Google+ Filled With Minuses

Using Google+, I just participated in a synchronous video conversation with my classmate. Prior to tonight’s synchronous event, we sent Moodle messages and emails to determine which mode of communication we would utilize for our participation in a synchronous event. We selected Google+ because we both have Gmail accounts and neither one of us had previously used Google+.

Prior to tonight’s “live” conversation, I found out that Google+ and Hangouts are one and the same. I found the icon to take me to the Hangout. I found out that I needed to start circles so that I would be able to connect with my classmate. I learned how to send an Instant Message through Google+; however, when I went to send a follow up message, I was unable to write any further text. It’s as if the chat room vanished.

When a giant green icon with quotes in it appeared on my computer screen and my computer rang like a telephone, I had no clue how to answer it. I clicked on the giant green icon and the next thing I saw was a person, my classmate who I had not yet met. While the conversation was most enjoyable and the experience fun, we both noticed that the visual of Google+ is nowhere near that of Skype.  While I could see my classmate, his image was unclear and even a bit blurry. Further, while the conversation was delightful (thanks partner!), the audio component also was not as clear as Skype.  There was a slight echo which did not go away, even when I turned down my speakers. When it came time to end the video call, we concurred that neither one of us really knew how to end the call. Instructions or icons would have been helpful as would the message option as Skype offers.

I would have no problem setting up video chat appointments with students. Talking face-to-face, so to speak, offers an opportunity to build a connection and have a genuine discussion. I could actually envision using a synchronous event to conference with students about their assignments. However, I would opt to use Skype because it offers a better video connection, clear audio, a message option, and has a short learning curve, whereas Google+ has a poor video image, an audio that echoes, and a learning curve that twists too much.  Thus, Google+ rates a minus in terms of using it for synchronous communication events.

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