Google+ has only been active for over a year now and educational technology experts can't seem to get enough of it. There is one obvious reason for this: It is the distincitve novelty feature Google+ has.More and more new features are being released every now and then and the latest of them all was just a couple of days ago with the introduction of a new user friendly interface with amazing options such as rearranging the order in which your favourite apps appear on your homepage. You can read Google Official Post to learn more about this new update.
While Google Plus is still struggling to catch up with the popular social media networks such as Facebook ( over 700 million users ) and Twitter ( 200 million users ), the network has already attracted a growing base of users that amounts to 170 million users and is expected to be the future social networking pioneer. We , on Educationla Technology and Mobile Learning, have already been using this tool since its launch ( Join Our Page on Google Plus ) and based on this modest experience together with the investigative research we have been doing for some time now, we came up with a list of tips to help our fellow educators, teachers and even students make the best of it in education and leverage it to our advantage.
Some Features of Google Plus and how We can Use Them in Education
Among the strengths we have noticed in Google Plus and that give it a huge potential in education over other social networks are the following set of distinctive features :
1- Circles :
This is one of the most used features. This tool allows users to manage their followers and share their updates with them. As teachers we can use Circles to create a circle for our class and invite students to join it. If possibile, students can also create their own circles based on a specific topic. For instance student working on environment project creates a circle called environment ...etc. Teachers can also use this service to post their class announcements and important links.
Watch this video to Learn more about Google Plus Circles
This is another often cited feature of Google+. It allows users to video chat with up to 10 people in real time and for free. Users can see each other in small boxes while the person who is speaking appears in a large window top. This is a great way for teachers to hold online classes with group of students who need help. They can also arrange for online chatting sessions to discuss topics of relevant interest.
Watch this video to learn more about Google Plus Hangouts
3- Data Downloading
Teachers and student can use this service to upload, edit, and create documents. They can house all their data within the system, schedule events, and share materials in a very secure environment. Moreover, Google Takeouts offers users the ability to download their persoanl data and updates easily. Teachers will not worry about their and the students' data if they decide to leave the service anytime they want.
Using notification feature, teachers will be able to control when and how to be contacted when new content is posted. They can select among three ways either by using browser notification, email or text message or all of the three. Students will use the method they like to kepp updated about their information streaming system.
5- Group Work
Google+ is one of the best platforms for team work. By creating circles, students will be able to work in both open and closed groups with the teacher being able to see the chatter of all the groups in their course stream wihtout having to manually visit each group. Students can also see who is online and start meetings and chat within the course itself.
6- Photos/ Videos
When users upload photos and videos these latters are automatically arranged into albums. Changing the privacy setting allows teachers to share albums of relevant interest with specific circles. In this way, you can share albums containing photos, videos, charts,graphs, cartoons with students provided they belong to specific groups.
Watch this video to learn how to upload videos to Google Plus
Watch this video to learn how to create an album and upload photos to Google Plus
This is one of the least known features of Google+. Both teachers and students can use it to find content like articles and videos related to any topic they can think of. At the bottom of each piece of content is a share button that makes it easy to show it to those in your groups.
Watch this video to learn more about Sparks feature
7- Mobile Capabilities
Google has now apps that you can use both on Android and iOS devices. Teachers and students can benefit from all the above mentioned features on the go and wherever they are provided they have an internet connection. There is also a mobile chat feature called Huddles that allows users to chat with many friends at once.
That's it for now but stay tuned for tomorrow or the day after tomorrow I will post a follow up article here containing a list of the best education circles for teachers and students.