The latest and greatest social network appears to be Google+. If you aren’t familiar with Google+ the short story is that it’s Google’s latest attempt to get into the social networking game (in other words, it’s Google’s answer to Facebook). If you aren’t familiar with Google+, this post will fill you in on the details.
I’d like to take a look at Google+ from the potential in the English language learning field – no surprise there. Looking at it from this point of view, there are some things I really like and have great potential in my opinion. Of course, I don’t think it can touch dedicated English language learning social networks, more specifically my favorite EnglishCafe (full disclosure: I consult for GlobalEnglish working on EnglishCafe).
Yes, it’s yet another social network that requires attention, but I think there are some key differences. Actually, one key difference: Circles. Circles allow you to put people you follow into different groups so it’s much easier to keep track of specific groups based on your interests.
When I want to check out what English teaching colleagues are saying, I click on that circle in my profile which shows me only the conversations going on amongst those colleagues I follow for this circle. If I want to see what my colleagues at About.com are up to, I click on that circle and so on. Google+ users can create their own circles, and that’s where the potential really lies for language learning.
Teachers could create a circle for their class and keeping track of the online discussion is easy. There’s no need to fish through all your friends on Facebook (yes, I know you can create groups on Facebook, but this is much more intuitive). This ability to track specific learning groups in circles can easily lead to classes or English learning groups being created by innovative teachers for more engaging conversations occurring within these smaller groups.
Up till now, Google+ has been used mostly by geeks, but it looks like there is quite a lot of uptake. I’d like to invite you to follow me on Google+. Once you have a Google+ account, you can add me by searching on my name “Kenneth Beare”. You’ll see the following pop up:
The biggest problem is that there are so many social media groups / feeds / etc. / etc. to follow that it’s becoming rather unwieldy. Who has that amount of time? Still, the innovation of circles holds a lot of promise to English language learning groups who want to use one of the major social networking sites without going to a more specialized English language learning social network such as EnglishCafe or English, Baby!