I had been waiting with much anticipation for Google to finally open up Google+ for K-12 Apps for Education domains. They finally did so just a few weeks ago and I quickly had our domain administrator open it up for staff (after checking with the CTO of our district, of course). The main reason I wanted to open it up for staff was to take advantage of Hangouts, the multi-point video conferencing feature that is only available to those with a Google plus account. My vision for this was to be able to record conversations among our district staff who have been using iPads over the past year, so that teachers who are new to using them this year can watch and learn a thing or two. I was able to make this vision a reality as you can see here:
It did require quite a bit of planning on my part: scheduling time with the experienced iPad teachers, making sure they had a webcam, helping them enable their district Google plus account (which is an issue itself as now folks may have two Google Plus accounts) and making sure we were in each others' circles.
All in all it worked well for staff, but it made me think about how this could be used for/with students. When our domain administrator reviewed the settings for Google Plus in the Apps control panel, it was quite clear that there is no way to keep posts private, so at this point we have no intention of opening it up for students. But that doesn't mean we can't still use Google Hangouts for students. What I am thinking about here is the feature of Hangouts on Air that allows you to embed a hangout. When you copy the embed code and paste it in an Edmodo group message stream, the hangout can be watched live or asyncronously right there, and perhpas even more importantly a secure, private chat can occur below the post. Here is an example of en embedded Hangout:
It would also be possible for students using a personal Google Plus account, or one of their parents', to actually join the hangout as well. But I haven't fully fleshed out the security/legal/ethical ramifications of that yet. So, what do you think? In lieu of opening up Google Plus for students, might the combination of Edmodo and Google Hangouts be a viable alternative?