Google+

It hasn’t been out a week yet, but a lot has been written (both for and against) this new tool.

I dabbled in MySpace, but didn’t like the look, use, or ease of it and abandoned it quickly. It seems like many did the same.

Facebook caught on, but how do I keep track of close friends, acquaintances, people I want to remain in contact with, family members, parents of students I teach, and colleagues. Even after setting rules for myself, I find it hard to work with all the privacy settings to arrange the various circles, many of which overlap. Because of this, I rarely post too much. No one outside my network of teacher friends really wants to hear what I think about education. Some of my family members probably couldn’t care less what political news story I was posting (they all live in Canada anyway). And if I used Facebook to disseminate information about school life to parents, would anyone else care?

Enter twitter. Like my blog, once I decided how I was going to use it – to grow my PLN (Personal Learning Network), the tool made immediate sense, and I’ve learned a lot from it. Also if I want later, I can set up a personal twitter account just for friends. Unfortunately, many don’t see the uses of twitter. I’m a newbie, and I’m making mistakes left, right, and center, but it I’m learning, and it’s been a great tool. Yes, 140 characters or less has its limits, but most tweets are also accompanied by an article or blog post which are more in depth. I can’t fathom to think that people are deciding on possible presidential candidates over a twitter debate. Twitter, as I learned through this conference is also a great tool to connect students to the world. An example given at the recent conference was of a teacher who followed the uprising in Egypt earlier this year (there are tools to translate Arabic tweets to English), ¬†and he started to read tweets by someone right in the midst of all the action. He was able to contact her and get her to agree to Skype to his classroom the next day. His students asked all the questions (they were not told what to say), and they got a local point of view of a breaking story. It made me think of how this could apply to lower elementary and having authors, grandparents from far away, etc. use Skype and have my students interview them.

Through my twitter network, I came across two interesting articles on the new service Google+. One from the Washington Post mentioned that (like my Facebook dilemma) google+ gave people a chance to start over. Read, Write, Web, has a great article outlining the pros and cons as well. With twitter, I was late to the game, but have begun to see its huge potential as well as its pitfalls (mostly potential). We’ll have to see with google+.

Different Circles of Networks can be Tricky

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