“I don’t expect that to be a major factor long term, though, as I think Google got it right this time,” he said. “I can’t think of anything that Buzz and Wave left us wanting that isn’t incorporated into Plus. We are already seeing a lot of students, faculty and higher ed staff joining Plus, and I expect that to just continue increasing exponentially.”
The ability to separate students and professors and maintain appropriate distance from each other’s personal lives has been a much-discussed selling point for Google Plus in education.
An education-technology blogger said in a recent post that Plus’s circles fall short of necessary social media censoring.
John Woodring, a middle school teacher who blogs about instructional technology on Schoology.com, said that while Google Plus’s privacy settings “look a lot better and simpler” than privacy options on Facebook, “I am still not trusting Google totally yet.”
Educators might be savvy enough to isolate their online posts to a select group of friends, family, or colleagues, but circles are not a trustworthy safeguard against students sharing inappropriate posts with their teachers.
“I still like that high wall that separates me from my students online, and I don’t think the circles are a high enough wall,” Woodring said.
Woodring said Google Plus’s initial audience will include students alarmed by media reports about student privacy being compromised on Facebook or disciplinary action taken by school officials against students who post inflammatory remarks or scandalous photos on the massive social network.
“Many young people are on Facebook to communicate with their friends, but they’re starting to have concerns about privacy as they learn more about cyber safety,” he said. “Google Plus right now has the edge in privacy.”
Brand name loyalty may also be a factor in Google Plus’s membership.