Disclaimer: Although I will be the first to admit that I have had problems adding Google+ to my share flow, I still believe that the platform could have dramatic implications for K-12 learning, both online and face-to-face. And, true, I have yet to use Google Hangouts productively, because, honestly, most of my Google friends don’t have plain Google accounts and spend their productive time in a Google Apps account.
My dreams have come true! Google rolled out some extraordinary news today: Google+ is now available in Google Apps! This amazing tool is finally available to Google’s most faithful, those that have adopted the Google infrastructure.
Upon reading this, I was ready to jump in right now. As the administrator of the Google Apps accounts at my institution, I started the process of adding the app to our install, believing that I could do online meetings with teachers in our organization right away!
That’s where things went horribly, horribly wrong. Google has a well-meaning page on “Considerations before enabling Google+,” which is a good checklist about what to consider when adopting the infrastructure. There are a lot of interesting bits here, including considerations of sharing and the need to adopt other, potentially problematic tools like Google Talk and Picasa image sharing. There was one other consideration that I was very unaware of: you have to be 18 to use Google+. From their age requirement page:
If I am reading this correctly, this means no Google+ K-12 and at least a somewhat complicated situation for higher education, especially those that are teaching distance dual credit courses to high school students.
In so many ways, Google+ could be the killer application for online and blended learning. My organization has been considering Google Hangouts alone for anything from tutoring to language labs. We were considering moving in this direction for staff meetings and collaborative trainings. Yes, we can still use it with the adults, but, why adopt a new tool if 95% of our organization, the students, can’t use it?
This is a crushing blow to online learning and renders this tool worthless to K-12 teachers.