Improving Google Hangouts

This year I’ve explored connecting classes via Google Hangouts. Students have really enjoyed having an authentic audience (another class) to discuss their reading and learning.

We’ve used Google Hangouts as a whole class. This format would work really well for connecting your class with an outside expert. There are multiple ways to engage your entire class even if only one (or a few) student(s) are on video in the Hangout. Those include using a backchannel or shared doc/site for audience participation/collaboration.

The more personal the Hangout can be, though, the more powerful. Engaging smaller groups of students can personalize the Google Hangout and greatly improve the experience. Note: Students under the age of 13 are not allowed access of Google Hangouts on their personal device (users must be 13 or older to use Google+).

In addition to smaller groups, students should have a clear understanding of what is (and what is not) effective communication. If students have been introduced to Speaking & Listening standards first, the Google Hangout is an excellent opportunity to practice and develop skills. Further breaking down the standard into learning targets, can allow students the opportunity to self-assess and get feedback.

Personalizing, giving a purpose, and providing explicit expectations for the Google Hangout will allow both teachers and students to get the more out of connecting with an authentic audience.

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