There is growing awareness of what cloud computing (and what web apps in general) can do for education. Google as an organisation has been one of the institutions that have led the charge with their development of GAFE (Google Apps for Education). I’m sure many of us are all familiar with blogger, gmail, youtube, Google Drive, etc… How many of the icons below do you recognise????
Google Apps

If you are familiar with these tools you’ll be aware of how effective a teaching and learning tool they can be. One of the lesser known tools, which also happens to be one of my favourites, is ‘Google Hangouts’. Hangouts are super easy to use and also have they potential to massively impact on teaching and learning experiences in classrooms across the globe.

What are Hangouts?

Well put simply, ‘Hangouts’ are Google’s answer to live video conferencing. The many people who use Skype can confirm the benefits of using Video Conferencing tools. The difference is with Hangouts all you need is a gmail friendly email. You can literally link to anyone else with a gmail account in the world. On top of that, Google have linked this tool to it’s other apps. You can go into your Google calendar and add an event. Here you set a time and invite multiple participants to join. Google automatically emails all invitees and factors in timezones etc for you. One simply clicks on the ‘video call’ link and they’re in. This means that there is no need for third party accounts, everything operates under the Google umbrella. Too easy!On top of this, Hangouts lets you talk to multiple people at once. You can literally chat to a class in every continent at once if you so desired.Here are two practical ways that Hangouts can be used with Students:

1: The simplest, most direct way to use Hangouts is to have class link directly to another. This was done by Kelly Hollis,  Maggie Mattson and Kimberly Sutton earlier this year. I witnessed Kelly Hollis, a high school science teacher, link with two Primary School classes. She had her students present Scientific phenomena to the Primary aged audience. Both groups of children gained from the experience.

2. I connected with a group of educators and we collaborated on a term long program (10 weeks), teaching students “Conservation.” We used Antarctica as a Case study. Seven classes from four schools met one a week for 5 weeks while teachers used Google Hangout to explicitly teach the programmed content. We even crossed live to Casey Station in Antarctica as part of our study. Students then were given 5 weeks to collaborate in pairs to create their own case study on a conservation issue of their choice. These student directed projects are being uploaded on this: Eco-Warrior Challenge . We will be sharing class samples via Hangout in just a few weeks. Special thanks to Danni Foster-Brown,Greg SalernoNick Brierley and others.

What about Teachers?
The best example of using Hangout as a Professional Learning tool comes from two outstanding educators Eleni Kyritsis and Michael Ha who co-host the monthly ‘Teach Tech Play’ show online. Each episode the hosts invite educators to chat about education and champion an ‘edtool’ that they find useful, which other teachers may benefit from hearing about.They use Hangouts and have created a wonderful resource that all teachers should check out!

One of the secret bonus’ to using Hangout is the extra tool- ‘broadcast on air’

This extra feature allows you to live stream the video footage to both your youtube and google + accounts. This is what the Teach Tech Play utilised so well!

In a more interconnected world, Hangouts provide a user-friendly web tool that allows teachers and students to connect and collaborate effectively. Put simply, this action in classrooms is definitely the way forward in my opinion.

About The Author

Primary & Executive Teacher
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Founder #aussieED | Primary Teacher – 1:1 Educator | Google Certified Teacher | Speaker | Committed to turning Ed Theory into real classroom practice

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