Is Google+ For Educators?

beach laptopMaybe you have been exploring Google+ this summer and thinking about whether or not it has any applications for your classes.

Google+ is built to take you away from either Facebook or Twitter (or both), and it could do it, in time.

The live video chat feature is something that could be used for collaboration and you could create "Hangouts" for conferencing with students and "Circles" for classes or groups within a class.

If your school already uses Google Apps, there will be more and more ways to connect all these pieces.

Steven W. Anderson who does the blog at http://web20classroom.blogspot.com  has put together a LivBinder collection of links to resources on Understanding And Using Google+ In The Classroom And Beyond. (If you have never encountered LiveBinder, that's something you may want to explore also.)

If Google+ does eliminate the need for other services it might start with you NOT writing a blog post, emailing it or tweeting a link to it but simply using G+ to write it and then deciding how to share it. Make it "Public" and it's a blog post to the G+ world, direct it at a Circle (or Circles) and it's like a tweet.

Aim it at your class Circle and it's a post with a discussion below it. Direct it to one friend and it's email.

If you aren't using any social media tools already you may want to a) jump in now with G+ and have all the tools  b) continue to stay anti-social.  If you are already using the other tools for classes, I would think you'd want to start experimenting with G+ and compare the experience.



Guidelines for e-readers

The U.S. Department of Education has released a new guide to laws and rules colleges must follow to ensure e-reading devices and other emerging technologies are accessible to all students.

It focuses on students with vision problems, a group whose access issues have triggered official complaints against colleges. If colleges use e-readers, or other emerging technologies, blind students “must be afforded the opportunity to acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same services as sighted students,” according to the department.

The department doesn’t discourage the use of emerging technologies but indicates that colleges should assess whether a new technology is accessible, or could be modified to be accessible, before using it.

The document, in the form of “Frequently Asked Questions,” was published in response to the department’s “Dear Colleague” letter to college presidents on the subject last June.

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Blackboard Gets Bought for $1.64 Billion

According to Bloomberg, Providence Equity Partners Inc. has agreed to buy Blackboard Inc. for $1.64 billion.

The purchase will expand their for-profit education portfolio that includes college operator Education Management Corp. and English language specialist Study Group Pty Ltd.

The company was looking to move into online education, mobile access to learning, and also Blackboard's portal tools that allow schools to communicate to their students.

Providence, founded in 1989, focuses on media, communications, information and education investments, according to its website.

Scott Berg, an analyst with Feltl & Co., says in the Bloomberg article that Blackboard is a smart strategic fit for Providence because its education tools are “essentially required” for universities. Elluminate Inc. and Wimba Inc., virtual classroom companies bought by Blackboard last year, will be strong revenue generators for Providence as online education becomes more commonplace, Berg said.

DOE Guidelines for e-readers

The U.S. Department of Education has released a new guide to laws and rules colleges must follow to ensure e-reading devices and other emerging technologies are accessible to all students.

It focuses on students with vision problems, a group whose access issues have triggered official complaints against colleges. If colleges use e-readers, or other emerging technologies, blind students “must be afforded the opportunity to acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same services as sighted students,” according to the department.

The department doesn’t discourage the use of emerging technologies but indicates that colleges should assess whether a new technology is
accessible, or could be modified to be accessible, before using it.

The document, in the form of “Frequently Asked Questions,” was published in response to the department’s “Dear Colleague” letter to college presidents on the subject last June.

more