I know there have been a deluge of Google+ blog posts written in the past 3 weeks or so, but I'm going to hop on the bandwagon this morning and give a couple of my initial thoughts about its use as a professional and in the classroom.
- Google+ will let educators across the globe collaborate more easily. With their "Hangouts" feature and the selective publishing to different Circles of people you are associated with, I can easily connect in real time with someone across the country. I don't need third-party software (which, granted, is usually free, but I've seemed to have had more connection issues with those third-party downloads than Google Talk) and you don't need any special equipment. Plus, you can talk with up to 10 other people at the same time, a feature not available on most other programs. Educators should be chomping at the bit to get at this tool...I expect to see more impromptu "webinars" popping up, where people have more freedom to chat about the latest thing they're doing in their class or to talk about common problems with something.
- Since its Google, we know integration is coming. The one drawback, I believe right now, of Google+ is the lack of integration with other Google software from what I can find. Once GoogleDocs is integrated with the G+ service, I think there will be an explosion of collaboration and connections even more than there are now. I would love to be able to hop on to G+, start a Hangout, and then work on an article, lesson plan, project, etc. all through the same social platform.
- More people will move to Google+ as they think about online professional networking. Facebook is great, but it is becoming more and more childish every day with a focus on games, apps, and casual connections between people. Twitter is also great, but it is confusing at first, and the pace may be prohibitive for some people to really grab hold of. Google+, on the other hand, combines the power and strengths of both Facebook and Twitter and then adds some more on top of that. It is more professional looking and has more professional controls we all wish Facebook had. I see professional networks, especially in schools and businesses (once Google Apps accounts are enabled) flocking to G+ to serve their connectivity needs.
While I think Google+ is fantastic already and I'm itching to get more contacts, I do think we need to continue to scrutinize what we do digitally. Yes, Google+ is awesome, but I'm afraid administrators and district offices will see it only as a social network, and then it falls into that relegation zone of banned at school. Those of us that are currently using G+ need to step out and show the positive impact it has the potential to bring to schools. Show administrators, other teachers, and parents about the connections that will be fostered in a positive light with this new tool. Tell your friends and send them an invite to help work out the kinks of the system.
I'm excited about the possibilities and the changes that will be coming in the next couple of months.