The social network Google+ isn’t just great for connecting with friends. As a teacher, you can use it to connect with students in many different ways. The following are some ideas for creative uses of Google+ and Google+ Hangouts. Just keep in mind that not all students have Internet access. If you teach at a college level, it’s acceptable to require students to access Google+ as part of your course. If you teach 12th grade and below, use Google+ only as an optional enhancement to classroom learning, or allow students class time to access it. Here are six ways to use Google+ for teaching.

6 Ways for Teachers to Use Google Plus

6 Ways for Teachers to Use Google Plus

Extra Credit

There are many different ways to sweeten the deal for your students and give them the opportunity to earn some extra credit with Google+. You can reward students who share an interesting link that’s relevant to your current material, for example. You can post questions and encourage responses, or just post a specific extra credit assignment. With Google+ Hangouts, you can offer special opportunities for students to earn extra credit when they join in on a live discussion.

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If you have a question to ask of your students, such as their preferences for a classroom activity, assignment, or their opinions on a topic, you can easily use Google+ to poll them for their responses. To do this, post and share your question. Then, immediately go to the post and leave a separate comment for each answer choice. Ask your students to “+1” the answer they agree with. You can even disable comments after you leave yours to keep the post strictly a poll.

Long-Distance Learning

Using Google+ Hangouts, you can give your students the opportunity to connect with other students and teachers in a different part of the country or world. When you find a cooperating classroom elsewhere, design a project or discussion for students to concentrate on together. Divide them into groups of ten, and then allow them to interact with their long-distance group members via Hangouts. They can just talk, or they can edit Google Docs together to complete an assignment.

Studying and Review

Google+ is also a great tool to help your students study and review class material. You can post study aids, for example, and encourage students to ask questions of each other and you. Or, you can organize Hangouts to do a group review session, especially when a test is coming up. If you have more than nine students, assign everyone to a Hangout at a different time to give them all an equal opportunity to review with you or each other.

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6 Ways for Teachers to Use Google Plus

Live Discussion

Group video chatting via Hangouts offers so much potential to teachers and students. The simplest way it can be used is to just have a discussion with your students. You can use Hangouts as an extension of classroom learning. “Hanging out” will give your students the opportunity to delve deeper into a subject, without the confines of scheduled class time. Encourage them by posing discussion topics and inviting them to ask questions or share additional information they discover online.

Connect with Parents

If you teach younger students, it’s a good idea to invite their parents along. If their parents are on Google+, they can follow different classroom activities and receive updates on their children’s progress. They could even join in on some discussion and Hangouts, too.