Before commencing with this post, let me admit that I am a technophile and have a soft spot for Google. Their organisational culture is worthy of scholarly attention, their product offerings are inspired and personally, they have opened a world of opportunities for social and intellectual interaction.
Google plus will be adopted as the official means with which I will be communicating with my students in the second semester. It's that simple, I can create a circle and add them to it, they can interact with me, and we can share documents and conversations online in one place. In short, it creates an online workspace that eases the communication and consultation that is so essential in e-learning, even when it is as a supplement to ordinary classroom learning.
I already used Facebook to communicate with the students. Many of them have facebook on their telephones and found it cheaper to post a message on there as opposed to sending an sms. Last year we even used Mxit. However, google chat is far easier, and is directly integrated with gmail, so you're now accessing communication, social networking and information searching from one portal.
For enterprises and higher education, this may prove to be a shared online workspace that works. The circles also ease control of information, my work circle for example may include reminders about setting exams, whereas the student circle will include me nagging the students to study and the private circle of friends may include frustrated comments about the former.
Finally, if adopted, this may be the way to integrate the many sides of ourselves personally and professionally, but first, they need to get people interested enough to join and that's not going to happen just because a varsity lecturer tells you to.
Here's an example of the sort of site you can set up (this took less than an hour, and you can kind of tell, but it's easy to use) CHRM302