Connect/Social Networks

Social networks are a great way to connect to your PLN.  However, if you are an educator, you need to ensure that you have your personal separated from your professional.  I am a Facebook user, but it is mainly to stay connected to friends, family, and my former students who are now adults.  I keep my Facebook use personal.
Recently, in order to reach a larger audience, I have created a jheil65 Facebook Educator page. Here, I can share similar information that I would in other social media. As some people only use Facebook for social media, I believe it allows me to reach some people that I might not otherwise be able to reach. If you use Facebook personally, you need to ensure that your privacy settings are such that a future principal could not Google you and gain access to your account.  It also keeps underage students from access to information/media that you might prefer to keep private.  For me, here is where Google+ comes in.  It is like a hybrid of Facebook and Twitter for me.  It allows me to share information and connect with peers, students, and others in a public space.

My favorite feature of Google+ for education is the Hangout feature.  This allows you to video conference for free with up to nin other people (Up to 15 if your school has Google Apps for Education).  This is a great way for students to collaborate with peers on group projects, or it might be a way to have virtual office hours or have small-group presentations.  I also like the ability to sort members of your Google+ network into circles, which easily allows you to share information with specific circles instead of your entire network. Recently, they have added a Community feature that allows for both public and private communities.

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