Monday, April 4, 2016

Why every educator should be using Google Communities

How would you like a way to connect with hundreds of thousands of educators online? To find others who teach the same subject? To locate classes around the world to collaborate with? To share your ideas and learn from others?

One great way to accomplish all of these ideas is with Google Communities.

Communities is one of Google’s many, but often lesser known, services. However, if you are in education, it is a tool you should definitely be using for yourself, your students, and your school.

See the rest of the blog post below for:
  • An overview of Google Communities
  • Ideas for how you can use Communities in your school
  • A list of some great educational Communities to join
  • A one-hour training video all about Communities
  • And a detailed help guide

What are Google Communities?
  • Google Communities are online forums or discussion groups which are centered around a shared interest or topic.
  • The theme of the Community can be educational, such as Google Apps for schools, special needs, or elementary education.
  • Or the theme can focus on a sport, TV show, hobby, or more.
  • Communities can be public or private.
  • Communities can be open to anyone who wants to join or can require approval from the moderator to join.
  • Members of the Community can post to the group.
  • Posts can include text, links, images, videos, events, or polls.
  • Posts can be organized by categories set up within the Community.
  • Members can receive new posts as email messages, or can choose not to receive notifications.

Using Communities in School

In schools, Communities can be a very powerful resource, used for a wide variety of purposes. Below are some possible ideas for using Google Communities in a school setting.

For students:
  • Discussion starters for students - This can be a great way to pose a question of the day, a brainstorming activity, or a topic for debate.
  • Class polls - The poll feature is a quick and easy way to survey students in preparation for a lesson or as a formative assessment over current material.
  • Students helping students - Classmates can use the forum to ask questions and get help, instead of the teacher being the only source of knowledge.
  • Personal connection for online learning - Communicating in the community can help connect students and their teacher for online or blended courses, by giving an easy way for everyone to discuss and share.
  • Find collaboration partners - Many Communities are focused on connecting schools from around the world to do collaborative projects, digital pen pals, distance learning through Hangouts, and more. This is an easy way to find a school in a different state, country, or culture that your school and connect for projects.

For staff:
  • Professional Learning Network (PLN) - Google Communities are a great way to connect with other educators around the world, learn from them, discover resources, ask questions, and share your ideas.
  • Stay informed - Communities cover pretty much every topic, and provide a great way to stay informed on all of the latest news, announcements, conferences, ideas, and more related to your field of interest.
  • Staff Professional Development - Communities provide a great way for staff to conduct a book study or other ongoing professional development, as questions can be posed and staff can discuss the topics and share their ideas.
  • Committees and topic groups - Communities can also be an easy way for groups of staff to send out messages, share information, such as committees, departments, building groups, tech teams, and more.

Example Education Communities

There are Google+ Communities for pretty much any topic or interest. Below are links to some example Communities related to education and technology. This is just a small sampling to act as a good starting point.
  • Google Educator Groups (GEG) - link
  • Google Apps for Education - link
  • Google Apps in Education - link
  • Chromebook EDU - link
  • Instructional Tech Integrators & Coaches - link
  • Mystery Location Calls - link
  • G+eduhangout - link
  • Google Hangouts in Education - link
  • Educators on Google+ - link
  • Google Apps Educators - link
My Communities - Here are some of the Communities I directly run or help mange:
  • Google Educator Group of Ohio - link
  • Technology Integration Leaders of Ohio - link
  • SPARCC Google User Group - link

Video Tutorial (one-hour recorded webinar)

Additional Resources

What are some of your favorite Google Communities? Share the links in the comments section below.

Post by Eric Curts. Bring me to your school, organization, or conference with over 50 PD sessions to choose from. Connect with me on Twitter at and on Google+ at

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