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August 27, 2014

4 Ways to Enhance Your Class with Google Hangouts – from Jennifer Carey
This post first appeared on Edudemic.
If you are familiar with Google Tools, then you have probably heard of Google Hangouts or even used them yourself. Hangouts is Google’s video conferencing tool, and it’s an incredibly powerful way to engage with others. In addition to standard conference calls, Google Hangouts provide a broadcasting option called Hangouts on Air. This allows you to conduct your Hangout LIVE and record it to post on YouTube. You can participate in a Google Hangout from a web browser on your computer or use one of the free mobile apps for your Apple or Android device. It is important to note, however, that participating in a GHO does require that you enable Google+ (Google’s Social Media Service) and that you be at least 13 years old. However, people of any age may view a GHO broadcast “On Air” or posted to a YouTube channel. If you would like a quick tutorial for how to use  GHO, check out this great video from Google Gooru http://youtu.be/KyKsJfXIf5g Google Hangouts can be a great tool for teachers to enhance their classes. Here are four ways that teachers can use Google Hangouts to improve their teaching practices.

Virtual Office Hours

Students and teachers are busier than ever. With after school sports and activities, meeting a student “after school” is becoming less of a feasible option. One way to work around these restrictions is to use Google Hangouts to host virtual office hours. While I would never recommend making yourself available at all times to your students, you can establish set office hours or appointment times for them to engage in virtual discussions about their grades, a project they are working on, or extra help on an assignment. As Google Hangouts will allow you to access Google Drive you can use it as a medium to effectively discuss school work.

Review Sessions

Gearing up for midterms or finals, state tests, SATs, and APs, students are tested more than ever. Rather than trying to find some space on campus to engage in a bigger review session, hold one virtually with a Google Hangout. Google Hangouts limits participants to a maximum of 10. If you would like to host more students, then use a Hangout On Air. Students can still submit questions via the text box and you can host several classes simultaneously. Even better, as the session is recorded and posted on YouTube, they can return to it as they revise independently. It’s important to keep in mind that if you are using a Hangout on Air then there is a 30-120 second delay. You may want to have a few topics/concepts primed while you wait for students to submit questions.

Record Instructions for later playback

By recording a Google Hangout, you can provide your students with instructions that they can later playback. Record yourself giving a lecture, working out a problem, or physically demonstrating a concept and then post it to your class YouTube channel or embed it on your website or blog. By using GHO as a screencasting tool, you can easily flip your lessons or simply provide more instruction and support. If you are planning to be away, you can use this to prepare your instructions or lessons in advance for students to watch while you are away.

Bring in a Guest Speaker

Guest speakers can be challenging and expensive to organize. However, you can easily bring the world to your students by hosting a guest speaker with Google Hangouts. In fact, many prominent individuals host regular Hangouts on Air that you can join. President Obama has famously engaged in virtual road trips and Fireside chats via Google Hangout sessions. I may never be able to get the President to visit my classroom, but with GHO I can allow my students to engage with the President virtually. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kp_zigxMS-Y You can browse scheduled Hangouts for topics that would enhance your class, as several organizations, such as National Geographic, host regular On Air broadcasts. Google Hangouts is an incredibly valuable tool that can further enhance your students’ experiences within the classroom and outside of it. Google Hangouts is both a free and device agnostic tool that is adaptable your needs. Explore and share your classroom with other schools and educators. To experience a Google Hangout on Air first hand, EdTechTeacher will be hosting FREE, LIVE webinars this fall on a range of topics.