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Using Google+ Communities in your Online Course

Google+ Communities offer some great features to use in your online course: Google+ Hangouts is a great alternative to Skype for having office hours in your online course, you may share your screen to demonstrate something to your students and allows up to 15 people to participate simultaneously. It also offers full integration with Google Drive. ASU is a Google Apps campus and all faculty and students have access to a Google+ account. The best way to plan office hours is to create an event in a Google+ Community for your course.

In this tutorial we will show you how to:

  1. Activate your ASU Google+ profile
  2. Create a Google+ Community for your online course
  3. Invite students to join the community
  4. Create an event to host your office hours

Activate your ASU Google+ Profile

Before you start, please make sure you are signed off your personal Google account. Once you are ready, go to and sign in with your ASURITE credentials. Once in ASU Gmail, click the square on the top right hand side of your screen (1 in the screenshot below), then the Google+ icon (2).

Note: If your Google+ profile is activated you will see a +YourName link. Clicking that will take you to Google+


Enter your name, gender and birthday information click Upgrade (3).


Google+ Signup page

In the next few screens you will be prompted to add some people you may know. Continue to add information until you reach your Google+ home page.

Create a Google+ Community for your online course

Creating a community for your online course allows to bring conversations to the web among students in your classroom, and allow you to create events such as office hour Hangouts. To create a community, in your Google+ home page, under Home (4), click Communities (5).

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Once in the Communities page, click on the Create Community button (6)

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In the next screen you will be prompted to choose between a community restricted to users with an email account (recommended), or a community that is not restricted to an email account. Click Next (7) to continue.

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Select the ‘Open within’ option, provide a name for your community (8) relative to the course you are teaching (we recommend using your course title, SLN and term), select ‘Yes, anyone in can ask to join’ (9) and click ‘Create community’ (10).

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In this screen you will finish setting up your community (11). Once finished click Done (12).

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Once finished you will be prompted to share your community. At this point click cancel (13) to not your community as you may not have access to your roster. We will go over this in the next few steps.

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Invite students to join the community

The easiest way to invite students to join your Google+ community is by sharing the unique URL for your community via a mass email through Blackboard.

While in your community, copy the URL from the address bar in your browser (14).


In Blackboard, under Course Management, Course Tools, Send Email, select All Users. Enter the subject information (15), paste the URL in the message body (16) and click Submit to send (17). Once the students click the URL they will be prompted to Ask to Join the community and you will receive a notification to approve it.



Create an event to host your office hours

Once you are ready to host office hours, you can create an event with start and end dates and time and invite all the members of your community.

In your community, click on the Event icon (18).

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Enter the event information, customize your theme, select the start and end dates and make sure you select Hangouts under Event options (19). Click invite, all the members of the community will be automatically invited and you will be directed to the event page.

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In the event page you will be able to see who has RSVP’d and even post an update. Once students RSVP, the event will automatically appear in the calendar and once it is time to join the hangout they will get a notification to join.

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If you have trouble setting up your community or need to find more information, feel free to click on the Helpout link below and I’ll troubleshoot over live video.