For the past few years educators have sought a way to utilize social networking to communicate and collaborate with other teachers, parents and students. From Twitter to Facebook teachers have created streams to alert parents of upcoming assignments, Q&A pages and be available for students long after the school doors have closed.
The problem with most social networking sites is they are blocked by most K-12 institutions. Attempting to keep Tweets current is next to impossible when sending them from home. Security and privacy issues have run amuck with teachers ‘friending’ students on Facebook. In fact, teachers have lost their job for placing school administratively deemed inappropriate photos on their wall. My school district has mandated that educators follow certain guidelines for teachers to adhere to when students or their parents attempt to become our social network friend. Some people may call this extreme but I view said guidelines as a form of protection for all involved.
- The use of circles makes it simple for teachers to separate their personal and professional lives.
- Collaboration is easily fostered with the use of circles. Check out this idea from the folks at Stanford.
- Form a Hangout with office hours to answer questions from parents and students.
- Share ideas with teachers
- Engage introverted students
- Unlike Twitter, conversation streams are archived should discussions need to be accessed months later.
The future of Google+ in education remains to be seen. This tool can be amazing if K-12 institutions do not block the service. Additionally, teachers need to be trained on how to effectively utilize Google+ with stakeholders. According to Ashley May, a teacher in the Houston Independent School District (HISD) and my former employer, “(HISD) even purchased Google Apps accounts for the kids last year.” When the nation’s larger school districts start something, others will follow. Jump on Google+ by viewing the video below and start building your circles today.