Thursday, July 28, 2011

Google+

Have you heard Google's recent announcement?  They are working on and soon will be releasing Google+.  It is meant to be direct competition for Facebook and I think it has potential in education.  Unlike Facebook, Google+ allows you to create separate circles or groups of people who only can see and interact with each other.  This would allow teachers to create circles of students who can only interact with each other.  The teacher, on the other hand, could see all of the circles from one place.  

Another neat feature of Google+ is the Sparks area.  Users can enter as many interests as they want (sports, movies, music, politics, and research topics) and then Google+ provides them with constantly updating links to content on the Internet specific to the topics they listed.  Wouldn't this come in handy for a research project?  I see this as using the power of the web to bring the content to the user automatically.  

Hangouts allows you to hold a live video chat with up to 10 users at one time.  This could easily be used for students to collaborate from home in the evening.  Seriously, they really do work on their projects from home if we give them the right tools.  This feature could also be used to hold virtual meetings, saving staff time and cost for traveling to a central site.

Ready to get started?  Well, we will have to wait a bit yet. Right now, Google+ is by invitation only.  It also requires Google Profiles which are not yet available in Google Apps for Education. You can request that you are notified when this is available by filling out this form.   

For more information on Google+, check out the links below.  I look forward to seeing how this roles out in education.  Perhaps this is a safe way for school to provide social networking within our schools, especially for students too young for Facebook and other social networking sites.