Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tuesday Teacher Tidbits: Google+

I know last week, that I went over (very briefly) some ways that you can use social networking in your teaching and classrooms.

This week, I wanted to spend a bit more time on Google+, since this is the newest and most likely the least "familiar" social network for most people.

But first, a few announcements for the week.

1.  I will be traveling to Lake Benton tomorrow, November 14th.
2.  Today is the Girls Basketball meeting after school, to be followed by open gym.
3.  There will be another open gym on Thursday for Girls Basketball.
4.  Elkton Basketball Gear is for sale.  If you want an order form:  click here
5.  I will be travelling to Harrisburg on Friday, to attend a technology conference hosted by Apple.

And now, on to Google+

Simply put, and I mentioned this last week, Google+ is basically Google's answer to Facebook.

But, and it's a BIG BUT.... It's better.  Don't take my word for it.  Want a 3rd opinion?

First, the layout of the Google+ Page is similar to Facebook...but there are a few other things on there.

screen shot of my page
As you can see from this picture...  it's familiar.  You can do any of these things similar to facebook:

  • Post photos online (and create albums)
  • Post events (and invite people)
  • Edit/change your profile information
  • And of course....make posts to put out there, in which you can include pictures, links, and videos.
  • Determine which group you want to see and/or post to.  (Google+ calls these "circles")
However, if you look on the right side of the page... you see that Google+ has a "trending" feature, similar to what twitter has.  What these are...is simply subject matter that is being discussed on Google plus in high volume.

So... How or Why is Google+ better?

Well... There are a number of ways.

First... within the Google+ "Chat" function.... there is an option to do video chat, which they call a "Hangout".

If you click on the "Start a hangout" button, you will be prompted to invite others to your hangout, and you can video chat with them over Google+.  (Very similar to Skype)

Another thing you can do with Google+, is find new and interesting information, articles, links, Photos, etc... that are recommended for you based on your "interests" (who and what you are 'following').  The link for this is located on the left side menu bar, and is titled "Explore".  If you click on "Explore" your Google+ page will load with a number of interesting articles and links.  (again, this will be 'personalized' for your experience...depending on what you follow, and/or post about).

A post from "Did you know"
A post on the Galaxy Nexus

The "Circle" function within Google+ is really neat and simple to do.  You are allowed to create and manage as many "circles" as you want.  And it is just so easy to use.  You simply select people from the "suggestions" at the top of the page, and drag them into your desired circle.  In addition, you can "search" for people, or businesses, or things of that nature...that you want to add to your circles.
Manage circles by simply "dragging" people into the circle.

Another Neat thing about Google+, is that since it is a Google product, it's integrated into google...  So if you do a google search for something, and you want to share the results of that search you can do it right from your Google page.

See the picture below, in which I did a simple search for "Girls Basketball Uniforms".  Notice that on the top right of the page.... there is an option to "Share" this information in Google+.  Really neat feature.... streamlines the need to copy and paste links to e-mail or things like that.

The last thing about Google+ that sets it apart from other social networks is the "Streamified" Ap.  To use "Streamified" you need to run the Chrome Web Browser (which is of course, Google's web browser).

Streamified is added to your chrome browser, through the chrome "Ap Store".  What Streamified does... is puts all your social media networks.... into your Google+ feed.  So there is no need to change websites, check facebook, look at twitter, log in to LinkedIn, and then go to Google+.  You can see them all, at the same time with Streamified.
See the "Streamified" Ap, in the top right of the browser?

See the two posts here... one from facebook, another twitter...right within the Google+ Stream
One thing I would add about "Streamified".  I would probably do this on my "personal" computer, and not for school work.  (You can have Streamified on your school machine, and still choose to see only the Google+ stream, though).  This way, when you are sitting at home and surfing the web, you can see all your social media in one place!

So How and/or Why should you use Google+?
-Well, after doing some research into Google+, and talking with people who use it.  I have found that it is mostly a "professional" type of social network.  I heard it explain this way:  " I do "family" stuff on Facebook, check the news on Twitter, and discuss and collaborate with colleagues on Google+".

To sign up for Google+, it's very simple... all you need is a Google Account (Which most staff members should have already).  And you can set up your Google+ account just by clicking on the +Name that is listed at the top left of your Google web page (if you are signed in).

Click on your Name+ in the top left, to log in to set up your google+ account.

Well, that was certainly a very long post.  I hope you found it informational, and maybe it "spurs" a few people to give Google+ a shot.  It's an excellent application, and something that can certainly be used in education...whether that be for Staff Development, collaboration, Parent Teacher Conferences (you could do a make-up over the Hangouts!), or just research (by following people and/or magazines, journals, etc... that are in your field).

Please let me know if you would like to set up a Google+ account, but are unsure how to get started, and I will be glad to help you "get your feet wet".

If you want... I'm including a short video here, kind of a simple "Users Guide".


  1. Cool, like the streamified part and will try it out! Now, Nexus 10 or Surface?