Google+ allows colleges to create official pages

“The big ‘if’ is if [students] engage with Google+ the way they engage with Facebook. If they do, then schools will need to be there,” Barnett said.

Campus technologists were largely skeptical of Google+ after the company’s failed attempts to create a social media site that can compete with Facebook—known as Google Buzz and Google Wave.

Google Wave, introduced in October 2009, combined text, audio, and video chat with features like drag-and-drop documents and interactive polls.

It was billed as what eMail would look like if it were invented today. Less than a year later, Google announced it wouldn’t “continue developing Wave as a standalone product,” but would use the site’s technology for other endeavors.

While Wave was pitched as a more business-related collaboration project, Google Buzz was hailed as a social site built into Gmail accounts. Buzz was seen as a far more entertainment-centric site.

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+ in education.

“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,” said John Woodring, a middle school teacher who blogs about instructional technology. “Google Plus right now has the edge in privacy.”