Whenever some new service comes along, as a teacher, I inevitably think about how it could be used for education purposes. I think almost any web service can be adapted for educational use. I do it on a daily basis with Facebook and Twitter. With the launch of Google Plus last week, a few ideas sprang to mind. For those of you not familiar with this new service, Google+ appears to be Google’s answer to Facebook. If you have a look at it, you’ll see lots of familiar things such as status updates, sharing photos, etc. The main thing that makes it interesting for me is the simple ability to categorise your friends into “Circles”. This means that when I update my status, I can choose who gets to read it. This simple idea opens up my social network nicely. I’ll go through some of my initial thoughts as I get to grips with the service.
As I said, the main thing I like about Google+ is the idea of circles and being able to tailor my social feeds to different types of ‘friends’. I can now open my social network to parents in my school. I simply create a circle called “Parents” and as I add them as friends in Google+, I only share school-related information with them. I have a separate circle for my friends outside of education. Until now on Facebook, they have had to endure links to articles about educational technology. I can now spare them the hassle. I also made a circle for educationalists. This is where I share all the pedagogical stuff. I can also tailor who I share links and photos, thus sparing any of my professional friends with galleries of photos of holidays, pets and food.
I also think the hang out idea could be interesting for video conferences with multiple users. Already, a couple of teachers tried it out last night after the weekly #edchatie on Twitter. Early reports sound good. I also think it could be a way to allow parents to tune into the classroom for different projects.
The Android App is another nice tool and automatically adding photos to the Google+ account is handy. I presume an iPhone app will be just as good too.
If Google+ does what Facebook does but separates friends into different categories, I could see it becoming a nice one stop tool for my personal and professional social networking needs. The early signs are promising and there’s already lots of people coming up with some really good ideas. One I like is the idea of “public circles” where you can sign up to a circle of your interest and follow what’s going on there. For example, a circle called “Irish Primary Teachers” could be shared and we could add ourselves there. The idea would be that we could get instant news from agencies relating to our jobs. Overall, there seems to be a lot of pluses to Google+.
Last Update: August 9, 2017