Google+ enters Classrooms

social_learning-google+Google+ may have several features that are similar to Facebook , but this new networking site is a lot better than Facebook, when it comes to sharing information with a specific group of people, rather than sending  the updates to every online friend in your network. Some professors who have used Google+ feel that this feature can help them use the networking site for teaching purposes and for sharing research related information with others, according to a recent report by The Chronicle.

Facebook’s default ‘sharing with everyone in your personal network’ feature has created a dilemma for professors  and students who want to connect online. There have been times when the students have inadvertently shared their party pictures and other private information with their teachers on Facebook. Professors have also accidentally shared comments that were meant only for fellow instructors, with the students. Facebook does allow for some selective sharing, but it’s a lot more difficult to manage the whole thing, and as a result many professors end up using Facebook for personal communications only, rather than using it for teaching purposes and for interacting with students.

With Google Plus, social networkers can assign a ‘Circle’ to each new contact they add and create as many Circles as they like. Every time they post an update, they can select the circles that can view the updates being made. It’s like having access to all your connections from one place and yet be able to connect with each person in your network personally.

“I don’t friend my students, because the ability to share is so clunky on Facebook. Google+ gives us ways to connect with people that we can’t do on Facebook”, says Jeremy Littau, an assistant professor of journalism at Lehigh University. Mr. Littau also plans to hold optional review sessions for exams using the ‘Hangouts’ feature. “I can host chats a few nights a week,” he says.

B.J. Fogg, director of Stanford University’s Persuasive Technology Lab and a consulting faculty member for computer science, says he plans to use Google Plus to collaborate on research projects.“Probably every project in my lab will have its own circle”, he adds.

“One of the great aspects of Google+ is your ability to create private circles, where you can share information. When the new school year starts, I’ll form Circles for each of my classes – and I’ll add all of those students to a larger Ball State University Circle, with all my former students in it. We can use the Hangout function to have adhoc meetings about writing or projects when necessary, removing geography as a barrier to work”, says Brad King, an assistant professor and Emerging Media Fellow at the Ball State University, on his blog.

So, while Facebook seems to be the most preferred way to have personal communications, and LinkedIn had been a popular platform to connect with people on the professional level. Google+ seamlessly blends both these features; and enables networkers to interact with selective group of people; and maintain personal, professional, and countless other networks, all at one place.

So, do you think teachers and students can benefit from Google+? Let us know your ideas in the comments section.

); ga('send', 'pageview');