Connecting dots for digital learning and teaching

Google Plus Comes to a Classroom Near You


With the popularity of social networks steadily on the rise, Google created their own networking site this summer, Google+. During its Beta phase, Google+ ran off an invite-only policy, but it has been opened up to anyone with a Google account. Now educators are thinking of integrating the program into schools, saying that it presents more benefits to students than problems.

If educators start using Google+, it shows that the school is proactive with the latest technology. However, it may not be as effective to start with because it is still so new, so there are not vast amounts of participants or educational resources yet.

Also, some of the Google+ features are often blocked in schools, such as YouTube, and educators do typically discourage the use of social networking sites during school hours. The major challenge in bringing Google+ to the classroom is how to monitor that students are using the computer and websites for what they are supposed to.

digital classroom, google plus, edtech

Google+ has been compared to Facebook, with some varying elements, so let’s introduce some of the features Google+ offers and how they could positively be used in schools across the country.

Google Plus’ Plusses for Educators

Circles:
Think Facebook “group lists” or Twitter lists, only easier. You can group your friends into circles based on any criteria, such as “circles” of friends based on what class you have with them or which sports team you play on together. Each group is kept separate, but you can include people in more than one group. Student can build circles from each of the classes they are in and this will simplify the process of sharing information with their teacher and classmates.
Hangouts:
This feature allows you to hold live video chats with up to ten people at a time and will change who is on camera based on who is talking. You may also share videos from YouTube and text/chat along the side of any videos being watched. Hangouts can be used as a replacement for “office hours” with professors. You can also have online class meetings when classes are over.
Huddle:
As a chatting feature, Huddle allows you to send out a text to everyone in a circle group. This can be used to keep in constant contact with students, whether they’re gathering up everyone after a field trip, prompting students to reconvene to the classroom after a break, or alerting students about a class cancelation.
Instant Upload:
You can upload your photos, videos, or documents from your cell phone and share them with an individual or one of your circles. This feature can be useful across the board – teachers can upload materials for classwork and projects, students can submit homework, and parents can receive information from the staff about the school (events, articles, etc.).
Sparks:
Users can select any interests they want to track – celebrities, music, sports, movies, etc. This is where the Google +1 buttons will really come into play once they get utilized more often. Sparks will provide you with the most popular links relating to each topic based on these +1 ratings. This can be used by teachers and students to track current information on topics relating to the curriculum. Students can also share information they find with their classmates and brings “current events” homework to a whole new level.

With the new school year just starting up, some schools are giving the program a trial-run. There is a lot of classroom potential with Google+ including better-quality student collaboration via Circles, utilizing the combination of classroom and online instruction with Hangouts, improved and easier project research with Sparks, and better school public relations with targeted photo-sharing, updates, and messaging. Do you see Google plus as a distraction in the classroom, or as a useful tool to help bring students and teachers closer together?

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About the Author : Greg Buckskin has worked in the classroom as a Substitue Teacher and is an expert in assistive technology. He currently writes for Comcast.USDirect.

Note : Thanks for Greg’s submission, while we don’t take any responsibility if there is any copyright issue regarding this post.

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“Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I will understand.” -------- Chinese Wisdom "Games are the most elevated form of investigation." -------- Albert Einstein
"I'm calling for investments in educational technology that will help create digital tutors that are as effective as personal tutors, educational software as compelling as the best video game," President Barack Obama said while touring a tech-focused Boston school (year 2011).
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