Introducing Google+ into University Faculty

After having spend some time on a national TV show the other night explaining Google+ and how we use it for our faculty I thought it might be a good idea to write it down and share it as an example. I am well aware of the fact that this is only one of many ways of how to use google+ and I do not say this is the best way, but it is a way that works well for us.

Why Google+

One question I had to answer numerous times on tv last night was ‘why not just facebook?’. Well the better question might be “why google+?” Google Plus is not a copy or clone of facebook, it is different. It is, of course, possible to replace one with the other – just like you could replace your regular pizza place with a steak place – it’s both food in the end.

But would you do that? Or wouldn’t you rather add different dishes to your weekly menu? Yeah, right. And just as it would make sense to have different dishes it makes sense to use different social networks as long as they really are different. What makes google+ different you ask? Valid point. Let’s have a look:

Video ‘Hangouts’

The hangout feature, one of the coolest things with google+. It allows you to have one-to-many video chats and conversations. While facebook, even after teaming up with skype, only offers one-on-one chats. Furthermore Hangouts also can be done ‘On Air‘ – meaning live! You can stream your conversations live to the web and let others watch and participate in real time.

Furthermore interesting regarding hangouts: They are recorded and then can be shared via youtube and further social media profiles. Besides that it is also possible to have hangouts from official (faculty, business) profiles with users unlike facebook where chats from fan pages are not possible.

RIC hangout

RIC hangout

Google+ Events

Similar to facebook events of course in terms of ‘you can create an event and invite people’ – however the layout and the handling is much nicer. Also nice: The ‘party mode’ added to events. This mode allows you to share pictures instantly with other subscribers of the same event.

Further nice features are that you can use almost all actions for an official page that you would use as a ‘normal’ user. Sharing pictures, adding people to circles, finding local places near your place (great to network), explore current stuff, share it on your profile, etc. The usability simply makes sense – in my opinion.

Now after striking a blow for google+, let’s see how we actually use it for our faculty or classes.

Google+ for Faculty

Weekly Hangout: Right now we are airing a weekly google hangout. In our hangout we gather students of different majors and let them discuss current issues and topics of general interest. Our hangouts are hosted by one Ajarn (lecturer) who acts like a moderator. The focus however is on our students and their different opinions. Important to notice is that students from different majors like Computer, Politics, Social Sciences & Business meet up to discuss topics they do not necessarily handle in class. This brings fresh and different views to the table and shows how diverse our students are.

Faculty Tour: Since I work for the international college we, of course, also focus on international students or students from abroad in general. Since those students are usually not able to visit our facilities before deciding to sign up with our faculty we quite often show them around via google+. We could give 1 on 1 tours via facebook as well of course (once again, I’d need to use my private account for that though) or skype but doing it via Google+ allows more people to join and to comment and maybe even discuss things they see while we show them around. Tours are usually always better when more than one people are involved, right?

Google+ in class

A good way – in my case – to implement google+ into classes is to use it not only for assignments (also, but not only) but also for external ‘lecturers’ (professionals giving insights) or live discussions on air with experts from different areas. To name a quick real life example: I use google+ to set up a SEO panel for my Search Engine class. Experts from around the world talk about their experiences on air while students listen and interact immediately.

Using it as interactive tool for assignments is, obviously, also a nice idea. Do you have any examples of how you do it already? Would love to hear it. If not, stay tuned for the upcoming hands on posts!

But for now, let’s see what you’ve got! +1

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