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Google+ You = What?

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I am not what some would call a "social person." I have more Twitter accounts than tweets and I haven't been on Facebook for over 6 months. So why am I writing to you about Google+?

Google+ ("Google Plus") was recently added to the University's suite of Google Apps. Although the U has been slow to turn on most features, we are actually an early adopter of Google+ which gives us a unique opportunity to explore creative uses for this social media tool.

What I like best about Google+ is that it gives our University community a new method of sharing class-related, work-related, or research-related content without involving old high school friends on Facebook or summarizing ideas to 140 characters for Twitter.

A quote in Monday's Daily echoed my thoughts that Facebook is "overrun with needless stuff." It is this excess of trivialities that makes it unappealing me and, in my opinion, generally unsuitable to many of our education-related needs. But in the U's Google+, we now have a special environment to be social about learning, about work, and about our own community. And I like that. Maybe I'm not a social person at home, but at work I can't afford not to be.

With Google+, you can:

* Start classroom conversations without invading students' private lives
* Better manage a proper work-life balance: leave Google+ at the office, and leave Facebook at home

Google+ also provides a few new features that we might find useful:

* Circles: because not every message is for every "friend" (e.g., separate students from colleagues)
* Hangouts: make use of your webcam for quick, cheap, and easy group chats (e.g., office hours, group meetings)
* Pages: a place for your class, unit, or group
* Integration: Google+ is integrated into the Google Apps toolbar for easy access**

I'm not an expert yet. But I'm making an effort to post a few times every week. I'm more excited about what Google+ can become than what it is today. A feature-by-feature comparison with Facebook misses the point. Reports that Google+ can't match the number of Facebook users is actually one of its main...pluses.

Ready to experiment? Click on the "+your name" button at the left of the Google Apps (Gmail) tool bar.


Here are a few links to learn more about the tool:

* Learn More about Google+
* 9 Reasons to Switch from Facebook to Google+
* What's New in Google+

** - If you are not using the Gmail web client, start doing so now. New services and advancements are being added all the time. It's time to drop Thunderbird, Apple Mail, and other desktop mail clients.

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