How Google+ Is Changing Education
In 2011, everyone was talking about Google+, a new social networking platform originally expected to be similar to Facebook or Twitter. Opinions were heavily divided. While some people believed Google+ was a positive addition to the world of social media, others argued that there was no reason to add yet another social network to the mix when there were already so many—incidentally, the same argument was prevalent among critics when Twitter first emerged. Google+ offered several useful tools that were unavailable on Facebook, and it quickly became popular among Internet users of all ages.
Some of the unique features of Google+ make it a highly useful social networking platform for educators and students. One such feature is the ability to create circles. When a user makes a post or uploads media, he or she can elect to make it available to everyone or a limited group. Using this technology, a teacher can easily create a circle for his or her students and use it to send information about class schedules, homework and exams. Students can also create a circle for classmates in a specific class which might foster collaboration between students.
Another Google+ feature useful for students and teachers is Hangouts. A hangout allows up to ten people to join a group video chat and interact with one another. Using a hangout, a teacher can hold an online study session with up to nine students at the same time. Students can also use this feature to work on group projects or talk about homework.
In addition, hangouts are especially beneficial for students taking online classes. Prior to the development of Google+, online classes were often conducted using electronic correspondence technologies, such as email and class websites. However, with the use of a hangout, a teacher can conduct an online course in real time. Students can ask questions, and the teacher can provide an immediate answer. This revolutionary development allows online courses to function more similarly to a standard offline course, which brings online education to a completely new level.
Along with the circle and the hangout, Google also offers several educational applications that can support online learning. For example, OpenClass is an application that allows students to access notes, assignments, books and grades all in one place. A second application, called Google Docs, allows students and teachers to create documents, presentations and spreadsheets which is useful for collaboration on class documents. Finally, some of Google’s more general applications, such as Google Calendar and Gmail, are also useful in education. Gmail allows students and teachers to communicate via email, while Google Calendar allows educators to notify students about class schedules and exam dates.
Google +, released prior to the beginning of the traditional fall semester, has grown to over 90 million regular, monthly users. As more schools adopt Google products for better engagement among faculty, administration and students, innovation in education is sure to grow.
About the author: Derrick Cruise is a professional writer living in the Indianapolis area. He specializes in social media and career search articles.