In case you didn't know there are thousands of educators and an array of learning communities over at Google+. And if you think Google+ is about to die, you are wrong. Many people are missing out on some great content, resources, and conversation. This social media is a great tool to expand your Personal Learning Network (PLN). Twitter is one of my favorite places to connect with other colleagues but not the only one.
Lately I have been spending more and more time over at Google+. It amazes me that some people think that it is a dead community. This is obviously not that case. Here you can find out why Google+ can provide an enhanced learning and experience:
- Circles - Unlike Twitter you can place all of the members of your PLN in different circles. With Twitter you send out a tweet and everyone who follows you, pulls up your page, or accesses the hash tag (if you use one) has an opportunity to see it. You can do the same thing on Google+, but you also have the ability to send your message to a specific circle, all of your circles, extended circles, or the entire Google+ world. With circles you can organize your PLN sort of the same way you would your websites using a social bookmarking tool.
- No Character Limits - Twitter is a bit prohibitive with it's 140 character limit. This is the one feature I love the most about Twitter as it allows me and others to be brief. What if you want more? With Google+ there are no character limits so you can be as detailed as you want. This really adds to your ability to make a point, explain a strategy, discuss an issue, etc. It also keeps all those random rants from entering into your stream that Twitter is becoming notorious for.
- Threaded Conversations - Twitter chats work for some, but they definitely do not work for all. Just the shear pace of a chat makes them difficult for many educators to follow. Personally I have found that when I try to engage and ask questions directed to specific people those questions go unanswered. With Google+ each update becomes a threaded conversation that you can engage in at your own pace. Comments also live in the update so you can go back and reference them at anytime. You can even share the thread across other social networks while accessing all of the resources, ideas, and knowledge that was discussed. I see this characteristic as bringing order to chaos.
- Dynamic Updates - In addition to sharing text, links, videos, and photos with Google+ you can also create and share events and polls right from your status update box.
- Hangouts - Many educators are aware of Google Hangouts (GHO's) that allow users to engage in free group video chat. Hangouts on Air are even more dynamic video chats where you can schedule live broadcasts, host interactive conversations by taking audience questions in real time or in advance, use live apps to enhance the viewing experience, and immediately archive to YouTube when finished.
- Communities - This is one of my favorite features of Google+. Anyone can join an existing community or create a new one. The difference between Twitter is that you can have rich conversations and share blog posts, resources, ideas/strategies, plan/publicize events, and have discussions aligned to specific categories. Evan Scherr and I have created a Digital Leadership Community. With the evolution of #digilead on Twitter our goal was to develop a space that brings together all the people, ideas, resources, and conversation related to digital leadership and learning. Evan and I hope that you will consider joining this community and sharing everything that you already do on Twitter. Not only is it free, but it gives you a chance to amplify your work and voice while engaging with like-minded educators at a deeper level.
Google+ is a powerful and dynamic social media tool that many educators and leaders are not taking advantage of. To begin simply start by setting up your circles, connect with other educators and share your content. Search for and join a few communities as well.