lure more educational developers and is stepping up efforts to generate revenue from the project, company executives say.

Software sales for U.S. schools and colleges this year should surpass the 2009 total of $4.6 billion, according to Parthenon Group LLC. “If we can provide access to education apps to our 10 million users in thousands of schools, then that would be a win all around,” said Obadiah Greenberg, Google’s business development manager for education.

“A teacher logs into a Google Apps account and they can access anything in the marketplace,” said Birchfield, who is known by colleagues as the “Google guru.” “It gives you a one-stop-shop kind of thing where we know we can integrate it and we know where it’s all saved.”

Google is plotting toward a future where it’s the broker of all new technology adopted by a school, said Salman Khan, the founder of the nonprofit educational video series Khan Academy. His organization has received some funding from Google.

Google’s online store for education apps could soon face competition from Apple, which has said it will open a version of its popular App Store for Mac computers on Jan. 6.

(Via BusinessWeek)