If you don't know anything about Google Hangouts, they are similar to Skype--real time live chat to whoever you want to talk to in the world. But Google Hangouts provide for lots more than just a live chat. First of all, you can chat with a group of people. From what I understand, one Google Hangout can accommodate 7-8 people. At first I thought this was overwhelming but the talk that you can have with a group from all over the world is definitely a plus. I have had many conference calls in my life but to sit and see people and talk as if you are all sitting in the same room makes a difference in the thoughtfulness of the work.
There are also ways to work on a Google Doc together in a Google Hangout. So, if you are creating a proposal or a piece of writing or a presentation, the Google Doc can be shared in the hangout and participants can work on it live in the Hangout. It is easy to share Google Docs and other things from your screen directly to the Google Hangout.
I see huge potential for Google Hangouts with classrooms. Connecting a few classrooms for an event or conversation could be really powerful in helping kids see the connectedness and globalness of our work.
And then there are the "toys". The sound effects and props that are just plain fun. Katie DiCesare was at my house working on something a few weeks ago and so we visited a bit with Ann Marie via Google Hangout. Since it was new to us all, we played around with the props. For a very long time. The playing part was very fun and we realized Google Hangouts are not only great for professional work but great to just visit with friends who live far away.
|Ann Marie, Katie and I playing around with the props in a Google Hangout!|