This is the third in a series of my thoughts about the use of social media for Professional Learning. Earlier, I had talked about Twitter and Facebook. The inspiration for this came as a result of a reply from @tk1ng about his observations of the hesitancy of younger teachers to use social media. I really find this disappointing given that there is so much to be gained by being connected.
The people, the immediacy, the relevancy, the direct-to-lesson plan potential, the diversity of opinion, … I shudder when I think of the alternatives because I lived them before connectivity…you wait for the once a month professional journal (or two once you work yourself up the grid…), you put a hold on a journal in the school library, gosh even typing this seems so archaic.
Today, I’d like to offer my thoughts on a relatively new entry to the social learning arena – Google+. I would suggest that the lack of uptake is entirely because of its late entry. In fact, I would go so far as to say that if this service had been earlier to the party, it would have made the other services redundant. Google+ potentially has it all.
For now though, it does have its own special place in my professional learning.
Twitter is wide open. Anything posted there potentially goes anywhere. The power and popularity lies in its simplicity. Facebook has certain controls where you can control where your content is potentially read. It is a nice hybrid of everything for the world to learn/share and those private this that you may wish to keep among family and friends. Of course, you have to worry about friends of friends and others “tagging” you in pictures and their friends seeing it. Through a menu of choices, you can control who sees what. You just hope that you get it right. Google+ had controls built in from the start. Things are very intuitive through its use of circles. Just define your own circle and add people to the appropriate circle. When you post, you just make sure that you post to the right one.
My set of circles look like the above. To be honest, when I’m reading, I typically am either following what’s trending and go to the “Following” group. There is a group that I’ve added to the end and my apologies go to my next door neighbour from our jobs a few years ago. I distinctly remember her thoughts about DEAR (Drop Everything And Read) in the classroom. However, the concept caught with me and there are currently 8 people in that smallish circle. Of all my circles, it’s the most volatile. When someone posts something good, I’ll add them to that circle with the hope that there will be more forthcoming.
Like Twitter and Facebook, you only get from Google+ what you put into it. You don’t get hit over the head with inspiration, you need to work to find it. Many people are using Google+ as their blogging platform; others are using it to share links and resources. I tried the former but went back to WordPress. I tend to be in the latter part. I think that I would share more if Google opened up posting ability to more services. Right now, I use things like Shareaholic, DLVR.IT, IFTTT, Zite, and homemade scripting to post once and have things go many places. At this point, Google+ appears to like to have things done automatically.
The result is a little more work. However, I will say that my Following and DEAR groups provide a seemingly endless form of research and information for the Google+ user. Probably the most impressive thing, at this point, is that everyone seems to stay on topic. There isn’t the friendly banter and interchange that one finds on other services. I head here for on-topic resources.
By itself, that would be enough to recommend Google+. But it’s just the tip of the iceberg. With other services, you might use Skype for online face to face meetings. Or copy/paste something from your email to share and pass along. Or use a third party resource to find new people in your area. Or nip over to any of the online services to build and share documents with team members. Guess what?
With your humble Google ID, you’ve got it all in Google+. There’s no leaving the service to do this and flipping over there to do that.
All of the goodness that your Google account has provided over the years is just a menu away. There is no simplified menu, to be sure. But if you’re a user of Gmail or Google Drive or Google Maps or Google …, you know the routine. It’s all there and waiting in Google+. Need a quick conference? Join a Google Hangout! Looking to chat with others? Open your own Google Hangout. Options abound across the top of the screen and along the left side. Unlike Twitter where you never really know if your audience is currently online, with Google+ their availability shows on the right side of your screen.
Add to all this, there is a dynamite Google+ application for iPad users. Of course, if you’re an Android user, you’re at home already. There just isn’t a shortage of ways to make this your favourite learning environment. Need to blog? How about Blogger?
It’s sad but Google+ was late getting to a party dominated by Facebook and Twitter. It’s not too late for you though. Digging around, creating the best of circles, incorporate all the Google things that you’ve used for years and you’ve got a very powerful learning environment.
- What Does Google+ for PD Mean? (dougpete.wordpress.com)
- What Does Facebook for PD Mean? (dougpete.wordpress.com)
- Google upgrades Gmail video chat with Hangouts (techworld.com.au)
- Top 10 Reasons Why Twitter is Better Than Google Plus (ppc.org)
- Think Google+ is a ghost town? Chances are you’re just using it wrong (thenextweb.com)