Google Plus is worth exploring for any teacher interested in keeping tabs on the edu world. There are a wealth of truly dedicated and wonderfully nerdy tech personalities sharing ideas and resources for the edtech community from behind their Google account.
The trick is knowing how to use Google Plus.
It can seem like an all or nothing platform - we've met people who have no idea how to interact with G+, while others are total Google converts, swearing by the social platform. This post is for the first category of users - those who’d be interested in living the Google+ dream, but are uncertain of where to start, how to interact, and who to follow.
The crash course starts here.
Since we published this fun Google Plus rundown, the fine folks at Google gave the platform a major facelift. In November Google Plus was retooled to better feature the Communities and Collections tools. More on that here.
We've updated components of this post to reflect the changes in G+ so you can learn the ropes and start searching for edu news, connections, and resources.
And now back to your regularly-scheduled content.
The Big Picture
What was meant to be a rival platform to Facebook has morphed into a platform of specialists - users incredibly passionate about specific things and interested in sharing resources about those topics - including edtech.
Google Plus is arguably better when it comes to sharing resources - at least compared to the likes of Facebook. This remains true with the platform's revamped focus on Communities. More on that in a bit.
A quick tour of your navigation, which can be found on the left-hand side of your screen via a nifty drop-down menu. Lots of familiar stuff here. You’ve got a profile to build out, complete with photo and cover photo, as well as basic personal information.
You’re able to connect with others through the “people” tab. What might take a little getting used to is the Google+ concept of using “circles.” Circles are just groups you create to organize your contacts. Perhaps you’ll do it by personal and professional contacts. Maybe you’ll create circles for different schools you’ve worked at, or one for former classmates. Think of adding people to circles as you would friending someone on Facebook or following them on Twitter. It's the connection point.
One quick differentiation: you’ll put individuals into your circles and you’ll “follow” pages and brands.
Following is very much like liking something on Facebook, but you can still place the pages/brands you follow into circles. You’ll get used to this. We promise; it’s a semantic distinction.
You’ll instantly recognize the space that prompts you to share content. It's pretty beefy. You can sense that this platform is about sharing. Links, pictures, video; it’s an intuitive setup.
If you look at the fine print at the bottom of that navigation on the left-hand drop down menu, you’ll find a collection of tours (also available here) that will show you around G+ even more.
Finding Edu Content
Turn your attention to the search bar at the top of your page. Seeking out content you’re interested in will often lead you here.
Do a search for “#edtech” or “#mlearning.” Not only do you get a feed of relevant content, but you get suggested tags to peruse. It becomes a bit of a rabbit hole, but overall, Google+ is very searchable. And that’s a good thing.
As mentioned, the recent G+ redesign put more emphasis on Google Communities, one of the most powerful features offered by the social platform. This is where you'll connect with people interested in the same things as you. Some communities require approval for membership, while others are entirely open. Here's more of the nitty gritty from Google.
And here are a handful of edu communities to peruse:
This is where Google Plus gets a little Pinteresty. This is a relatively new section of G+, but one with a lot of sharing potential. Collections are places to keep and follow the information you're most interested in.
Here's a list of edu collections to follow before creating a collection of your own:
Or thie EdTech one!
Cool, I'd Also Like Some Pages to Start Following
A reasonable request. Hit follow on these to get started on your G+ edtech journey.
We wanted to share at least one next-level tip. How about this: you can, and should, claim your custom url for Google+. It’s professional and potentially good for SEO purposes, if you’re into that sort of thing.
What do we mean by custom url? Head to your profile and look at the url. Does it look like this: https://plus.google.com/u/0/111002661553633580678 ??
Boo. Doesn’t this look better? https://plus.google.com/+JayneCMiller
Here is the step-by-step for tidying up that url.
There's so much more to talk about on this platform. If you’re looking for more info, we recommend this Udemy course. It covers lots of terrain and doesn’t skimp on the necessary basics. And while this intro article is a little dusty, most of the info remains accurate, making it a good piece to read if you’re still feeling everything out.