Monday, 5 September 2011

Google+: What does it add?

Having been on Google+ for a couple of months now, I decided it was time to take stock of what, if anything, it has added to my online personal learning network and professional development experience. I’ve never been a fan of Facebook (although it has an annoying habit of popping up and joining the dots in all aspects of my personal, social and professional life) and Twitter seems to have become a bit ‘routine’ (and more difficult to manage) after the initial PD explosion so I approached Google+ with an open mind ready to see what it could add. The short answer is… not much.

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About what my Google+ experience has amounted too - image by hgc

It all started out well…

At first, I was attracted by the idea of circles. Facebook had become a bit messy with a mix of family, friends and acquaintances (I know there are lists but I could never be bothered with setting them up) and my Twitter stream had become quite difficult to manage as the number of people I followed increased (and I again never got round to updating any lists. Google+’s circles seemed to offer an ideal situation - different circles for family, friends, colleagues etc. and even circles within those circles for people closer to me or people in different sectors of education.

However, that was just the ideal and it didn’t really work out that way. First of all, hardly any family or friends were using Google+ so there was nobody I could add to those circles. The people I connected to were just members of my PLN from Twitter. I then tried putting them into circles but it felt too much like labelling. ‘Should I put this person in EdTech or general ELT? Or both? Do I need to make a dogme circle?’ - these were all questions I started to ask myself until I decided just not to bother. One of the great things about connecting to educators through Twitter is that I’ve learned a lot from sharing and discussing with people from all walks of ELT and education. Break them down into separate groups and it feels as though something is lost….

And so, I ended up with just a couple of circles for ELT and Education. That was fine at first but then I started to get déja vu - I was seeing the same blog posts and website links appearing on Twitter, Facebook and then Google+ as well (with many of those also appearing in my RSS reader)! My own posts there were being +1’ed by the same people who were re-tweeting or pressing the ‘like’ button on Facebook. That’s why I gave up - Google+ may have a different look, a different feel and a different approach but it didn’t offer me anything different content-wise or contact-wise. Just like we say thinking ‘wow! That looks cool!’ or ‘this is new!’ isn’t enough when it comes to technology in the classroom, we also need to look a little deeper when it comes to our PLNs and social networking.

So, for now, Twitter (and I guess FB) are enough. Perhaps if (and it’s a big if) more people start to use Google+, then I could really make use of it as a way to bring all different aspects of my online life together while also keeping them apart. Until that happens, it will remain at +0.

10 comments:

  1. I feel the same... but will just wait and see.

    I have a feeling there's still more up google's sleeve (full g-app integration / improving hangout / sparks). Cheers, b

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  2. Oh man! I've just discovered Twitter and now Google+ as well - too much for a newbie like me :p

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  3. Good news Dave and Brad! I'm so pleased to hear because, as lazyteacher says above,as a newcomer to Twitter it's too much for me too. I'm only just getting to grips with Twitter and although I've signed up for Google+, I just don't have time to investigate that too - not right now anyway. I use Facebook for purely social purposes and am beginning to use Twitter to build a PLN ...

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  4. Same same here. I'll be honest. I have my gmail open all the time my 'puter's on, and I often have my Tweetdeck open, too. That's about it. Sometimes, I read my FB notifications which have been emailed to me, or sometimes, something catches the corner of my eye (FB is streamed on my Tdeck, but only part of it is visible, without scrolling). G+, I check even less. The hangout is possibly a cool feature, but if time is at a premium...?

    So, in a nutshell, Dave, I'm in total agreement with you!

    Chiew

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  5. Same, for me the killer was - before even joining - and hence I didn't - was that even though I wasn't on Google+, some people could spam me with their "news" in a way that I don't ever feel spammed when I go to HootSuite for Twitter (I do have my lists) nor on Facebook (I do have my lists)

    ...plus, I know I didn't really get it because for me lists are one thing but circles reminded me of being a kid in high-school and not getting chosen and if I didn't have enough time to make circles (busy, busy) then maybe someone would wind up feeling hurt and that gave me the heebbeeejeeebees, it's bad enough when I've not been on Twitter for a week/10 days at a go and have to wade through spam-followers vs real ELT folk...

    - AND if I'm on a list there or not on a list I don't notice or care - knowing that although I have these sometimes I don't remember to add folks to them or not... if that makes any sense.

    And while I'm rambling on, the thing I like most about Facebook is that I only accept friend requests from people I have had interactions with (real-life or professional)... and LI things that have something in common with me professionally... I honestly could never see the point in Google+ but am keeping an open mind - if everyone were to suddenly abandon those, then I guess I'd follow along too...

    Night,
    K

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  6. I have the same feelings as everyone here, pretty much. Circles are pointless when everyone is from ELT. I don't get the +1ing yet as it doesn't seem to do anything, especially when I +1 something off site.

    My idea was to use G+ as an extended Twitter, like a Facebook for professional uses. That hasn't panned out in any significantly different way than my use of Twitter. And frankly, I'd prefer dialogue to occur on my blog itself rather than the post's link on G+.

    In the end, I think it's like Brad said, a wait and see. I choose not to actively use it though until its use has become more evident organically.

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  7. So we all agree - time to put a cross over the circle ;)

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  8. Chuckle! Funnily enough, I've just started with Google+ as I wasn't in a position to experiment with it earlier, as you obviously did. I'll see how it goes, but I agree about most of your points so far! I wonder whether I'll end up making the same decision as you in the new year.

    cheers

    R

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  9. Hi Richard,

    Thanks for the comment. I gather there have been 'new features' added to Google+ since I stopped bothering with it so maybe you'll find something useful there. I haven't heard enough to tempt me back yet. With the DRC course and the dissertation looming, I barely have enough time for Twitter!

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  10. I think it's still early days with Google+. Do may people regularly use more than 2 social networks? I'm not sure what Google+ currently adds if you're already a facebook and twitter user.

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