Tuesday, April 26, 2016

You Wanna Hangout?

With the district switching to using the full Google Suite for its communications next year, Google Hangouts may be the tool you need to take your conversations to the next level. Google Hangouts is a way people with Google accounts can communicate via simple message, audio or video, all over wifi.

One of the primary uses for Hangouts in schools is the video feature. Essentially, Hangouts creates a video conference with anyone in the world that has a computer with a camera and a microphone (all of the district Chromebooks do) a Google account with Hangout permissions turned on (all of the WCS staff do), and wifi (all of the WCS buildings do). Teachers have been using this feature to bring in experts from around the world to their classroom without the need for travel. Teachers can also use this feature to collaborate inside or outside of the district with other teachers, exponentially expanding their PLNs. Instead of scheduling a meeting in one of the buildings after school, why not simply set up a Hangout, and teachers from around the district can "meet" right from their own classrooms!

Here are just a few examples of how teachers are using Google Hangouts:

Another cool feature of Hangouts is the instant message feature. Currently, some teachers use the instant message feature of Groupwise to communicate to other staff members in their buildings and around the district. This feature is currently available on the desktop computers inside WCS. Hangouts takes this capability to the next level. Hangouts is associated with your Google account, so any device that you are logged in to will have access to send messages to other account holders. This by itself is not much of an improvement from the Groupwise Instant Messenger. But since this is a Google product, it is also available on Chromebooks, as well as mobile devices! [iOS/Android] This means that as staff members move around the building, communication can still be happening, instead of sending an email and waiting for that person to return to their desks. Using Google Hangouts combines the communication tools of email, instant message, and text messaging all in one account, across multiple platforms, with everyone inside of the WCS domain.

Google Hangout messages can also be accessed inside of Gmail! Start using Google Hangouts today, you won't regret it!

Looking for someone to "hangout" with? Join the Google+ Hangout Community!

Note: In the Westerville City School District domain, staff members have access to all features of Google Hangouts, however these features are currently blocked for students.

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