How to Use Hangouts in the Classroom

How to Use Hangouts in the Classroom

Google+ is the currently trending social media platform which is being exceedingly used by students, educators and other professionals for a variety of purposes.

It has many valuable features like Hangouts, Circles and Sparks which can be widely used for

educational purposes by students and teachers. Google Hangouts is a web-based tool created by Google for communicating through video. It allows one-to-one as well as group communications, allowing up to 10 people to connect at the same time. It has been gaining popularity particularly among educators and social media users. It provides new possibilities for students to connect in and beyond the classroom.

Google Hangouts offers a lot of distinctive and useful features like, integration with other Google services like YouTube, Gmail and Calendar and if you have a Google account then it automatically creates you a Google+ account. Google Hangouts can be recorded or streamlined live on YouTube using a generated link. It offers better image and audio quality than other popular video-conferencing tools like Skype. It also supports add-ons such as emoticons, doodle, chat and more.

Teachers can start using Hangouts simply by setting up a Google+ page and signing up for the Hangout feature. They can conduct virtual classrooms at a number of places; it allows a teacher to teach up to 10 classrooms at the same time. It makes classes interactive and students can ask questions whenever they want. They can use it to connect their classroom with other classrooms or to connect their students with experts across the world, providing them with connected learning experiences. There are many ways in which teachers and students can derive benefits from using Hangouts in the classroom.

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Here’s a list of some ways to use Hangouts in the classroom:

Broadcast and archive live lectures: If you are unavailable to deliver a lecture in the class, you shouldn’t let your class miss out on the learning which was scheduled to take place during that particular lecture. You can present the lecture on Hangouts wherever you are and broadcast it live to your students. It is as good as your physical presence in the class. Students can see you and listen to you and can clarify their doubts at the same time. Moreover, Hangouts allows you to archive the live lecture and share it with others afterwards.

Share screens and demonstrate collaboratively: You and your students can share computer screens with each other to demonstrate key points collaboratively. It allows you easy access to your students’ computer screens to keep track of their exact work progress.For greater collaboration, you can use the Google Drive suite of apps. You can even discuss a YouTube video directly on hangouts and archive the interaction or discussion on a dedicated YouTube account for future reference.

Create live shows for broadcast: Students can create live shows featuring talks on the topics of your interest. They can create scripts, configure sets and modify camera angles to create lively shows. They can film the written scripts of the shows live on Hangouts. This way they can reach as many viewers as possible while connecting with other students and teachers globally to share ideas and make meaningful connections.

Converse digitally in groups or one-to-one:  For such conversations, Hangouts is a good alternative to Skype or FaceTime. Students can have discussions with their teachers about online videos, documents and more. Hangouts promotes conversation and because up to 10 participants can converse together at the same time, it facilitates collaboration in large groups as well. You can just drop in to see what’s happening; interact with the group and save the interaction to go through it later.

Create online portfolios: Teachers and students can create immersive online portfolios using Hangouts as it allows them to save and archive online interactions. A teacher can create a channel and then develop a repository of videos, work, and presentations that’s accessible to his students. By regularly saving work, students can have a digital repository of lessons which they can access anytime they want.

Use for professional development: Professional development sessions are made easier, more accessible, and even longer with Hangouts. Teachers can create live, on-air events using it. Teachers can take help of professionals around the world to get hold of professional development tips. They can converse live with these professionals to have an interaction at a personal level which has a greater effect on them.

There is also a new Hangouts feature called Hangouts on Air, using which teachers can record Hangout discussions for their students. They can also make themselves available to students after the class hours to connect on a more personal level. The Q&A app of Hangouts on Air adds more ways for more of students and different participants to collaborate in the Hangout which is a great thing if we want our kids to be connecting and collaborating with one another. You can use the Q&A app to do a Hangout in the classroom by connecting students of your class with each other and also to those of the other classrooms and experts. Students should be provided with tablets and laptops to participate and have their questions answered or asked using the Q&A app. They use the Q&A app to ask questions to whoever they are connected with. Things happen live and they can come up with questions and comments on the spot, making the Q&A app especially helpful.

There are a myriad of ways that Google Hangouts can be used to make learning more engaging and personalized for students and teachers. It makes a big difference for classrooms by connecting students to people outside of the classroom, and it can make regular communication and collaboration much easier for teachers and parents. Share with us more ways of using Google Hangouts in the classroom. The Comment Box awaits you.

About the Author
Author: Saomya Saxena
Educational technology blogger, loves to research and write about tools and tips for educators on how to integrate technology into everyday instruction creatively and effectively. Fond of reading and writing.

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