Working in Groups Using Google+ and Blackboard Technology

Blackboard Web 2.0 Tools

Classroom grouping is a wonderful opportunity to engage students with course materials, increase course concept understanding, and retain students in an active learning environment.   Google+ is one of many integrated Google apps that can be used towards facilitating collaborative group activities.  It is a powerful social networking tool that offers the potential to have students work on projects together  synchronously (in live time) and asynchronously.  Google+  can also be used to work with an instructor directly on areas of concern or to create opportunities to expand the curriculum for inquisitive or advanced students.

In Google+,  you can have groups of students use the screen-share feature to share and collaborate on  documents, work with online applications (programs), use learning games, view instructional YouTube videos, use online chat and video-chat tools,  access academic programs, and complete worksheets and activities in live time.

Google+ - New Ways of Sharing Across All of Google

Google+ is an active feature students can access through their MATC Gmail accounts. It is handy for students and readily available for instructors as one means for offering student support and accessible online office time.

How Can Instructors Use Google+ in their Classes?

Instructors creating groups through Blackboard’s Group Tool can easily incorporate the use of Google+ and other Google apps into group work to promote student collaboration and to manage and evaluate group assignments.  The Group Tool  in Blackboard provides a management system for organizing groups, giving group assignments, managing group work, and student evaluation.

Blackboard Group
Blackboard's Group Tool is used to create groups of students, provide them with collaborative tools, and distribute group assignments.

Once a group is formed in Blackboard, the instructor can invite the group of students to join a Google+ circle developed for the course. In Google+, a circle is a group of individuals with a common interest.  Circles are easy to create and are great for  organizing groups and controlling how information or activities are shared among group members.  An invitation to join a circle can be given by sharing a link to the circle , either as a part of a group assignment or posted with office hours.

Google Circles
Creating circles helps you quickly and easily organize groups in Google+. Invitations to a circle can be sent via student Gmail or posted as links in your class.

Using Google+ Hangouts, Google’s free video-conferencing tool, up to 10 members of a circle can easily meet and interact with each other in live time.  Using the Hangouts On-Air feature, students can record their live video-conferences and post them to YouTube for  private review or share them with the instructor. Hangouts are great for organizing meetings and  learning opportunities.

These are only a few examples of ways to interact using Google+. However, Google+ and the Group Tool in Blackboard can work in a seamless fashion to provide students and instructors with a means for integrating group work into the online and face-to-face class.

Where can you learn more about Blackboard Groups and Google+?

To learn more about creating groups in Blackboard and group assignments, see these tutorials:

To learn more about using Google+ to facilitate group activities and discussions, check out these online resources: