Since its inception, tech experts have raved about Google+, the social media platform that some predict has the goods to take down leading social networking site Facebook. Although Facebook still reigns supreme and Google+ is still in the midst of growing momentum, the rookie social media site is still a strong contender in changing the way users interact with one another — especially when it comes to the world of education. To learn why Google+ is the better social media platform to help engage educators with their students of all ages, continue reading below.
1. Fewer Privacy Issues
While some instructors decide to “friend” students on Facebook so that they can more easily share class updates as well as give assignment deadline reminders and provide supplemental educational materials like news links and videos, the truth is that the privacy lines are too blurry on Facebook—you want your students to see some of your statues that pertain to school assignments but not the ones that deal with your personal life. The sentiments are vice versa with your students. It’s just uncomfortable getting a deeper look into a student’s or teacher’s “outside” life. While some instructors choose to create separate accounts in order to resolve this issue — one for personal use and one for professional use — it’s just too much work. Google+ however allows users to separate people into “circles.” These circles easily allow users to choose what can and cannot be seen among people. So for example, teachers can put all of their students in the circle appropriately labeled “students” or “Geography 1:00 p.m.” for example, and you don’t have to worry about cross contaminating info or letting inappropriate material seep through.
2. No Age Restrictions
Currently, Facebook has an age limit restriction—only those who are 13 years or older can apply for an account. While the age restriction is understandable (too many child predators lurk cyberspace) because there is no age limitation on Google+ even those who teach elementary can use the social media site to enhance their student’s education—it’s just important that educators instruct their students from adding strangers.
3. No Limitations
While Twitter can also be a very engaging social media site to utilize, the problem is that users are limited to their character use—even in direct messages, users have to send multiple messages if they go over 140 characters. This can become quite troublesome if a student asks an instructor to explain a problem in greater detail for example. However, with Google+, there is no such limitation and both students and teachers can ask questions, give responses and leave comments without having to shortchange themselves. This option is also ideal for introverted students—those who may be too shy to ask additional questions in the classroom but need help once they’re at home doing assignments on their own.
4. Provides Archived Material
Google+ also trumps Twitter because old information is easy to retrieve and access again. Unless a student or teacher “favorites” a tweet, it can be hard to go back and look for a tweet that was posted two weeks ago since it gets buried underneath the myriad of other tweets on the timeline. Google+ is organized and is easy to bring up again since everything is marked by dates.
5. Provides Opportunity for Remote Parent-Teacher Conferences
Last but not least, sometimes parents who have late night meetings can’t leave their desks to attend their child’s open house. Sometimes parents without transportation can’t make it to a much-needed parent-teacher conference. Sometimes students who are taking online classes don’t have the time to drive to a brick-and-mortar campus that may be hundreds of miles away to have a conference with their teacher or professor. Google + ’s neat “hangout” feature, however, paves the way for group video chat capabilities so that important “meetings” and “conferences” are more convenient and can take place over the internet instead of in person.
Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education where she writes about education, online colleges, online degrees etc. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.