Submitted by Fiona Beal
Most days I think that Google must be the most exciting company on the planet right now. Perhaps this is because I was exposed to their extreme creativity at the recent Google Teacher Academy I attended in New York! Every day something new pops up with Google. For example, I have just read and tweeted about another amazing thing that is happening in the Googlesphere from the Google blog! “If you ever dreamed of playing in a band, now’s your chance to be a rock star. JAM with Chrome is an interactive web application that enables friends in different locations to play music together in the Chrome browser on their computers. No matter what your level of talent—from daydreaming air guitarist to music pro—you can JAM together in real time over the web.” This could be such fun! You can read about that here: http://goo.gl/mpZ8K. but back to the topic of Google hangouts…
This is one of Google’s really incredible offerings and if you haven’t discovered it yet, now is the time. It has enormous implications for education and the global classroom. Google+ is Google’s social networking tool. Once you have created a circle of friends, you can choose to hang out with them on Google+. This allows you to video chat, IM chat, watch YouTube videos together, and more. A hangout is a similar concept to Skype but you can do so much more with it. You can chat live face to face with a circle of people, share documents, work on and edit a Google document together during the hangout, create a video of the chat and upload it to YouTube, and a host of other things…all for free!
Latest news on hangouts
Another new thing has just happened today! Google announced today that it has extended the limit for the number of people you can invite to a Google+ hangout from 10 to 15 when it is used for education. http://goo.gl/GIkBD.
How do you create a hangout?
It is a really simple process. You schedule a hangout in a calendar entry, join a hangout directly from Gmail. For a detailed step-by-step process read this article in Wiki-how http://goo.gl/cu5aQ
My experience of a hangout today
The possibilities available with hangouts are endless. I have just been part of an amazing hangout that was a reunion of eight friends from the Google Teacher Academy in New York. How it all started was that Brent Catlett, a District Instructional Technology Trainer in the US wrote a post called #GTANY Part 7 reflecting on several of the people he had met during the Google Teacher Academy in New York. He then tweeted those he had mentioned and next thing we had arranged a reunion hangout which has just happened. The time was 3:30 am for me but I wouldn’t have missed it for anything!
It was awesome just catching up and hearing some news. Linda Yollis a Grade 2 and 3 teacher in Los Angeles has a world famous blog Mrs Yollis’ classroom blog . Her class recently had a hangout with JR Ginex-Orinion‘s class (JR is a chemistry high school teacher). You can read about it in her post. https://www.schoolnet.org.za/2012/11/mr-jrs-science-stop-matter-matters.html. JR’s class imparted Science safety tips and information to Linda’s class and got them really excited about Science!
Brent Catlett from the USA and Tanya Avarith from Canada mentioned how they are already creating digital footprints for their own very young children at home and teaching them safety online while they are young. In fact Tanya is part of a big safety online research project that is taking place and she will be going to visit Facebook soon as part of this project. Others on the hangout shared about how their schools conduct professional development sessions which was very interesting to hear about. And so we chatted and shared our news….
Google effects in hangouts
As everyone was signing off Linda and I were experimenting with the Google effects you can use during a hangoout. Google has added 100+ apps to their hangouts.
|Linda Yollis and Fiona Beal|
You never know what you might learn on a hangout! Last week Brenda Hallowes and I were having a hangout and Brenda invited a teacher from the Global Classroom project in Mexico who happened to be online to join us. He was busy teaching a Grade 6 class which he introduced us to. Lo and behold his students were all working away on their iPads as though using a tablet was the most natural thing in the world. Incredible for a South African teacher to observe!
So please explore using a hangout. It will be an incredibly enriching experience.