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Google+ LogoTwo days ago I taught the first of two public classes about Google+ at my library.  Three days after the private beta opened on June 28th, I scheduled the classes…figuring that by the time the class dates rolled around, I’d have something to say.  They became part of our library’s summer Tech Boot Camp class series–20 tech classes from July to September.

I didn’t realize that I was the first librarian teaching a Google+ class until people started pointing it out to me and asking for my class outline,  learning plan, slides, etc.  Good news: I’ll share what I have.  Bad news: I have only an informal outline, and no learning plan or slides.  I’m a public librarian, dude.  I fly by the seat of my pants with this stuff.

The class was a one-hour true introduction to the social network, giving people a tour of the profile set-up, privacy options, and many features.  We had 6 people show up for the first class, and I’ve had a dozen others contact me to tell me they’re coming to the repeat session on Monday.  For our small town library, that’s pretty good.

So here’s how I did the class.  It really wasn’t too difficult.

I distributed two printed handouts to the class:

I first explained what Google+ is, how it was a private beta (& offered invites to all attendees), and I also explained how I saw Google+ fitting into the social media universe, that it wasn’t a replacement for any other site but rather a “next step” or evolution, and for now at least it’s one more place to be.  The single sentence summary was this: “Google+ is what would happen if Facebook and Twitter had a baby and all the negative traits of both parents were removed…at least for now.”

I pulled up my own profile (with a caveat that I didn’t know in advance what my contacts had posted).  I walked through how you set up you profile, and what shows up where (including how you can choose not to fill out certain fields).  I talked quite a bit about privacy settings located in both the Google+ Settings and the Edit Profile page.

The whole class talked a lot about Circles — a big issue was understanding that you choose who you put in your circles, but that others choose if they add you.  Google+ is more like Twitter in that regard–that the decision of “following” doesn’t have to be mutual.

We looked at the Stream, Photos, Huddles, and Hangouts…though not in great detail due to time constraints.

We looked at how to post to Google+ (including adding links, photos, or video) and how to decide who you’re sharing each post with.  People really liked the granular idea of sharing posts with specific people or Circles.  I posted to “Public” at the start of the class, and by the end showed everyone how we had 15 +1s and 12 comments.

We talked about Notifications, about which there were a number of questions–generally things like “Why on earth would you want a text message when someone adds you to their Circle?”  My response was “I wouldn’t.  Sounds like you wouldn’t either.  The nice thing is Google lets you choose.”

And we talked about how to use Google+ mobile and some of the more useful Google+ Chrome Plug-Ins (Facebook & Twitter stream add-ons, etc.)

The last 10 minutes of the class was questions and discussions.  I was interested to hear one class member say “After seeing all of these features I can totally see why it’s 100 times better than Facebook.”  Another was super excited because she’s only starting to learn about social media so she can participate in the spaces her teenagers are participating, and she’s on Google+ before they are…hitting that bleeding edge first.

We concluded with the idea that Google+ is changing every day and will likely continue to change, but that it’s worth being there to be on top of what’s going on.

What would I do differently?  I’d probably spend more time on Hangouts and Huddles and actually try them out live.  I would talk about how you mention people in posts with the little + symbol before their names (I just totally forgot to say that).  If I had time I’d build a resource list for people with more tips and tricks, but since these are so easily found with a Google search I just left the students with that tip for the time being.

The second session of the class is Monday afternoon.  I hope to learn more during that class too.

If you’ve taught a class on Google+, or given thought about how to teach it, share your tips in the comments below.  Let’s crowdsource an actual learning plan *wink*

“My Google+ Class @ the Library”

  1. Brook Says:

    The third paragraph of Rowan’s note to Neil Gaiman after he deleted his account is a good summary, provided you know the other services she is referencing. Neil’s post here

    “… If you want to write a short update with a general blast, it’s like Twitter. If you want to write a blogpost with a public audience, it’s like a blog site. If you want to write a blogpost with a closed audience, it’s like Livejournal. If you want to start an online conversation with only four participants it’s like an e-mail thread. And if you want to build and share with discrete communities of people and interact with folks you know, it’s like what Facebook *says* it is but isn’t. There is no “it’s like this and you’re using it the wrong way,” but that means there’s a lot of flailing around to use it until *they* figure out a way to help people flail less initially. That’s a developer’s job, to help people use their stuff more effectively and efficiently, and that’s what beta testers are for, to tell them ways they’re succeeding and not succeeding at it.”

  2. anissa malady Says:

    It’s fantastic that San Rafael library is holding these workshops! I wish SFPL would get seriously get on board with this sort of action. We are still teaching catalog and mouse– and yes there is still a need for this, but it is time to expand.

    I would love to see workshops that include photoshop, HTML/CSC, film maker, etc.

  3. Ryan Says:

    Wow Sarah, you don’t mess around! I am still wrapping my head around Google+ and you are already training the public how to use it! Thanks for sharing your experience with training this class. I plan to offer a class in September on Google+, and I look forward to the comments on Google+ tips that others will share.

  4. Erin Says:

    Thanks for the post, and I agree with Ryan. I would like to do something like this for my small public library, although most folks around here are still getting used to “the facebook” ;)

  5. Sarah Says:

    Thanks Sarah, I’m actually in the process of planning for a G+ class so this is helpful. I plan on structuring it much like you did- and like I’ve done with all our “getting to know xxxx” classes- facebook, twitter, flickr. Show them the site, how to set it up, and privacy controls. Then let them play, or at least ask questions.

  6. Barbara B Says:

    I laughed out loud (at the reference desk, no less) when I read “I’m a public librarian, dude. I fly by the seat of my pants with this stuff.” It could be my motto. =8+0
    thanks for your google+ article. My family is just venturing into it–for once I’m actually following the older generation of my family in tech land instead of leading them.

  7. Catherine Voutier Says:

    Hi Sarah

    I tried to get into Google+ Beta but they’ve closed membership now as they have all the testers they want. I might be conducting a similar class to yours, but gearing it towards professional CPD and networking etc.

    Thanks for this overview! – Catherine

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  9. Mother Moonshine Says:

    WOW…Have you tapped into my thoughts??!! Currently doing my Library Technician Diploma here in Aus and have to do a talk on a Web 2.0 application in a couple of months. I chose Google + and have been collating my ideas and links.
    We are sooo on the same wave length for this one. Phew! As a beginner this gives me a lot of confidence.
    Thanks ;>

  10. Links of interest: August 20th, 2011 « A Modern Hypatia Says:

    [...] Sarah (Librarian in Black)’s outline of a Google+ class she taught at her library. [...]

  11. mascali Says:

    Thanks for your precious post Sarah.
    @ Catherine Voutier : Now google+ is open to all : https://plus.google.com/102844632837648399500/posts I can send you invite if you need,

    Greetings from Italy.

    p.s. …sorry for my bad english

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