Web-conferencing with Google Hangouts is a great tool for conferencing with colleagues, classmates, and students. It has more advantages than disadvantages to creating great communication with others around the globe.
I used Google Hangouts to discuss my group leadership project with my classmate Jenn. We scheduled a meeting time through email and met up in the hangout. It took a few tries to get started because we were having some problems with microphones and sound. Once we got started, we were able to record live on YouTube. It was awkward thinking about putting yourself having a casual conversation on YouTube. I kept wondering, what if my students found this! After we started recording, we began to talk about our project and which technologies we were going to use to teach our colleagues about flipping the classroom. We also decided which technology we were going to use to communicate the idea of flipping the classroom with our colleagues. Everything went very well, with only one surprising moment...I got to meet Jenn's dog and her mom! It was very nice to meet both of them!
We considered using Adobe Connect, Vyew, MS Live Meeting, and Google Hangouts. We decided to use Google Hangouts because we both felt comfortable using it and knew that it had great features like recording live on YouTube, chatting, capturing pictures, Google effects, and screen-sharing. While hanging out, we were able to use the recording live on YouTube feature, where we were able to share our hangout with our professors for their viewing. We also chatted, which was beneficial when we were having microphone problems and were not able to hear each other. We were able to talk through chat while we were resolving the problem. Both of us were unable to capture pictures because we were using Firefox as our browsers. This is a feature I would like to use in the future, so I may need to switch browsers. Since we were unable to use the capture feature, I took a screenshot of us on my laptop instead. We didn't use the fun Google effects because we were not able to capture pictures. However, we were able to screen-share, which was very valuable. We used it to look at the assignment together on Angel and while looking up different features on Edmodo. While screen-sharing, we noticed that our Edmodo accounts had different features, which would be important to bring up during a professional development meeting. Overall, we were able to use most of the features and I found them to be very helpful and think that they increased the communication between Jenn and I.
Next time, I would switch browsers so that I am able to use the capture feature and Google effects. Also, I would like to set up a reminder that goes to my iPhone to help me remember future meetings!
Google Hangouts can be used in so many ways in the classroom! You can schedule "homework help hangouts" where you can help students with their homework after school hours. Of course, you would need to this from home, but students could greatly benefit from getting live help on their homework. Students can also create "student hangouts" where they help each other on homework and they can use it if they are working on group projects. They could use it outside of the classroom if they needed extra help or need to work on the group assignments from home. For me personally, I could have hangouts with students where we speak Spanish! It could be for an assignment, practice, extra credit, or just for fun!
I will continue to use Google Hangouts in the future because I was very satisfied with the communication it provided for Jenn and I. I believe it really enhanced our communication about the project. I would also like to explore using Google Hangout with my students in the future!