Nings, Twitter-ish sites, and Facebook fan pages for the robotics club. These are very useful but we are pushing the square peg in a round hole for our classrooms so our students can benefit the way we do from our PLN. These are not native nor are they seamless options for education. It is not that we are elitists who demand a social network of our own but rather we have a special clientele. We have to protect students and no matter how much we want to bring unlimited social media into the classroom we will always be conflicted with this balancing act. Not anymore if Google plays this correctly. What if we could provide all the collaboration and digital ability that we develop with social media to our students in a secured network? By no means to intend to make this blog a "Top 3" of everything. However, just as in my first post, I have three ideas that Google should leverage to make this go down.
Google Apps Integration
The obvious choice. Right now there is a Google Apps for EDU marketplace where Apps schools can choose third party vendors to integrate with Apps. Many of these are very useful but I wonder how many we would need if Apps and Plus came together in an single package. Editing Google Docs, updating Calendars, using Sites as a collaborative wiki tool - all to be shared with the community in Plus the same way our students are using Facebook. Sure we can do this in Gmail now but it is the fluidity and feel for the social networking platform that I am interested in. It has become our responsibility to teach students proper netiquette and web behavior. This is a life skill and a learning standard that we have to own. Making this literacy an inherent component of the learning process is something I have been hoping for.
Circles Within Apps for Edu Domains
Circles are beautiful. Then I start thinking of how they can become classes if they are protected within a districts domain. Even more, Circles can become our classes, our departments, our schools, and our entire district. This hierarchy is perfectly designed for education and the needs of a school. We can choose to share with all class sections, have a live meeting with only our teams, or share with the entire district. Furthermore, if we are given the ability for open sharing with other districts, we can build local and global PLCs in minutes.
Disable Student Private Messaging
There is one piece that is crucial and that is disabling the ability for students to private message each other. If the Apps integration is done correctly this would be simple setting for the student group in the control panel. In an era where cyber-bullying has become a difficult problem to solve, I prefer to take this opportunity off the table. Edmodo is a web-based LMS and microblogging platform that has mastered this concept by making all student posts publicly viewable by all members in the class. Also, teachers must be allowed to manage posts in their classes so that they can delete inappropriate posts if such an issue arises.
I see Google Plus poised to provide this opportunity that we have been hoping for. Please share your comments on what you think Google Plus can do to make this happen. I'm looking forward to hearing your ideas. Now it's your turn GPlus. CC: Google on that, too.