I sort of got volunteered to give a talk on Google Plus (seriously, I missed a meeting of UAA’s Elearning Working Group (“Elearn”) to go to my library’s holiday party in early December, and I found out in January that I would be giving a half-hour presentation via Elluminate Live on February 17). I see how they decided to volunteer me: I’m on Elearn’s Social Networking in Education subcommittee, and Google Plus was the social network I researched. I did the bulk of the work in putting together a pros & cons list, on using G+ in place of some of Blackboard’s (dis)functionality. It was logical enough. And I don’t mind, really.
Or, well, I kind of mind, because I’m currently really overwhelmed: between my role so far in getting Group G’s Emerging Leaders project off the ground, the preparations I need to do for the upcoming Alaska Library Association conference (our state NMRT is still finding its feet, so I’ve found myself doing a lot of duck-herding types of tasks, in addition to the standard Chair duties; also, I am supposed to do a Pecha Kucha-style talk during one of the conference sessions), the work I’ve been doing with Alaska Library Snapshot Day, and my post-conference ALA NMRT to-do list, plus, you know, my day-to-day job, I’m feeling quite overwhelmed. Adding to all of that the preparation of 1) a half-hour session on using a social network I like very much, but 2) don’t use daily, to supplement classroom instruction, which 3) I almost never do, to be presented via software that I use regularly enough, as a participant, but 4) have never had to use as a teacher, when 5) one of my known weaknesses is talking to someone I can’t see (seriously, you should hear the voicemails I leave)… well, I’m not at my best, right now. I’m sure I’ll be glad to have the experience, once it’s over.
And, anyway, that’s why The Powers That Be gave us things like quiet Wednesday night and (please oh please) quiet Saturday afternoon reference shifts, right? So we could do research on things we don’t know about and become the experts our peers seem to have decided we must be? :)
And, to my delight, some of the work has been done for me. For instance, check out this awesome list of 10 ways to use Google Plus in the classroom! I hadn’t thought of some of these! I’m going to read everything she has written about Google Plus in (and out of) the classroom, because she’s discussed it at length and seems to have a nuanced view of it, as opposed to some of the unabashed fandom (or anti-fandom) you normally see, which is so very weak on details and therefore not helpful at all.
The Mobile Professor’s list of potential improvements to the Hangout function makes it clear to me that I need to practice more with Hangouts before I try to teach anyone else about it—not that Hangouts are the only useful G+ function for faculty looking to connect better with students. I am great with Circles and sharing from Reader and so on, and those are also going to be important aspects of my talk. But holding office hours (or other meetings) in Hangouts is a great function and one I feel like I should be able to explain better than I currently can… (I’ve done Hangouts, but not many of them, and always just for fun.) Is anyone interested in experimenting with Hangouts, with me, on Sunday or Monday?
(Ironically, or perhaps just unfortunately, my Emerging Leaders group is going to be meeting via Hangouts… but our first meeting is not until February 28th, well after I’m supposed to give this talk. I will actually be an expert on G+ Hangouts, later this semester! Bummer!)
Anyway, if you’ve done anything awesome with G+ in the classroom, or to supplement classroom meetings, and you’re willing to share, please let me know! I’d love to chat with you!