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USING GOOGLE+ FOR INSTRUCTION

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Author(s): Kevin YEE | Jace HARGIS

Journal: The Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education
ISSN 1302-6488

Volume: 12;
Issue: 4;
Start page: 9;
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ABSTRACT
Introduced in July, 2011 in a beta test of invited users only, the new social media service Google+ (or G+) quickly spread by word of mouth, and Google leader Larry Page (2011) blogged that within sixteen days it had 10 million users. By August, it had 25 million users (Cashmore, 2011). Even with slower growth ahead (still with no marketing budget), the service looks likely to crest 100 million users perhaps as early as ten months, a feat that took Facebook three years. Other social networks, most notably Facebook and Twitter, have been used increasingly as instructional tools, since they are platforms with which students are already familiar (Maloney, 2007; McLoughlin & Lee, 2007). Selwyn (2009) found that students often eschew official channels for communication in favor of less formal community-based formats such as Facebook, implying a growing need for instructional communication tools that will be used willingly by students. The question is whether Google+ can be used like Twitter or Facebook to augment instruction, or even, perhaps, to improve upon those predecessors for academic purposes. Google+ is like Twitter in that anyone can follow a given user’s posts. There is no direct “friend” relationship required to read the posts written by others. However, it also approximates some features of Facebook. Rather than friends sorted into “lists” like in Facebook, Google+ allows users to place feeds into one or more “circles,” the better to monitor (or control) the flow of information to and from different audiences. Circles are more intuitive, and more central to the experience, than the Facebook lists. They provide an explicit organizational structure, compared to the less-obvious listing functionality, which feels like an afterthought, found in Facebook.
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