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Online Learning Boosted By Google Plus

Too early to tell yet, but the intersection of cyber schools with the newest social media player may yield real benefits for students looking to have a rich experience while going to college. Google+ offers facets that have long been staples of undergrad life. Sharing with friends, following a favorite band, walking that awkward line running among different circles of friends, and of course, getting your coursework finished are all parts of both college life and GPlus’ strong suits. The implications of this juncture for online learning are extensive.

Consumer demand, active on both education and technology, has driven innovation at unprecedented speed. Mortar and brick colleges have, for at least a decade, recognized the need to offer online courses, while a whole industry of Internet-based schools has developed in response to both funding opportunities as well as a willing demographic of learners seeking the flexibility of taking their classes entirely through the use of technology. Coinciding with these developments has been the rise of social media which is well incorporated now with education activities at all levels. But with Google+, there is at least the possibility of most social media desires by students existing on a single platform.

Facebook, the undisputed leader in social networking sites, has plenty of account holders of college age, but its very dominance may prove a detriment through burnout and lack of newness, a problem the six-week old G+ doesn’t have. These two sites, often compared, have different approaches to sharing. Facebook users, at least for now, post for all their Friends to see. With Google’s product, contacts are known as People, hardly without a thought at FB’s overly familiar label for even mild acquaintances. Of Google+’s People, Circles exists which can be included, or more importantly, excluded from disseminated posts, the benefit being that you can separate what you share about the bachelor party from what you share about the wedding itself, something college students have needed for generations.

Currently, Google+ is trending with a crowd just slightly older than traditional college age students, but with many universities using Google educational services to provide everything from free e-mail to course platforms, the search engine giant’s latest and best introduction is poised to share with, though not replace, many of the functions older, if that term can accurately be applied to social media in 2011, networking sites now provide to online learners.

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