Sunday, June 15, 2014

Is it Time to Plus Your Google? Five Reasons to Say Yes


The alarm clock rings and before the coffee has time to perk, many of us reach for our smartphones  or boot up our computers to reconnect with the world and prepare for our day. We scroll through our Facebook and Twitter feeds, read our e-mail and texts, consult the calendar for our daily agenda and check the weather forecast to help us make informed wardrobe choices. Through technology we are better connected and better informed than we have ever been and we are “wired” nearly every minute of our day.
The downside is that we are having to use multiple platforms, services, and logins and sometimes they just don’t play well with each other. We diligently try to separate work from personal and aren’t quite sure what is getting shared with whom.
What if there was a way to integrate all those productivity services with a smart social networking layer and you only had to remember ONE login? Would you give it a try?

Evidently about 540 million people have said yes to that question by joining Google+ and it is growing at an incredible rate every day. It acts as a social layer that integrates and connects all of the other Google products that many of us use every day such as Search, Chrome, Gmail, Maps and more.

We admit. Google+ has us a bit Googley-eyed at UNFCE. We are discovering many exciting ways to use this product to enhance the educational experience for our students, and to collaborate and communicate with staff, instructors and industry leaders.  

Here are our five favorite features:
1. Circles--Gone are the Friend, Unfriend, Follow, Unfollow headaches. In Google+, all your connections are organized into circles that you create and manage. You can add anyone on Google+ to your circles and decide just what you want to share with each circle. It’s easy and efficient.

2. Integration with other Google services--Whether you are in Search, Gmail, Maps, or Drive (or any of the other Google products and services), Google+ acts as a sharing and networking layer on top of these services. Everything is easily accessible and sharable, and your Google+ bar is readily available at the top of your screen.

3. Communities--Communities are a place to gather together online, have rich conversations, and explore your interests with like-minded people anywhere in the world. Google+ communities can be private or public, and can be as small as two people or as large as thousands!

4. Hangouts--This is like Messenger, Skype and Facetime, but way, way better. Have a  private video chat with up to 10 people or broadcast it live and it will save to your YouTube channel. Hangouts also integrates with Google Drive for on-screen file sharing and screen sharing, so collaboration is a breeze. You can also use it as a text messenger, and it works across all mobile platforms. Look for UNFCE to offer Hangouts to learn more about upcoming classes, Q&A sessions, tutorials and instructor chats.

5.Photo Gallery--Google+ has impressive photo management and editing capabilities. Automatically backup your mobile photos or access your stored photos on Google Drive and enjoy full featured photo editing capabilities built into Plus. Google+ also has terrific bonus features such as Auto Awesome and Stories to help you present your photos in fun ways. You can edit your photos within the posting box after you upload and before you share. With 15 GB of photo storage, you can backup and upload in standard mode or high definition and still have plenty of available space left.

Want more? Here are 20 reasons to try Google+ from Infographic Labs.

So, why not give it a try? We hope you will and that when you do, you will Follow UNF Continuing Education on our Google+ Page.

Want to learn more? We’re planning to offer a Google class in the fall. If you want to be notified when the class is available, please e-mail us at unfce@unf.edu or Tweet us at  @unfce!
We welcome all suggestions, questions and comments. Please feel free to share with us below.