As Google+ continues to evolve it seems there isn’t a better time to jump on the bandwagon and start exploring the benefits for education. The ‘connectivity’ it offers through discussion groups, communities and circles make this a fantastic and somewhat under-exploited tool for education. I’ve looked at this from an establishment and educator perspective as Google+ offers capabilities that make connecting and engaging online globally, richer and easier than in the past.
So here’s some of my initial thoughts on how the various features of Google+ could be used in education (and please feel free to add your own ideas)
This can provide a way for you to create a public and private discussion group(s) within Google+. These communities can have members who may not a part of your Google+ Circles , for example students, parents etc….. Within this community you will also be able to hold hangouts and discussion threads. From a School/College perspective I see this as a great opportunity to bring together students, parents, governors and the local community as a whole, where you can share and discuss a wide variety of topics and ideas.
Likewise as an educator this can also be a valuable networking and ‘sharing of good practice’ opportunity on a global scale.
Hangouts allow you to have a live video chat with up to 10 people and many tools and and extensions have been created to make this a richer experience. Google+ hangouts have been embraced by communities globally, both personally and for business that allow real time face to face engagement. Naturally this builds stronger ties and relationships that just textual communication. This feature would bring in a sharing of good practice dimension for education professionals across the globe. Have you also thought about utilising this feature when out on a School field trip for example; to link aspects of learning together and to share findings in ‘real time’?.
This where I feel Google+ really comes into it’s own, creating and curating the content for various circles. A circle is an essential part of Google+. They’re the key to sharing and the great thing about circles is that they let you group people together based on how you think of them in real life.
I know as education professionals we have an obligation to protect ourselves online and that’s where Google+ really works well. You decide who can see each piece of personal information on your profile. For example, your contact details and relationship information could be visible to your friends circle, while your employment history and education could be visible to your alumni association circle. Therefore you can lock down what information you share with students, parents and so on. Or you could create two accounts, one for personal use and one for professional use as I have done. Here are a few circle suggestions I have:
Teachers – Specifically for networking and sharing ideas/good practice.
Students – Interaction on a learning level and again working towards ‘flipping’ the learning experience.
Other professionals – These could be industry links, Governors etc…
I would welcome your thoughts and ideas.Follow @gary_s_king
I came across these two interesting infographics, one comparing Google+ with Facebook and the other looking at reasons why you should switch to Google+: