Thursday, December 6, 2012

Google+ In The Classroom

  As we embark on a new adventure as students at Jacksonville State University we face many challenges and we make many decisions that will effect the rest of our lives. As for some of us college life may be one big party after another, but for most of us this is a time in our lives that we take very seriously as we try to do our best in every class and knowing that this could very well make us or break us.

                                               photo credit: sourabhj via photopin cc

 Being a college freshman has been quite interesting for me, a thirty-five year old mother of three. As you can Imagine, my schedule is pretty full. Between making sure my children are up and ready for school and getting them out the door on time every morning, to now doing that for myself as well. I drive forty five minutes to school where I then park the car and "sprint" to most of my five classes that I have on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. I have fifteen minutes between classes and then have to rush home after my last class so I will be there by the time my children arrive. Then there is homework, dinner, a little house work, children getting bathes, bedtime for the children around eight thirty, and now finally I have a little time to myself. Now it's time for my homework, and maybe a little  time with my girlfriend if I'm lucky, before we head off to bed. With this sort of schedule, I have come to appreciate anything that keeps things simple. In spite of the day that it rained all day and I left my umbrella at home, or the week that my computer crashed and I lost all of my research for two classes, my biggest challenge this term has been communicating with my professors.  Most of them prefer to be contacted via email. Well I couldn't list the number of times I tried to email my psychology professor just for GEM to tell me it cannot send the mail and to contact the postmaster. Gem is our email system that is down for maintenance about as often as not. Sometimes it wont let me send an email and other times I either don't get a response from my professors, or it takes them several days to respond. This can become very frustrating. It seems to me that a concept as simple as speaking to your professor should be just that,"simple".

  The only professor I have not had any trouble communicating with this term is my English professor. During the first few classes she took the time to teach us all how to set up a google plus account, which was fairly simple. She then had us all add each other and her into a circle that we named English 101. From this point on we were able to correspond with her and with everyone in the class through google plus. This was an easy was for us to communicate with our professor and get a response almost instantly. We asked questions and shared comments and concerns with her and with each other. We also has hangouts which was a way for us to work together in real time without having to physically be in the same room. Half way through the term I was wishing I had google plus in all of my classes.

  I did a little research and found out that there are other teachers out there that also see the advantages of having google plus in the classroom. A theatre professor named Michelle says there are ten ways she uses google plus for her classes. She mentions circles and hangouts among other things. Madonna Kemp, an English Professor at UTC, uses social media in her classroom as well. She favors Facebook or Twitter, but believes in some of the advantages I mentioned earlier. One of her students says"I like being able to communicate with my professor on Twitter because it is a more relaxed situation, and takes away a lot of the formality and stress of talking to teachers about assignments." ITS of Syracuse University also agrees that social media can enhance communication among students and teachers.

  For me, Google Plus has been a real life saver during this semester. While everything else has been frustrating and stressful, Google plus has been helpful and simple, enabling me to easily communicate with my English professor and helping me to keep up with any class news. As we move forward in our journey, I can only hope that JSU will adopt a new method of communication between students and teachers and I surely hope that more teachers are willing to try Google Plus. I believe it would benefit us students and the teachers as well.

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