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Four things to help get you started with Google+

This was originally posted bSimon Evans on 18 Jan 2012. This is cross-posted as part of the transition of Software for Learning to Enabling e-Learning. 

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With 18 million users and the number continuing to rise Goolge+ continues to set records as the fastest-growing social network in history…

There are many within the New Zealand teaching community who have been inviting one another into Google+. If you are wondering how to get started here a few things that might help:

+You Stream

When you’ve logged into Google+ you’ll notice the Stream title; this is where you can add text, images, video, links or location - just as you would in Facebook.

But don’t click send just yet. There is an +more people button which will allow you to focus your message to the right circle of friends, colleagues or relations. You can add or delete the circles as you see fit.

+You Finding Friends

Once you’ve started sharing your thoughts or links with the world you may want to narrow that audience down to the groups of people closest to you. Select the circles icon beside the Find people text box.

You have three options here. Select people who have added you or select, find and invite or type in the details of individuals you wish to connect with in the find people text box.

In whichever case simply drag the person’s pic and name into the appropriate circle below.

+You Creating circles

Now that you’re in circles you will notice the limited number of circles to; friends, family, acquaintances and following.

If you select the drop here to create a new circle you can create and name as many circles as you wish. You can drag contacts to multiple circles. Your contacts will not know which circles they have been allocated to, unless of course you tell them.

Once you have created and filled your circles return to your stream and try writing an update, only selecting specific circles. It will look just the same on your stream but the update will only appear for those who are contained within your selected circles.

+You and your profile

To the left of the circles tab is profile. Select it and from here you can view

  • posts you have written in your stream
  • about containing your personal information
  • photos and videos you have shared
  • +1 likes you may have clicked on
  • any information you have within buzz.

Select About (your personal information)
Select Edit profile. Remember you only need share what you wish in this section. The uppermost edit box is called Introduction if you don’t want to share any other information about yourself a short sentence here to distinguish yourself from others with the same name may help others connect with you.

There are options when editing each of these fields. You can select whether to share this information with yourself (private) just with those in your circles, extended circles or with anyone on the web.

Things to consider:

  • What do you think are the educational possibilities of Google +?
  • For you, what does Google+ offer that may entice you away from Facebook?

Megan Melvin 26 July 2011

I have been 'enticed' already! Google + is more in tune with the modern day work/life imbalance - the lines are now blurred between family, friends and colleagues - sometimes one person is all three! Google + means I have all my tools in one toolbox instead of spread over five drawers of the kitchen that means I have to keep opening and closing all the time and remembering which ones has the can opener! My only reservations is putting all eggs in one basket and the threat of the 'big brother' business model that is rapidly becoming Google.

Karen Melhuish SpencerKaren Melhuish Spencer 27 July 2011 

Thanks, Simon.
I too have got set up in there (will see if I can track you down, MeganSmile
Perhaps the question for educators is: will/does Google+ offer particular opportunities for extending/enhancing learning that are not already supported by other tools? There may well be a perceived efficiency; as Megan says, the interweaving of other Google apps in a single platform would be a strength to schools already using Google, I'm sure
In terms of education, once membership is open to all, I can see a few applications:

  • closed circles for dedicated teaching/professional learning groups that offer a flexibility in terms of timing, content sharing
  • shared hangouts for small group discussion
  • the use of Sparks to channel relevant information to a circle
  • the way you can overlap circle membership to integrate activities at certain points across multiple groups.

For me, FB has always been a personal space, which has slowly been integrated with professional stuff; I like the way circles can separate the conversation when required.

As with all these, though, the challenge is managing what you share or don't share - and why and how - and while Google+ doesn't have the complex privacy settings, it is not as straightforward as one might assume.And the digital citizenship competencies are just as crucial.
I will watch the space with interestSmile

Jenny SheJenny She 5 August 2011

Hi Simon,
I love Google Plus!  Its privacy feature is most impressive.  With careful deilberation, the circles are very easy and convienent to use.  Facebook will not die but I can see that a lot of people have found G+ extremely attractive as the alternative social media platform.  For me, facebook is really a personal space and I don't use it on the profeesional level as a teacher.  On the other hand, I think it is possible to use G+ in the classrooms.

Enabling e-LearningEnabling e-Learning 21 February 2012

This link re: the changed age limit on Google+ has come via Kelly Faulkner/ICTs in English forum:
Google+ Now Open for Teens, With Extra Safety Precautions.
Anyone used/using it in school?

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