In recent months, I have been using Twitter and Facebook less and less and using Google+ more and more. I haven’t stopped using Twitter and Facebook, I’ve just gotten more out of Google+. I still use Facebook to keep up with friends and family, but check it much less during the day. I still enjoy getting news from Twitter, but the possibility for discussion with Twitter doesn’t really exist. If you have a GMail account, you already have a Google+ account. You just need to activate it and start sharing and networking. So, here are my five reasons why, if you are involved in education, you should be active on Google+.
1.) The concept of “Circles” on Google+ helps me share content with specific people and groups.
I am friends with many teachers on Facebook and enjoy interacting with them. However, when I post something that is intended more for teachers, my friends and family also have to tolerate it in their newsfeed. There are also things that are of more interest to math teachers, or high school teachers, or specific groups of teachers that everyone will have in their newsfeed as well. There is a way to share with specific groups in Facebook, but it the process is more tedious than with Google+. With “Circles” on Google+, I can share a story or article with specific groups or with multiple specific groups. I have circles of high school friends, middle school friends, math friends, and teachers in my district. I can share with one or combinations of those circles, depending on content. Also, my district recently made the switch to Google Apps for Education (GAFE) this year. I would like to set up a circle for my 8th Grade Math students and a circle for my Algebra students so I can present discussion topics to students and parents in different classes.
2.) I can share files from Google Drive with specific circles.
Much like sharing content with specific people in Google+, I can also share my docs from Google Drive with specific circles. Once I have my circles set up for my classes, I can share a Form or Doc with specific classes for them to complete. If I want to share an assessment or lesson over a specific topic, I can share it with just my math circle. I wouldn’t have to type in each person’s email address when I would share it through Google Drive. This makes sharing much more efficient, especially when sharing through the mobile app on my phone.
3.) Communities allow me to discuss specific topics with specific groups of people who aren’t in my circles.
This past week, I was informed that my district is trying to determine whether to go to a integrated math track in high school or a traditional track when making the transition to the Common Core standards. I went to the Common Core community, and asked for any input or advice as to which is better. Within minutes I got responses from teachers in Boston, Cedar Falls, Iowa, and North Dakota. They shared links to states that are doing traditional and the advantages of it. There was also discussion of how the district would help a student that came in from a district that used the traditional track and how you would help them transition or integrated. These were some great things that I hadn’t thought of and it was nice to get input.
As I said earlier, my district recently switched to GAFE and there are communities where teachers post things they are doing or using in their classroom with GAFE that you can use. There is the Google Apps in Education community, Google Apps for Education community, and Google Apps and the Common Core community. There are also content specific communities, grade level specific communities and many others. Some communities are public and some are private, so be sure to read the community description before you join.
4.) When I look at my Google+ page, I don’t see multiple ads and game invites.
As I woke up this morning, I saw I had two new Facebook notifications. I haven’t been posting anything, so I wasn’t sure what someone “Liked” or commented on. When I clicked on the notifications, I saw that I had been invited to play “Plants vs. Zombie Adventures” and “CardParty.” It feels like I sit for ten minutes about once a week and turn off the newest game invites, hide posts from some new game, or turn off everything from one of my friends that only uses Facebook to post their newest game updates. With Google+, there is none of this. I don’t ever see game invites or new high scores. It is a much cleaner newsfeed where I can get straight to the content I want to read.
5.) I can still use hashtags like Twitter, but I can have a discussion about those hashtags.
One of the things I’ve always likes about Twitter is the idea of hashtags or “#” for those of you who don’t use Twitter. I can search for specific hashtags and read what everyone is saying about that topic. However, I can’t post comments and start a discussion with those hashtags. With Google+, I can still search hashtags, but also comment on a person’s post about that topic. For example, I often search #ccss, or Common Core State Standards, and look at all of the posts on that topic. People often share their lessons and ideas for tasks for others to use. I can ask questions, say thanks, or just discuss their topic.
I am sure as I learn more tricks with Google+ that I will enjoy using it even more than Facebook and Twitter. If you decide to join, be sure to add me to your circles and start a discussion with me.