Article by: Jess Cuadro
Video by: Jeanne D., Tong Hwa H., and Henry B.
Previously, Facebook was the place where a student’s personal life and school life converged outside of the classroom. The numbered notifications that appeared atop one’s feed were ready reminders of meetings and assemblies. Chat groups were go-to havens for those who lacked notes or had forgotten the day’s homework. But recently, ISM has switched over to Google+, with clubs and councils speedily setting up Communities. Facebook is quick, convenient, and comfortable, so why the change?
The short answer: centralization. “Google has a mainframe that gives…[the school’s] IT department access to their infrastructure,” says IT Coordinator Mr. Collett. This gives the school the ability to “control settings, solve problems, set privacy levels, [and regulate specific] services.” Aside from these features, ISM will also make use of Google Apps for Free Education (GAFE), which, according to Mr. Collett, “[operates] according to a set of ethics that protects the rights of [students],” thus reducing the possibility of hacking, identity theft, and cyberbullying.
Not only does Google+ secure sensitive information, but it’s also a platform that newbies can easily navigate and get comfortable with. “[Getting used to Google+] was no hassle at all,” says freshman Tanvi A. In fact, Tanvi believes that Google+ has aided her transition into high school. “[Google+] is making my high school life more organized,” explains Tanvi. “Now I know where everything is and where I can find it.” Instead of having to comb through unofficial Facebook pages that are inaccessible in school, teachers and students are added to communities where they are kept updated on school business.
While most find Google+ useful for consolidating connections within our school, some find it limiting in the sense that it prevents students from reaching out to audiences outside their immediate network. For example, our school’s publication for creative writing, Liham, has launched its official Facebook page with the aim of promoting school-wide readership of student-penned pieces. “Clubs looking to increase publicity outside Google+ don’t have that option because our communities are platforms exclusive to club members,” says Liham editor-in-chief Angelo M. “Google+ might be extremely useful for school-wide announcements through the ISSBA page, but individual clubs are deprived of more intuitive opportunities to directly promote themselves, opportunities that are present in other social networking sites.”
But whether you give Google+ a yay or a nay, the fact is that it’s here to stay. Its +1s might not weigh as much as Facebook or Instagram likes do, and your Google+ stream might not be as vibrant as your Facebook Newsfeed, but Google+ is the smart solution to the safety and interaction equation.