What is.....Google Plus?

How many times have you been in a meeting, or on a train or in a crowd or at a party, and someone starts talking about some social-web-internetty-media-thing-a-ma-bob like it's the second coming of you know who and you have no idea what they are talking about? It might as well have been a new laundry detergent in Croatia.

Me too. I don't pretend to know everything or even a lot of things or more than the next guy. What I do have going for me however is a want, no need, to know about things. New things and in particular, techie things.

So here's something new. I will endeavor to explain, in as few words as possible, stuff. Stuff like Facebook, Twitter, DropBox etc. If you have questions, feel free to ask.

These are not meant to be in-depth explorations of the subject at hand, just quick explanations as to what they are. I try to keep them short, easily digestible and relatively buzzword free.

image from wikicommons

The simplest explanation is that Google+ is Google's Facebook. It is a social media network like Facebook but it has a lot of cool things that set it apart from it's rival.

Circles are the way that you "sort" your "friends" on Google+. Sure you can sort your friends on Facebook but Google's run at it is more user friendly. You can broadcast to circles and exclude them from broadcasts as well which makes separating your work and private life easier. If your school or district allows it (and you want to implement it), you could conceivably have your students in one circle, parents in another and, because you can publish to specific circles excluding the ones you don't want to see your post, they wouldn't see the pictures you posted of your annual pub crawl.

Google+ Hangouts are why you have video chat in Facebook. When the Google+ Beta rolled out with Hangouts Facebook went all crazily and implemented video chat in it's network. There is a browser plugin to load for Hangouts (Facebook requires one too). I know this is a touchy subject union-wise but you could, on snow days for instance, have a quick 10 minute check in with your students about homework or giving them a snow day related prompt or assignment. You could also provide one-to-one tutoring without actually needing to physically be there.

Again, Facebook has these too, but you can use pages for classes, interests etc. You can post as "the page" and comment as "the page" as well.

There's a lot more to Google+. Here's a link to a great article on Te@chThought on using Google+ in the classroom to help get you started. Signup for Google+ is free and there's a lot to see and use. Let me know what you find and in what ways you integrate it with your classroom.