Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Some Google + findings

So, I have now narrowed down my search for the social network I want to use with students and Google + has made the grade.

All of my students are able to have a profile, although not all of them have done so yet. Some are not bothered about it one way or the other which is fair enough. About 98% of my year 10 students have activated their account, 100% of my y12 biology class, and about 85% of my y11 science class.

There are several students who could be said to have mastered the use of G+, but today I decided to have a look through the posts that my classes had made so far, and discovered a few interesting things about their posting.

1. A lot of them have never bothered to check who they are adding as friends.
2. They do not seem to have created circles to put specific people into.
3. They share stuff very widely, without looking who they are sharing with!
4. Several students are quite happy to post publicly  rather than in our closed community (this is a good  point!)
5. They have not learned to comment appropriately / +1 / share their work effectively yet.

This leads me to some conclusions, specifically things that I might have to change next year:

1. I need to give explicit instructions to all classes about creating the account, and how to use it from the start of the year (as I was still refining my ideas for the start of 2013, we missed this out). This will include compulsory joining of the communities! I will also show them how to check their notifications and how to use G+ effectively.
2. Sharing will be something I give far more instruction on!
3. We will still have closed communities for each class, but I will still encourage students to post publicly their work AND to comment on each other's posts in a polite manner, like they are used to doing with blogs. (Many of these students have come form schools where they were blogging, and don't seem to continue with this practice once they get to us. Something additional to think about?)
4. Google + is still a good way to have learning conversations with my students!

I like Google +. I have been using it right from the very start, and I think once students really get into it, they can use it as another communicational tool that could be useful.

I would find it interesting to hear from other educators who have started using Google + with classes; other people's experiences are useful ways to learn of course, and part of the reason I am doing this is to enhance my ability to discuss learning with my students, especially outside of the classroom.