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EdTech Update




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Why I'm kind of excited about Google+ and schools

While my expertise is now nearly as lacking for Google+ as it's been for Facebook, I can't help but see how this tool, when available as a part of Google Apps for Education, may be a game-changer in how students and staff communicate for educational purposes.

Here's why:

  1. Google+ allows one to have a separate "professional-only" venue for online networking. Facebook suffers from having started as a "social" networking site - "social" having a recreational, personal, even, frivilous connotation. But with Google+ as a part of GoogleApps for Education, the teacher's Google+ account can be a school-only or professional-use-only tool. To keep kids and parents out of one's degenerate personal Facebook information (since one is not supposed to have multiple Facebook accounts), teachers have had to resort to Fanpages and other limited means of utilizing Facebook. Guidelines were needed. Google+ for work and Facebook (or a personal Google+ site for personal use) keeps things simple.
  2. Circles in Google+ are easy to make, edit and delete. Hey, teachers are all about circles - reading circles, sharing circles, literature circles. Google+ circles seem easier than e-mail lists for communicatng with groups ranging from "all third graders" to "my seventh hour biology class" to "the team working on The Crucible presentation" to "the members of my PLC." 
  3. There is a possibiliy of a "walled garden" use of Google+ for younger students. I am hoping that, like with GoogleApps, the default setting for sharing will be "within the domain only." While e-mail, Docs and webpages should be shareable with those outside school, especially for secondary students, I still like the comfort of knowing that we might be able to restrict Google+ for elementary students to only those users within our own district.
  4. There is already a familiarity with Gmail, GoogleApps, and other Google interfaces. When I ask students about whether we should offer students a school-supplied social networking tool like Edmodo or Saywire or a Ning, I invariably get: "No, let's just use Facebook since we already use it." Google+ might be an acceptable compromise. Students and staff are already using GoogleApps and have a regularly used account. Established school Google accounts mean not having to create yet one more user name and password. GoogleApps are easily accessed from the iGoogle portal (or just from Gmail). Google+ will be seen as an enhancement to our current tool set, not "just one more thing to learn."

I've always wanted our school to provide an educational networking tool that took advantage of Facebook's ease of use and popularity, but somehow remained dedicated to learning.

Google+ might be just what I've been looking for.

See also: What does Google+ mean for schools? Eric Curtis on Apps User Group, June 28, 2011

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Reader Comments (5)

I agree! I am liking google+ more and more. I like it also because of how it may influence my focus. I find my facebook has too many facets of my attention in one place, so I shift between interests that don't go together well and I don't focus down on what I want to know more about. When I get into ed tech esp. I need to focus... I can't let my attention wander because otherwise I'm not getting that new good tip that will help me or change the way I do something or envision for the future. I guess, on the other hand, having a way of putting your personality out there (a great tee shirt logo) let's people from one part of your life know you in a different way.. so both have value.

July 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAudrey Hill

Been using google+ and loving it. I agree, the implications for educators are huge. I used google docs with my American Studies class last year and they loved it. I see the ability to use circles of my classes. More investigating will determine if it might work.

July 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterrich

Hi Audrey,

The world seems to be getting less kind to those of us with attention deficits, that's for sure.


Hi Rich,

Just keeping my fingers crossed that this becomes a standard app in GoogleApps for Education.


July 22, 2011 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

Looking forward to getting back to school and seeing if we can get our Techies to unblock all the great Google apps to use in our classrooms. There appears to be so much capability in the programs and in particular as an application for students and group activities.

July 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shaffer

Hi John,

Good luck with your efforts. You might remind your tech dept there are over 10 million users of GoogleApps for Education world-wide. If something happens, your district is not alone in this boat!


July 25, 2011 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

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