Two 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:
- a graphic from Patrick Beja describing the differences between Google+, Facebook, and Twitter with the analogy of different kinds of parties.
- the Google Cheat Sheet created by Simon Laustsen (available in a dozen languages)
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*