Google Plus is Gangster

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It’s “crunch time.” My IB History class will be taking their final exams in early May. There is still a lot of material to plow through. Mercifully, google plus offers an amazing platform to ease our anxieties. Full disclosure: I’m new to google plus, so if you’ve long been doing the stuff I’m about to wax madly over, please be sympathetic. First of all there are “circles,” where you can create a private chat room called a “hang-out,” where you can all see each other and speak in real-time. This secured option is ideal for a teacher working with groups of students, who would rather not expose our feisty historiographical debates to the public. A further benefit of google plus is that it allows you to upload google documents while chatting, so you and your class can collaboratively create and edit a document during the chat. Next, google plus allows you to upload a Youtube video, for the chat “circle” to  view. This morning I’d planned on our circle watching a clip from Yale, a lecture by historian John Merriman on the meaning of Stalinism. We got swept up in other conversations but the potential for a “flipped classroom” seems limitless. You can also give assignments. For instance this morning our circle met for 20 minutes to review what was discussed yesterday. Waiting for my students (only one was willing to sacrifice a Friday morning to discuss Collectivization, I ruefully confess) upon arrival was a google document, with a review question waiting to be answered. The student worked on the response while I milled around in the kitchen. After 10 minutes or so I re-entered the “hang out” room, and we discussed the question and response. A formidable, engaging, real-time review..

A final rehashing of my new favorite outside-of-school collaborative application: google plus allows you to create a secure face to face chat “circle” that can watch educational videos in real time together, and collaboratively create and edit a google document based on the knowledge accrued. If you are a teacher familiar with collaborative potentials of google docs, and the abundant wisdom stored in Youtube, you must agree, google plus is Gangster Indeed!!

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