And now, after looking more into it and organizing my thoughts (as much as I ever do—see photo on left), I find that I actually have more than half an hour of content to cover, in my Google Plus for Education talk. Much more. But the online session is set to shut down right after 2:30, I believe, so I’ll have to restrain myself.
(The in-person session went OK. Not amazingly, but not badly.)
Here are the links I’ll share:
- Google Plus Cheat Sheet
- Michelle Stephens’s talk (57 minutes) on using Google Plus with students – covers the pros and cons and many of the nitty-gritty details I won’t have time to get to
- Michelle Stephens’s blog posts on Google Plus, which, again, go into really useful detail, both on the pro and con side
- Sarah Houghton-Jan’s post about teaching Google Plus – this is included to help you, if you want to turn around and teach it to others
- My G+ Profile, in case anyone wants to chat about any of this
Here’s a very, very condensed version of what I plan to say, with the basics of using G+ left out:
- Blackboard is awful. It lacks basic community-building options like avatars and “like” functionality, and discussions are super clunky, due to little-to-poor notification functionality (from the students’ perspective).
- Ideally, we would be able to find something that 1) maintains student privacy; 2) students are already using (or can be taught to use with minimal difficulty); 3) makes discussions easy, with threading, avatars, and text markup; and 4) has notification settings that can easily be toggled. G+ hits most of those, though its markup is a little tricky (*bold*, _italic_), and setting up circles for classes is a little tricky—rather, getting students to all add each other is tricky.
- Once everyone is all circled up, though, discussions would be very easy. Post a thing, ask people to +1 it when they’ve read it, encourage students to post to the circle, encourage discussion of what gets posted…
- Hangouts are great for (up to 10) people working together on group projects, committees, and virtual office hours. You can share Google Docs, watch YouTube videos together, and, if I’m not mistaken, screen share.
- Using it for a real-time backchannel, during class, would be pretty great. Goodbye clickers, I never liked you anyway.
- Two caveats: most universities will frown on discussing grades in G+, since Google’s privacy policies are a little vague. (I don’t know if we email our students their grades, but if we do, then it’s a non-issue, since they’re already in Gmail.) Also, Google’s not entirely 508 compliant. They’re working on it. But you may find yourself unable to require G+ interactions, since there may be students with disabilities who can’t use it—I assume the same policies as we have for Gmail would apply.