Friday, August 30, 2013

Using Google+ for Education

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Last November, I was invited by Google Business Group - Cebu to speak about Using Google+ for Education at the Google+ Workshop at the University of the Visayas New School of Media and Design. It was a privilege to speak and share my passion for the integration of technology into education and the revolutionary ideas in classroom instruction.

The crowd was not composed of mainly educators and/or parents who might be able to make use of the ideas I presented but I was sure enough that those people have been using Social Media and considering such, everyone is said to have educated in a way or two through their networks in different social media platforms. I started my talk by citing the impact of social media to the modern landscape of the education field. I also reiterated the basic characteristics of 21st Century Education in an effort to establish connections between these characteristics and the social media platforms and their possible impacts. However, the main focus was on the use of Google+ for Education highlighting different applications that, if enhanced and properly used, will help the students learn better. The next few paragraphs will help you identify the different applications of Google+ in education. In a way, this is the transcript of my talk but I added more ideas to help us understand better what is Google+ and how it can be used in education.

What is Google+?
Although I started my talk by citing the impact of social media to the present landscape of education, it would be an understatement to say that Google+ is just another social media platform. According to Martin Shervington, Google+ is a phenomenal tool for human communication, and much more. ...It is bringing people together within the context of many of Google’s services. It is, quite simply, something to be experienced for yourself. Think of all the Google tools and applications and sum them up -- they're all in one roof for ease of use and expand one's technological horizon.

Using Google+ for Education
Considering that Google+ is an aggregate of all Google services, this technology can be helpful in enriching classroom instruction by making use of various Google tools as learning platform. Here are some of the applications that can be effectively used to enhance our students' learning experiences.

Google Hangout. Established to replace Google talk, Hangouts are simply sitting with your students   while engaged in a meaningful discussion about a particular topic.  There will be times wherein, as much as you would like to talk more about a certain topic in your classroom, time would not permit. For enrichment, you can schedule a hangout where you can entertain more questions from your students or simply device a presentation wherein your students can interact with you just like you're in the same classroom. Click HERE for an awesome guide to Google Hangout. 

Google Circles. You want to add your students in your network but there are some posts that might not be appropriate for them or you want to post an announcement on Google+ specifically for your students. Google Circles is the answer. Through Circles, you can organize your networks into different groups. What are circles? Here's a great VIDEO you can learn from.

Google Plus Communities. Create communities -- specifically, learning communities through Google Plus Communities. G+ communities allow one to communicate with the members of the community, share ideas and collaborate on a particular learning activity. Posting updates and information helpful for the learners has never been a hassle with Google Plus Communities. 

YouTube. I would call this application or tool infamous for legends were started through the platform. Infamous as it is, there are hundreds of videos on YouTube that every teacher can make use in the classroom. As free video-sharing community, the tool can be utilized  to upload instructional videos or even simply learning from the available instructional videos of various topics. I learned from a former colleague that a YouTube video on bullying she shared in her Values Education class inspired her students to take action against bullying. 

Google Drive. Replacing Google Docs, Google Drive revolutionizes file sharing as it integrates cloud backup for learning files. To minimize paper usage in my classroom, I usually advise my students to send their works through Google Drive. The advantage is not only environmental -- it also allows me to provide immediate feedback to my students as I easily evaluate their works as soon as they upload it and. If they happen to be online, they can even work on the corrections real time. The feature also encourages collaboration.

I am sure that aside from the applications that I have mentioned, there are still a number of other applications. However, I indicated only the tools that I am fond of using. I hope you find this helpful.    


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