Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Using Google Hangouts in District 205

Google Hangouts (sometimes referred to as "GHO") is a great tool for helping your classes communicate with an authentic audience. Hangouts allows teachers to video chat with people outside of your school environment, allowing for virtual guest speakers, virtual field trips, and so on. And, since it's Google-icious, you can also share screens and Google Documents, etc., remotely as well!

This quick 1-min video will cover the basics of Google Hangouts if you've never used it before.

However, within our school domain, Google Hangouts is blocked from our student Chromebooks and also cannot be accessed via our public wifi connection, so using the combination of a desktop workstation & classroom display is your best way to access and use GHO in a whole-class environment. GHO may appear to behave a bit differently than some might expect at first, due to our filtering policies. So, here's a quick tutorial on using GHO to enrich your classroom.

Launch Hangouts

The easiest way to launch GHO is to type hangouts.google.com to open it directly. You might instead choose to go to the "waffle menu" in the upper right near your profile picture. If you don't see the Hangouts icon on the first screen (below left) click More at the bottom of the panel and check the next screen (below right). If it's still not there, click Even more from Google.

Start a video call 

Here's the first hurdle - when you start up you'll see "unable to sign in." IGNORE THIS - you can see your profile picture so you really ARE signed in - I don't know why this occurs but just ignore it and click the blue  Start Video Call  button.

Invite participants

Hangouts will load for a bit, then you'll see that you've started a Hangout that is restricted to "Community Unit School District #205 only..." But don't despair! Click the blue Change link to    Allow  people outside to join the Hangout!

Next, you can either type in an email address directly and click the green  Invite  button, or copy the link and email it to the other user(s) who will participate in the Hangout.

Going further 

This 5-minute video from The Google Gooru (now associated with BetterCloud Monitor) shows the basics of How to use Google Hangouts.

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