How To Use Google Plus In The Classroom

June 11, 2013  17 Comments

In this Podcast, Mike catches up with Lee Webster to discuss how you can use Google plus with your students

To download this episode in iTunes CLICK HERE

How to use Google plus in the classroom

USEFUL LINKS:

Lee’s Google Plus Profile

Lee’s Twitter profile

Google In Education Community

Mike’s Google Plus Profile

TRANSCRIPT OF PODCAST ON HOW TO USE GOOGLE PLUS WITH YOUR STUDENTS

Mike:

Hi, you’re with Mike Reading from GoogleAppforEdu.com, just here at the Brisbane Edutech Summit speaking at the Google stand and today I’ve got with me, Lee Webster.

Lee is a bit of a Google plus fan and runs one of the Education Google plus communities. So, Lee tell me a little bit about you, where you work and the school you’re at.

Lee:

Ok, I work at Harrow International School. It goes from kindergarten to year 13. We do 8 levels and the school is being there at the new site for about 10 years. We’ve got about 1 600 students.

Mike:

Wow, that’s huge. And so what’s your role there in the school?

Lee:

I’m a History teacher, an English teacher and ICT. I’m a bit of a juggler.

Mike:

Sounds like you don’t get to sleep. So, Lee we were just talking before and in between sessions here at Edutech about how you’ve moved over from Twitter to Google plus. I guess that’s something I’m really interested in. Why would a teacher wanna be involved in Google plus. Is it just another place, another tool, another thing to use? What do you see the power of it?

Lee:

I think the power of this especially the introduction of communities within Google plus is that I can guarantee that if you put a tech problem in there or any problem really, within that community topic, someone’s going to give you an answer if not instantly at least within two days to sort out your problem.

Mike:

Fantastic. So if I’m a new teacher and just new to Google plus, maybe don’t new teachers in how long I’ve been teaching but I’m new to Google plus, what’s the one tip you can give me about how to organize, how to get started. What’s the process to get going. So, I’m not getting a whole lot of information thrown at me all the time but I’m able to filter down to what I really need. Have you got any tips that might help out some teachers there.

Lee:

I think the first thing that you should do is, they call it the blue bottle; make sure that you’ve got an avatar or you’ve got a photo of yourself. Personally, if someone sends me something or someone put a post up and they haven’t got pictures, I don’t identify with that person. So, that’s the first thing I do. Next one I do is make sure you organize your circles because when you start joining people, that affects how you post because when you post you compose personally to somebody or you can post to circles or you can post to the communities. So, make sure you got your circles sorted.

After that, then I would start looking at communities, joining some communities. It doesn’t matter if you join a community, later you can also get out of that community. You’ll find places that people will help you. It’s not just about Google. As well, there’s many many other communities out there and the growth within.  I started my community only 5 months ago and it’s got over 7000 users already. But that would take me ages in twitter to get there.

Mike:

Now, I’ve got one question for you about using Google plus in the classroom. Do you use it with your students at all to collaborate or share ideas and resources?

Lee:

At the moment, we’ve got pilot group going on. They have to be over 13 years old. I’ve discussed this with Google and it’s just something that it’s the law at the moment. I think it would be really really useful if it was the whole of the school I work at. But at the moment, we’re just working with the pilot group.

First we tried it with teachers and now we’re trying it with one pilot group. And at the moment, I think because it’s instant, especially if you’re going on trips or looking at learning, taking photographs in the classroom. You can put stuff up there from Google docs, presentation, Youtube video. So any topic you’re doing within class, you can just put straight on there and other children can make comments, you can make comments. It’s just much easier. I like Google sites it’s just instant and there’s no bother with it. It works on all mobile devices.

Mike:

So, if you’re Google Apps for Education school then you’ve  got Google Apps installed in your school domain, you need your administrator to go in and turn Google plus on first. Or is it on as a default?

Lee:

No, you needed to go and turn it on. There’s some other options in there as well. You know that you can put on whether just post within your school community not outside. I would do that first I think.

When you make communities as well for the school, I’d make them private communities first so I know when I compose on there. This also makes other people higher up in the school more relaxed, about what you’re trying to do.

Mike:

So, if you go into the Google apps for administrator dashboard, turn on Google plus, you can actually have one of the settings say that Google plus will only work within your school domain. So if anyone from outside your school domain doesn’t have a school username and password tries to join the community, they will just get banned from that community. Is that right?

Lee:

Yeah.  When you set up the community, there’s 2 options when you do private. They can ask to join or you can only do it by invite only. And when you first start, I would just do it by invite only. So, they can’t even search for that community. So when you set up the community, my advise is to just put it on No Search so not even anybody can search. it’s just within your class group  and they have to be invited. So, it’s not even going to show up when you do a search in Google plus.

Mike:

Wow, so if I’m a Science teacher for instance, I can set up a community for my year 9 science class. I can have it setup so it’s not searchable by the public and I have to invite the students to it.  So now they’re able to post comments, ask questions, share links and resources for assignments and work that they’re doing. And that will only be seen by the students inside that class or anyone else I give permission. Is that right?

Lee:

That’s correct. Yeah. And I think that’s the way I would set it up. And people set it up in different ways but that just brings it much more secure and private between you and that class. And anybody else who gets invited within the school.

Mike:

Wow, that’s brilliant. That’s something I could see as a teacher would be a real help. Because it’s secure and private and encourages collaboration and sharing of ideas. And I could see how I could even build that into my marking criteria where I could expect the  students to read comments,  leave criticism in a constructive way. And to be able to connect with one other. I could build that into my marking criteria in terms of how they work.

I guess I could even see how you could use that in workflow so you could see how often the students are engaging whether they’re just engaging on one big hit at the end. That’s a really great tip. Tell me maybe, what’s a couple of the communities you would suggest as that Google- using teachers might wanna check out.

Lee:

There’s  2 major communities. There’s Google Apps for Education and Google Apps in Education. They’re both quite similar. The Google Apps for Education is mainly like tech problems. Google in Education, what they do is they put post up mainly on the new things coming up in Google Apps. They also sort out problems too.

Mike:

Alright, so which is the community that you moderate?

Lee:

The one that I moderate is In Education. It’s with also Alison, who’s a Google Trainer in America. And sometimes we hang out together. I met her in Google plus and she was such a big user of Google plus and put some great stuff on it that I made her one of the other moderators as well.

Mike:

Alright, fantastic. So, it sounds like there’s a place that teachers might want to check out. Lee, if they want to find out more about you or more about your communities, is there a one place they can go to find out more information and we can drop a link into the show notes for this episode?

Lee:

+Lee Webster, you can find me on Google Apps In Education community. I also still use twitter which is @cleave2001

I don’t do so much twitter as I used to. The reason why, is that I think it’s hard to sift through the information and filter it. There’s a lot going on twitter but if you join a community, it’s just about that topic, so it’s much easier to find things.

Mike:

Well, thanks Lee. I really appreciate your time and it’s been great to meet you finally in person.

If anyone else would like some information about any of the communities that Lee is running or you’d like to learn more about how you can use Google plus with your students in the classroom, then simply head over to GoogleAppsforEdu.com/episode5 and there you’ll find all the show notes, all the links that you need. And while you’re over there, feel free to drop us a comment in the comment section. We can continue the discussion on over there. And I’m sure Lee would be more than happy to drop in and answer any questions that you’ve all got.

So, thanks listener, I appreciate you tuning in and  we will see you in Episode #6 where we’re going to catch up with Tim Wicks and talk about Minecraft in Education.

Bye.

USEFUL LINKS:

Lee’s Google Plus Profile

Lee’s Twitter profile

Google In Education Community

Mike’s Google Plus Profile

Mike

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