Categories: Social Network
Availability: Browser, Android, iOS
Uses: Facilitate Communication and Collaboration, Peer Learning
What is it?
Google+ (pronounced Google Plus) Communities offer an online space for groups of people to communicate and share media. It is part of Google’s suite of products so it integrates well with services like Gmail, Hangouts and Drive helping to enhance the communication and collaboration experience for its users. You can set up an online community in Google+, invite students or colleagues and create separate channels for particular topics.
How can I use it?
Google+ is currently being used by CIT’s online programmes as a social media community for online students and lecturers to interact, ask and answer questions and/ or concerns and get to know each other. This allows your students to voice their opinions and communicate with each other on class topics. Students can also use the Google+ community outside of class time to stay engaged in class topics long after they are first covered in class.
To get started:
- You will need to setup a gmail account (or use an existing one) to use the Google+ community. Access Google Plus by logging into your gmail then click on the Google Services icon on the right of your screen and click “Google +”.
- Currently in CIT, students have access to Google+ as their email accounts are Gmail.
- Create your Google + Profile by clicking on “Join Google +”. You can add information here about yourself, including a profile photo if you wish.
- Now that you are set up as a Google Plus member, go to https://plus.google.com/communities and click on “New Community” at the top right of the page.
- Give the community a name and choose its privacy setting (private is generally suitable for most class communities)
- Other settings can remain as they are by default, for instance, do not have the community visible by search and do not hold posts for review - you can change this if you want to moderate posts before they appear to everyone.
- You can give your community a description and add categories and links to separate discussion topics. To do this, click the menu icon (3 vertical dots) to the left of the interface and click “Edit Community”.
- When you have your community ready you can invite others to join. To do this, click the user icon at the left of the interface (next to the menu icon) and click “Invite people with a link”.
- You can then send this link to your students or colleagues allowing them to join the Community.
Why should I use it?
A big benefit of using Google+ Communities is the ability to control the privacy of these spaces and manage who can engage with its users. This helps to facilitate dedicated online spaces for class groups or subjects.
Additionally, it helps to reduce email by giving students another space to communicate with you and ask questions and, in many cases, get answers from their fellow students. As such, Google+ Communities also facilitate peer-to-peer discussions and encourage peer learning, allowing students to remain engaged in the class topics outside of class times.
Like other popular social media tools, Google+ Communities work well on mobile devices, encouraging brevity in the communications that can be written or received with a variety of computing devices, including mobile phones and tablets. Google+ Communities also act as a space to disseminate resources and additional information relevant to a class, making it instantly available to those to whom you share it. And it integrates well with other tools in the Google suite, allowing users to easily share files from Google Drive, have a video conversation on Google Hangouts and add deadlines to Google Calendar.
It can sometimes be difficult to encourage people to participate in online communities or discussion areas. We have some resources and tips that may help, including sample text and ice-breaker activities here and some general guidelines for use here.
Where can I find it?
Unless otherwise stated, all reviews and recommendations are solely those of the Department of Technology Enhanced Learning team and do not reflect the views or opinions of any organisation, including Cork Institute of Technology. The Department is not responsible for any inappropriate, offensive or illegal content viewed or accessed through the tools and products reviewed.