Sunday, July 10, 2011

What Does Google+ Mean for Education

I became a Google+ user this week and I like it.  From what I can tell it lets you do pretty much everything Facebook lets you do with some bonuses including being able to edit your status updates and comments and that you can select who the feed goes to via the circle(s) in which you share your updates.  The circles I'm using are colleagues, co-workers, GTA, friends, family, volleyball.  The status updates still don't have a feature which I really want:  nesting of comments.  Is that really so hard???  It does let you tag people in your status which I find useful.

Another cool feature is hanging out.  This lets you connect with up to ten people via audio, video, and chat and from my experience it works rather seamlessly.  It also has a YouTube video share which I think will be powerful as a teaching and learning tool.  While as an educator, my initial thought was only ten people?  My next thought was, the reality is that it is difficult to have meaningful discussions with more than ten people.  The rule of ten might in fact result in much more interesting and effective learning.  For instance:

  • What if students were empowered to lead hang out discussions and if necessary the teacher could move from discussion to discussion.  
  • What if the teacher set discussions with groups of students as it made sense.
  • This could be great for meetings of educators who are not from the same school.  Think librarian hangouts, science teacher hangouts, etc.
  • This is a nice tool that could be more efficient for staff who are located in different districts.  Rather than spend time commuting, just set up a hang out.

Here is what I like, love, a great tip, and what surprised me about Google+

Top 3 things I like.
1-You can edit your posts
2-You can hit return without the comment posting itself
3-You can still tag people

Top 3 things I love
1-You can select who sees your message. I REALLY like this as I know my friends are annoyed by my work chatter.
2-Hangouts are really cool. They're so easy. I didn't need to install or do anything, though I believe this is because I use the Google Suite. If you don't, you may need to install some plug ins.
3-Creating circles. I don't know why but this seems so much better than creating groups in Facebook.


Great tip
Shorten your Google+ page url at http://gplus.to
This allows you to change the url for your Google+ page
to be something like this: http://gplus.to/InnovativeEdu
instead of this: https://plus.google.com/116727180683288878674

Surprise
One thing I wasn't looking forward to is re-establishing my personal learning network on Google+. I was surprised that this wasn't a problem. Within a few days it seems I already have all my Facebook work friends in Google+.  Rebuilding those I connect with was very easy and the circles are so nice because as people are added I quickly and easily dropped them in the right circle. Facebook let you just accept friendship without grouping people so there was no good way to connect with certain groups because I hardly grouped anyone.  The instant circles feature has allowed me to instantly group all and those I spoke with most on Facebook and Twitter are right there with me and in the right group :-)

That's as far as I've gotten so far with Google+, but if you want to learn more here are some suggestions :-)

1) Check out the Google+ Guide that is being created by hundreds of Google users, using Google docs.  How Google Coolgle is that??? Imagine what kids could do if we allowed them to use social networks to connect with others and make guides about things they cared about???

2) Eric Curts, who I was fortunate enough to have join my first hang out, shared with me a whole blog post he wrote about his ideas for Google+ for schools which you can read here.  If you're a Google Apps school, you'll love his App User Group which connects and assists schools in the use of Google Apps for education.  His post was also mentioned on the Read Write Web blog in their article, "Is This the Social Tool Schools Have Been Waiting For? by @audreywatters . Check it out.

3) Click this link for information about why it's great for folks who create graphic novels / comics.

4) Visit Larry Ferlazzo's round up of Google+ resources here.

5) Check out this Google collaborative doc that shares Ways to Use Google+ in Education.  Consider adding your own ideas too!

6) View "What G+ is really about (pst!!! it's not social") -- +Vincent Wong Believe it? Go here http://bit.ly/qfHKZQ and see his G+ photo album that argues the case. (Just click the first photo then use the arrows to see the rest.)

7) Google+ Shortcut Cheat Sheet

8) The GPlus Info: How GPlus Can Become The Social Network For Education by Rich Kiker

Unlike Google Wave which I waved goodbye to well before it disappeared and Google Buzz which I felt wasn't worth the buzz, I think Google+ has a place in social media arena.  Facebook, watch out. There's a new kid in town and I think he might become more popular than you.
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