Although a bit late to the party, Google+ has quickly established itself as a major player in the social media multiverse. It provides users with a robust and feature-full interface that connects them to others via “Circles”, each of which contains a different type of connection. “Family”, “CAIS Members”, or “CoWorkers” are examples of the types of Circles one could create. Updates or posts can then be directed to the most relevant audience by selecting the appropriate Circle of connections. This simple concept allows users to curate a learning network comprised of any number of different Circles.
One of the most powerful features of Google+ is the ability to create Communities. In addition to Circles, users can create private or public Communities that allow members to easily share posts, resources, and updates with each other. At our school, we have created a few different types of Communities among the faculty. We have division Communities, which empower all faculty in each division (i.e., Lower, Middle, Upper) to connect in an effort to support and encourage one another’s work. Teachers can quickly share class resources, pose questions, and create events – all within the context of their Community. In addition, some academic departments have created Communities to encourage more cross-divisional collaboration and communication. Even if you’re not ready to begin your own G+ Community, there are thousands that you can join. Interested in education technology? Are you a science teacher? Want to connect with other independent school educators? Chances are, if you have a passion or hobby, there’s a Google+Community out there waiting for you to join!
For most of us, video conferencing is no longer an option – it’s a requirement. And while there are many tools that can be used, Google Hangouts is among the best. Users can quickly connect with up to 15 other participants in a video conference call. From there, they can share screens for collaboration, group edit a project, and have a little fun with the special effects..! If 15 participants is insufficient, Google Hangouts makes it easy to live broadcast your video conference on YouTube for others to view! When it’s finished, the video will automatically be archived for later use. Additionally, Hangouts is available on mobile devices as well!
Finally, Google+’s native connection to Drive, Gmail, and Calendar makes it an incredibly powerful tool. It is a seamless process to embed any type of Doc or Presentation into a post. Community Events will automatically be added to Calendar. And users can elect to have notifications sent via Gmail.
In short, Google+ is a simple way to develop your personal learning network, communicate with colleagues, and continue growing as a connected and collaborative school leader. It’s proven invaluable to faculty at our school, and I would be very interested to hear how it has impacted your professional learning as well.