The classic investor question “What happens if Google enters your market?” gets never old. Today the question became more relevant for virtual classroom providers, VoIP services like Skype and live streaming services like Ustream or Justin.tv.
Google announced 9 new features in Google+ and four of them are very compelling for the use in online education. Those features are all in closed beta and will slowly but surely be accessible to all Google+ users.
Hangouts “On Air”
Google+ Hangouts are limited to 10 active participants. With the new “On Air” feature you can not only broadcast them to an unlimited group of spectators but also record the session.
Screensharing, Sketchpad and Google Docs
These three features turn Google+ Hangouts into an online teaching environment similar to using a virtual classroom. The scetchpad is basically an interactive whiteboard and the possibility to share and collaborate in a Google Doc has already proven to be useful in online teaching.
The other features include Hangouts on mobile phones and an API for developers who can now create more applications for Google+ Hangouts.
Last but not least, Google+ is now open for everyone to join.
As Google and Facebook are both battling for the social network crown and Facebook is expected to announce some major releases at the f8 including music streaming, an overhaul of the site and new buttons besides “like” these new additions to the Google+ platform might aim to steal some of Facebook’s thunder.