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MERLOT II


    

Peer Review


Google+ App for iOS

by
 

Ratings

Overall Rating:

4.75 stars
Content Quality:
Effectiveness: 4.5 stars
Ease of Use: 4.75 stars
Reviewed: Mar 31, 2013 by Teacher Education
Overview: Google+ for iPad is an app that connects with Google’s social network providing common tasks for the iPad. Google+ enables the iPad user to manage their Google+ profile, interact with those in their circles, create events, view and manage Google photo albums, and participate in communities. Google+ is similar to Facebook, in that it can be used by teachers and students to share websites, videos, reflections, etc. with others. An advantage it has over Facebook is the ability to create "Circles" which are groups of people with similar characteristics or interests. For example, a teacher could put students from a specific class in a Circle and also put all math majors in that class or other classes in a Circle. This allows the teacher to share content with a specific audience rather than all "Friends." Google+ is a free app. (March 2013)
Learning Goals: The learner will develop skills to interact digitally with others and content on Google's social network, Google+. Since Google+ is a social networking tool, the learning goals will be determined by the user.
Target Student Population: Users of Google+ must be at least 13 year-old. It may be most appropriate for high school and above.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Teachers and students should have a basic understanding of social networking tools. They should understand digital citizenship issues such as privacy, netiquette, and digital identity.
Type of Material: Google+ is a social networking tool that can be used by teachers and students to communicate about education topics.
Recommended Uses: Google+ can be used in place of an asynchronous discussion forum in an online course when the goal is for students to share and comment on each other's web resources. Google+ may be a great tool for professional learning communities to use for member sharing. Educators could create a classroom community for homework discussion and sharing.
Technical Requirements: The app being reviewed is for iPads, however, Google+ also works on other iOS devices, as well as Macs, PCs, and Android devices.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating:
Strengths: The content is determined by the teachers and students as they will be sharing resources.
Concerns: Students should go through information literacy training as part of this activity so they can learn how to select reliable content to share with others.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4.5 stars
Strengths: The strength of Google+ lies in its ability to support a constructivist learning environment. Teachers and students will be collaboratively constructing knowledge as they share and comment on one another's resources. • Efficient and quick communication and sharing of content to the world and to those in your circles. Google+ provides simple access to share photos, location, links, tags, and video (Hangout). This content can be created within the app itself or shared from the web or from the iPad itself (e.g. the camera roll). • The app provides access to search for communities of interest, join, and participate in conversations. • Adding people to your circle is simple and Google+ provides controls for managing how you share content. • Using the event feature allows people that are participating in the event to add their own photos to share across everyone. This is an exciting way to collect information. • The ability to control who can see a post is like choosing who to send an email to. It is simple and a pertinent setting for the educational use. • Google incorporates Picasa photos in the app and creates easy sharing and viewing of photos. Additionally, Google+ iPad app can upload your camera photos to a private album for sharing later (Instant Upload).
Concerns: Teachers will need to provide strong rubrics to help students understand the need for quality resources and concise reflections. • Unable to create a new community on the iPad. One must access Google+ through a web browser to create a new community. The community feature is probably the most important feature for using the app in an educational setting. • Creating an event on iPad is buggy. Once you get ready to input a date and time half of the date box disappears into the top left corner. I reported the bug to Google. • Unlike the web, there isn’t the ability to control future sharing of your post. There is no lock function which might be problematic.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4.75 stars
Strengths: Google+ on the iPad is easy to use. Reviewing content can be fast as you can see up to four posts on the screen at one time. The +1 feature allows you to quickly let a person know that their post was useful. Comments can be added quickly. It is easy to see when a post has a number of comments or +1's, which should indicate that it is a post to review. Unlike a discussion board, posts that share a URL look inviting because Google+ adds a preview of the website including an optional image. • The App is quick, responsive, and has an intuitive interface. • Action buttons are clearly labeled. On the bottom of the App there are buttons for sharing and the left pane provides access to different activities. • Access to change the circle feed is on the top in the center. This is helpful to quickly jump between the streams you want to follow. • Google’s two-step authentication is embedded and doesn’t require a unique password. • Granular control of push notifications is available.
Concerns: Earlier iPad versions did not automatically provide previews of websites being shared. This issue has been solved in the current version. Each new release seems to bring feature that make Google+ easier to use on an iPad. • Knowledge of the Google+ ecosystem in important • Unable to support multiple Google accounts (no fast-user switching). This may be an issue for those that have a personal and private Google+ or have multiple people using an iPad, such as in an educational setting.

Other Issues and Comments: • Google’s privacy policy should be understood when using the app to share content, including uploading photos to a private album. The app provides a quick web link in settings. One reviewer found the iPad version easier to use than the web version on the computer.