‘Hangout’ with Your Students Using Google
Multidisciplinary 26, 36
English Language Arts 30
Digital Citizenship 32
Professional Development 34
We’ll come clean right now. Despite the love-hate relationship we sometimes have with Google’s ever-changing features, we both firmly believe
that Google Apps for Education facilitates connected,
collaborative, and creative learning environments. And
now that Google+ is available to K– 12 institutions, some
educators are asking good questions:
• Should we be incorporating social software into our
online learning environments? (Yes, we realize this
sounds like an antiquated question to some people.)
• What are the instructional uses?
• What are the professional uses for educators?
• Does it require a modification to our school’s internet
filter or our acceptable use policy?
• What do administrators, teachers, and students need to
know when choosing to set up their Google+ accounts?
If you’re considering rolling out Google+, here are some
suggestions for how to do it, along with some implications
There are many ways for students to interact online, including using learning management systems, blogging tools,
and social networking sites. Before choosing any tool,
consider the return on users’ investment. They should be
easy to locate and simple to navigate, and they should allow
users to interact in efficient ways. For example, in traditional
learning management system discussion forums, students
might read more responses if the comments are easier to see
because they wouldn’t have to click around so much, and
they might respond more frequently to comments if the tone
is more conversational. It also helps if the tool is something
students are comfortable with and are already using.
We think that as a part of Google Apps for Education,
Google+ meets this criteria and provides students and educators with a place to engage in meaningful interaction using real-world tools. It doesn’t hurt that Google+ is part of
the same suite of tools as Google Drive, Gmail, Sites, and
many other frequently visited apps.
Exploring the Features of Google+
If you’d like to try using Google+ in the classroom,
here are some features to explore:
A “circle” in Google+ allows users
to classify who they interact with.
Once you create your circles,
then you can easily choose which
circles to share posts with. It is
similar to a contact list in Gmail,
but with some added bonuses. For
example, as a teacher, you may want
to create a circle for your first-period
class. Then it becomes easy to send a quick reminder about
tomorrow’s test to only those students. You could just
email the group, but Google+ allows you to create interac-
tive spaces that go beyond the basics of posting questions,
answering questions, and posting related content.
Similar to Facebook’s group pages,
Google+ Communities offer a place
where groups can communicate,
post, and share files within a
group. You can choose managers
and members and invite specific
users. Say, for example, you are
starting a new unit and you want
to engage students in brainstorming
and anticipatory activities. Members—both teachers and
students—can respond and incorporate their own digital
content, or content from other sources, which requires
students to synthesize the relevant information they find.
The communicative and collaborative sharing features of
Google+ Communities allow students to engage in a topic
or content in different ways, and it allows educators to fa-
cilitate supported discussions, inquiry, and sharing.
Incorporating tools and technologies that are accessible outside
higher education, and community involvement.