Sunday, May 5, 2013

Using G+ in our School Community

Working in Region 6 is amazing. Even as the year is winding down, educators in our district are excitedly connecting and learning through  G+. Using G+ has made it easier for us to communicate and share what we are doing on a daily basis. Everyday more faculty members are discovering the power and benefits of G+. There are several features of G+ that our educators are utilizing as we learn and grow together as professionals here in Region 6.

Circles - In G+ connect to people and organize them into "circles"  When you create a message, or want to share a link, video, or invitation, you choose what circle that will receive your post. By creating a district circle (RSD6) I can send a message to everyone in the district. Everyday more of our staff is connecting to G+ which is making it easier (and more fun) to share what we are doing.

Communities-  The communities available on G+ are diverse and responsive to members. I've joined several communities  including  EdCamp,  G+ Discussion (members answer questions within seconds!) and Discovery Educators. It's also very easy to set up your own community to share information with a specific group of people. Last week 2 communities were created in RSD6 for professional development (Connecticut School Administrators) and committee work (RSD6 Website Committee). Through G+ our committee has already started a productive conversation about our websites before our first official meeting.

Photos:  Picasa is an integrated feature in G+. Upload your photos to Picasa from your phone or device and they are instantly available to share with others on G+. Choose "share via a link" and you can tweet your albums. In RSD6, we've used this feature to share events at our schools, field trips and professional development events (like EdCampRSD6!)

Hangouts - Having a G+ account makes it easy to start a video chat. Unlike Skype, there are no downloads. Right from your G+ homepage, you can click "Start a hangout" and choose people from your circles to chat with. You can also host a live chat, which participants can see from their G+ account or Youtube.  Your chat is automatically recorded on Youtube (when you choose this option) and you can share it with people later. You can also schedule a Hangout and invite people in your circles to attend. Hangouts are a great way to connect with educators and experience professional development for free. We've used Hangouts for edtech meetings and to record presentations for further review. We've also tested out the feature to make all-school announcements. It's exciting to investigate the many ways we can use this tool to connect to others.

In RSD6 we are enjoying the benefits of utilizing G+ in our schools to communicate to each other throughout the day and connect to educators from around the world.  Each day our staff finds new ways to use G+ resources and build their professional learning networks. Stay tuned for the newest G+ tutorial videos which are coming soon to our Educational Technology site

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