Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Google Plus Communities


What is Google Plus?

Google Plus is Google's social media network. It first launched in 2011, but became more widespread in 2012. Sure, just like any other social media platform, you can follow various topics, keep up on celebrity gossip, and post a picture of your dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. What truly makes Google Plus of great value to an educator is the option to communicate and collaborate through Google Plus Communities. 

Communities

Within Google Plus, users can create or join various communities on about any topic you like. In these communities, individuals share resources and their expertise through images, links to websites/articles, and text. All of these items can be categorized by preset categories made by the creator/moderator of the community. This makes it much easier for users to find  items as the community is searchable and sortable. Users can also comment on one another's posts so that any questions or thoughts can be addressed. 

Communities deliver a great opportunity for educators to share with their colleagues or even with other teachers throughout the world. Teachers can help each other as they find great digital tools or lesson ideas by posting these items in a community. Students can even use it for collaborative projects. Resources, images, and thoughts can be contained and organized all within Google Plus.

Want to Start a Community?

If you want to create your own, I would recommend reaching out to some individuals with which you want to collaborate. Discuss some of the categories and topics you want to post/discuss in your community. Getting traction going in your community may prove difficult if you don't have an initial buy-in. Also, decide if you want to restrict the community to users that are invited or make it open for anyone to join. All of those options are available in the settings when you first create your community. Here is how to get started.



Participation

There are a number of ways to participate in a community. You can post images, links to websites/articles, or leave posts in text format. Users can then comment on your items and you have the ability to reply back to those specific issues. One item I would like to see Google add is the ability to add Google Drive items to Google Plus. At this point, the only way to do so is to provide a sharable link. The process to share documents works, but eliminating that extra step would be nice. 


Google Plus Chrome Extension

The previous video demonstrated all the different ways you can post items directly on Google Plus. If you want a faster way to post, try the Chrome extension. There are quite a few different choices of Chrome extensions from which to choose as many are third-party extensions. I tend to trust items created by well known companies. Therefore, I suggest sticking with the Google +1 Button because it is made by Google. 

Try It!

Try testing out communities by creating one. You can set it as private and test out different categories and posts you may want to include. Jumping in and testing it out is the first step to brainstorming all the possibilities a Google Plus Community holds for you.