Going Global with Google Hangouts

Video conferencing is a technology that is allowing teachers to create learning experiences for their students that were previously inconceivable and can be classified in the redefinition phase of the SAMR model. Tools including Skype and Face Time are familiar to many educators, however for a teacher using Google Apps for Education, Google Hangouts, and specifically Google Hangouts On Air, offer several advantages over other types of video conferencing technologies including:

Image Credit: Guillaume Lemoine via Flickr

Image Credit:
Guillaume Lemoine via Flickr

1. Live streaming  and archiving to YouTube
2. No software installation!!
3. Screen sharing capabilities
4. Up to ten people can participate
5. Q & A sessions

And perhaps the best feature of all…silly hats! The screencast below walks you through setting up a Google Hangout On Air. Specifically, I demonstrate how to:

1. Create and promote your Hangout On Air
2. Invite guests, control audio and video
3. Use a variety of Hangout apps to enhance your call (did someone say silly hats?)



Differences and Benefits: Google Hangouts VS. Hangouts On Air

Screen Shot 2015-01-10 at 10.19.35 PMA Google Hangout does not stream live on YouTube and therefore isn’t archived for future sharing, making it a suitable choice if you wish to have a private conversation. You can still have up to ten people in the Hangout and are able to access the Hangout apps; screen share, effects, toolbox, and more. A Google Hangout On Air streams live through a teacher’s Google+ page and YouTube channel. Teachers can record classroom discussions, performances, or presentations to a global audience. They can connect their students to guest speakers, industry experts, and other classrooms from all over the globe to share ideas and discuss any curriculum topic imaginable. Technology coaches can offer teachers webinars and virtual PD sessions. Likewise, an administrator can use Hangouts On Air to share school events and the accomplishments of her students not just with local stakeholders, but with the entire world.  And with proper coaching and preparation, students can facilitate conversations with industry experts using Hangouts On Air. Placing students in front of the camera allows them to showcase their communication skills and professionalism. In addition, any lesson which integrates the use of a Hangout On Air would certainly connect to many of the common core state standards for speaking and listening. Students facilitating Hangouts On Air provides them with the opportunity to hone both their technical and soft skills in real-life situations. The video archive serves as an impressive digital artifact which can be embedded in a digital portfolio, blog, or included in a student’s LinkedIn profile. It’s exciting to see that in Burlington, more and more teachers are learning about the power and ease of Google Hangouts on Air and are creating authentic, meaningful learning experiences for their students.

Go Live in 3…2…1…A Hangouts How To For Educators

Starting a Hangout on Air is actually quite simple. If you already use Google+, have a YouTube channel, and are familiar with Chrome extensions, you can use the One Click Google On-Air Hangout extension (I just discovered this!) and start a live broadcast in seconds. If you are a Hangout novice, follow the steps listed below, or watch the screencast.

Before you begin the broadcast, I would recommend you create your YouTube channel.  The first time you do a Hangout On Air, you will be prompted to link your Google+ profile with your YouTube channel. This is a two-step process that Google walks you through. You will provide your phone number, Google will send you a code via text and once you enter the code, you will be ready to do your first Hangout On Air.

Starting A Hangout On Air

1. Access Google+ from the apps launcher, or by typing plus.google.com in the OmniBox. From your Google+ page, select the drop down menu on the far left hand side and select Hangouts.


2. Click on “start Hangout on Air”

Hangouts 2

3. Give your Hangout a name, description (optional), select either Now or Later, enter the date, time, and duration of the call if you select later, and choose your audience. The default audience is public, and I recommend leaving that default setting. A public audience allows your broadcast to be viewed globally. Note that the audience is separate from the panelists who will be a part of the video chat. Your panelists, or Hangout guests, will be invited separately. Whenever I do a Hangout On Air I send the link to my panelist via email. It is during this step in the process that you will also need to agree to the legal terms of a Hangout On Air. You will only be asked to do this once; the first time you do a Hangout On Air.

Hangout Part 4

4. After you hit “share” you will be brought to the Hangout event page. From this page you can promote your broadcast by sharing the link to the Google+ event page, your YouTube channel, or you can embed the video in any website so that people can watch the broadcast once you go live. Once you hit the blue “start” button you will be taken inside the Hangout where you can add a lower third, enable group chat, control your camera and mic, experiment with effects, and more. You must enable the Q & A app from your Google+ event page (shown below) if you wish to give your audience the ability to ask questions during the Hangout. Note: you CANNOT enable Q & A once you hit the blue start button. Hangouts 5

5. Once the Hangout loads you will not go live until you hit the green start broadcast button (shown below).

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Before you start the broadcast I recommend the following Hangout On Air best practices:

Set up your lower third- select Choose Logo to upload a picture-click mirror so it displays properly

Lower Third 2

Screen Shot 2015-01-10 at 11.01.08 AM
Test your mic and camera-be sure panelists mute their microphones when they aren’t speaking. Remember you can use the Control App for any audio or video trouble during the call.

Control Room

Additional Tips:

~Practice using the screen share app and ensure your panelists can see the correct screen
~If you are facilitating, you control the conversation~ click on the panelist who is speaking to show them full screen
~Consider the lighting and background of where you are broadcasting from
~Be sure you won’t be interrupted during a Hangout On Air; phone calls, visitors, etc.

Awesome Apps

Hangouts On Air apps are designed to make the experience fun and interactive for the participants and audience. Apps such as the Control Room and Camera Man have been built to provide the host with the ability to manage the technical aspects of the broadcast. The image below provides a brief description of each app.


Hangouts On Air Apps

Visit the Google Help Center for even more details about the features and benefits of Hangouts On Air Apps. 

Hangout Examples

More and more educators all over the world are leveraging the power of Hangouts On Air to redefine how their students are learning. In Burlington, we have plenty of examples to share.

1. Burlington High School art teacher Christina Chang used Hangouts On Air at the seventh annual BHS Alumni Artist day to connect her students with BHS alumnus Rachel Faller, Fashion Designer and Owner of the California based company Tonle Zero Waste Fashion.

2. TJ Horgan and Michael Seleman, BHS seniors and members of the Help Desk program, facilitated a Hangout On Air with Susuan Bearden, developer of the app TweechMe.

3. Senior Hammad Sadiq had the incredible opportunity to interview Rod Keller, CEO of Segway.

4. At Francis Wyman Elementary School, Lynne O’Neil’s third graders participated in a Hangout On Air during the week of Hour of Code with Ian and Alish, both from Hopscotch. Students showed them the games they had programmed using their iPads.

5. You can see more examples of Hangouts On Air by checking out the Help Desk Live YouTube Channel.

As word continues to spread about Hangouts On Air, I’m hopeful I’ll be assisting many more teachers throughout the Burlington district to help them go global with Google Hangouts On Air!

I hope learning about Hangouts On Air was helpful and it is a tool you will consider using tomorrow!


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