Hanging out with Google
Interacting with Distance Learners using Google Hangouts
Senior Lecturer, Computer Security
|Objectives and Approach|
|The main need as identified by Helge was that as the number of Distance Learners being enrolled increased Helge became aware that they could become dis-connected from the attending students and he sought to find a solution to enable the Distance Learners to participate and interact in classes.
Helge trialled a number of software solutions and based on student feedback he settled on using Google Hangouts.
Using the screen share capabilities of Google Hangouts, a graphics tablet and a microphone, Helge creates a Hangout for each session via which he broadcasts his screen and audio and he is also able to annotate his slides using the graphics tablet. Only students who are invited to join the Hangout can do so and therefore a level of security is present.
Each of the Distance Learners will join the Hangout at the beginning of class and they will see Helge’s screen along with the annotations in real-time and hear his audio.
Students are also able, if Helge enables the feature, to talk to the class using their microphone and webcam. This feature is sometimes used for student presentations but Helge tends to mute the student microphones centrally and the students can then ask questions and interact using the Instant Message functionality that is built into Google Hangouts.
This use of technology has involved some students being required to set up a Google account in order to take part but such accounts are free and the students have fed back in a positive manner about the use of Google Hangouts. This is demonstrated in that students now initiate their own Google Hangouts outside of class in order to collaborate and support each other.
|By using Google Hangouts, Helge has achieved his goal of enabling the Distance Learners to participate in class. Students have fed back positively about joining Hangouts in order to see, live, what is going on in classes.
Helge also extended his use of Google Hangouts into the area of student presentations and he now expects the Distance Learners to present over the web to their attending peers via the Hangout. This helps Helge to overcome issues relating to authenticity when assessing student presentations.
|Looking forward, the only real inhibitor to Helge’s use of Google Hangouts will come if more than nine Distance Learners are enrolled as Google Hangouts can only allow nine participants to interact simultaneously.
For staff members wishing to replicate this good practice, there are a number of technical hurdles that may need to be overcome for both staff and students. These are included in the accompanying video and are outlined below.
To enable students to join a Google Hangout:
To enable staff to broadcast using Google Hangouts:
|CELT Case Studies|
|If you would like to have your ELT practices captured and disseminated in a similar case study, please contact your Faculty ELT Project Officer
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