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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Profs consider Google Plus as teaching tool

The faster students integrate Google Plus into their personal lives, the quicker teachers can implement it in the classroom.

Google’s nearly two-month-old social networking site combines older services such as Gmail, Google Docs and YouTube into a single platform, while also introducing new tools and features. Circles allow users to organize contacts into different sharing groups, hangouts admit up to 10 for a video chat and huddle equips users’ mobile devices to communicate via instant messaging within circles.

Michael McKisson, an adjunct instructor in the School of Journalism, said he is considering incorporating Google Plus into his entrepreneurial journalism class next spring.

McKisson said he might assign a research topic, have students share their findings within circles and then discuss them.

“Students don’t just want to sit there and listen to a lecture, they want to engage,” he said. “Anytime a new type of technology comes out, people in the field of education are going to try and figure out a way to use it to benefit the students.”

Joy Healam, a psychology sophomore, said she had heard about Google Plus, but has not used it. She said she prefers classes that incorporate new tools and technology and would welcome a teacher’s decision to use Google Plus.

Even though Google Plus reached the 10 million user benchmark faster than both Facebook and Twitter, McKisson said he is still concerned about student familiarity with the relatively new product and is hesitant to unveil Google Plus in the classroom until that changes.

Terry Wimmer, a professor of practice in the School of Journalism who is also considering using Google Plus in class, said he shared McKisson’s concerns. Wimmer said his students already use Google products and it would be a natural progression for them to use Google Plus. It would be an essential communication tool for students to use with him and each other.

Desire2Learn, or D2L, is one of the UA’s course management systems that new students can struggle with initially because of their lack of experience with it. Wimmer said he would like to use elements of Google Plus in addition to D2L to smooth the transition.

“It speeds up educational achievement in the classroom,” he said.
Johnny Tran, a pre-business freshman, said D2L is a little confusing for him and he thinks using Google Plus in class would help.

“The campus is evolving and you see bright ideas everywhere,” he said. “Google Plus in classrooms sounds like it’s one of them.”

Both Wimmer and McKisson said they expect more teachers on campus to at least experiment with the site. With more online sharing, Google Plus may also lead to less printing for students and teachers.

“Less papers, hmm … that would be nice,” Wimmer added.

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