Google+ Community: A perfect fit for education workers?
Google launched the newest feature of his own social network nearly a week ago and hundreds of google+ communities appeared in the first few days. I am pretty sure that the majority of these communities will disappear in a few weeks because lots of them are already redundant and nobody needs five communities for the same topic. To be honest I don’t even think that communities are useful for all topics. Discussions about mainstream topics maybe in fact better located in the google+ stream. But for relatively small niche topics communities are a perfect fit. One of this topics is – in my view – education.
Social Media are number one
How can I claim that such an important and urgent topic like education belongs to a niche? Well, because in social networks the number one topic is – drumroll please – social media. In germany we have saying: “The internet loves to talk about the internet.” Topics like education aren’t popular, at least compared to social media. But google+ communities are the perfect platform for discussions and exchange of ideas for teachers, professors and students.
Hangouts, deep integration with google calendar, gmail, youtube and google drive are only a few of many useful features. But one problem remains, at least in germany: Google+ has only a few users compared to facebook. Googles networks hasn’t picked a pace yet and german education workers aren’t quite the tech savvy kind and have slowly – and unwillingly – adapted facebook and the use of facebook groups. A lot of them have never heard of google+ and even if they did, they wouldn’t have any intention to try it.
There are still some shortcomings
I know from my english speaking friends that the situation in the USA looks significantly different. English teachers and students are already using google+ communities for discussions and learning groups, even if facebook its still bigger and more popular. In fact there are still a few points that are holding them back to use google+ communities to the maximum. These shortcomings are:
- communities can’t be used on smartphones and tablets
- google drive integration leaves still a lo to be desired
- no API aka no third party clients for google+
I’m pretty sure google will fix the first two problems sooner or later with updates. The third point will never change, at least in my opinion. Why? Because google wants to control its social network and is unwilling to open it to everybody. Yes, we will see some partners developing applications for google+, but I don’t think there will ever be an open API. And by the way, I think that’s the right strategy. This way google+ stays clean and much more civilized than facbook. I really love that.
So, what do you think, are google+ communities a good discussion platform for teachers and students? Are facebook groups still superior? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to read your opinion.