Tech Tuesday: Google Hangout


Screencasts | Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tech Tuesday: Google Hangout

Welcome to Tech Tuesday, where we take a look at a useful piece of educational technology and discuss some of its uses in the classroom and beyond.

Today’s Tech Tuesday will divert from its usual screencast approach (partly for technical difficulties and partly to try something new) to present Google Hangout. Google Hangout features a video chat, but it’s so much more than that, as you’ll see here. It’s an all-encompassing tool that lets you communicate with others and share important information and resources with them.

A Google Plus account is required, which is easily set up. Google asks you some basic questions, and the account can be set up in a minute or two. (Click on the image below to see the full-size image.)

Signing up for Google Plus


It’s also a good idea to have a webcam or some camera that can broadcast video connected to your computer. Google Hangouts can also be done via Internet-ready digital devices with cameras.

Once your Google Plus account is created, you’re ready to start hanging out. Find friends by entering information about them or their e-mail addresses. To hang out with them, use the “Start a hangout” button in the top right corner of Google Plus. Once you’ve started your hangout, you can add friends to it to invite them to join. (Click on the image below to see the full-size image.)

Add people to your hangout


Wait for those friends to join your hangout. Once you’re there, the fun begins! You can add up to nine friends to a hangout, and they all can interact in a variety of ways. The most common and popular is through video chat. (Click on the image below to see the full-size image.)

main hangout


With video chat, you can see the person you’re chatting with and can hear that person via a microphone. Google Hangout has controls (see top right in above image) to mute audio and turn off video if necessary.

Video chatting isn’t the only way to communicate, though. If a text-based message works better, use the chat feature. (Click on the image below to see the full-size image.)

Google Hangout's text-based chat


This text-based chat is available to all parties in the Google Hangout. It’s as simple as typing a message and hitting “enter” to send it to everyone in the hangout.

Need to show colleagues what you’re working on using your computer? Use the screenshare feature for that. Screenshare shows everyone in the hangout what’s on your screen. This is useful if co-workers need to see each other’s work. It’s also nice for friends to take each other through something step-by-step. (Click on the image below to see the full-size image.)

Google Hangout screenshare


Google Hangout offers several other features, including:

  • Recording a hangout for playback later using the “Hangouts On Air” feature
  • Adding fun effects to video, like pirate hats, applause sound effects and facial hair
  • Watching YouTube videos together with friends so you can comment and see their reactions
  • Sharing files saved to a Google Drive

Google Hangout tears down many walls of communication that have existed in the past. Of course, Google Hangout is free. Now, colleagues have fewer excuses not to interact. Teachers and students have a new channel of outside-of-class communication. Friends and family can see each other every day from far away.

How could you see Google Hangout being useful? What features are the best? Let us know in a comment below!

Also, please let us know about your preference on Tech Tuesday presentations. How do you prefer to learn about new technology resources: in text with screenshots or with a video screencast? Please comment below!

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