The difference between a regular Hangout and a Hangout on Air is the ability for the latter to be recorded and then instantly uploaded to the linked YouTube account of the person who started the Hangout. By far one of the easiest ways to get content posted to YouTube. Each type of Hangout has its purpose. I love these two features of GAFE because as a digital learner, like many of my students, I am drawn to tools that help me make visual connections to the people I interact with. People who in the past were just an email address or too far away to make travel for “in person” interactions viable. Below are just a few of the ways I have used hangouts over the last few months.
Sometimes instructions for assignments are a little complicated or I don’t have a substitute trained in English education when I am slated to be away from school. Rather than pass out stacks of worksheets that accomplish little to nothing, I have students do exactly what they would if I were at school. I have used Hangouts on Air to record myself walking through the assignment for my students, sharing my computer screen to highlight key elements of an electronic document they have access to through Google Drive.
Hangouts are also ways to connect students in different classrooms. For World Read Aloud Day 2013 I joined with the elementary principal in my district to create connections between the high school students and elementary students to promote literacy in our district. As a combined district some of our elementary students are in a town 15 miles away, but we didn’t want to leave them out of the celebration. Instead of taking time out of the day's activities to travel between schools, we decided on a Google Hangout to share some reading time between seniors and students in our 3rd and 4th grade classes.
Profession Development for Teachers
Hangouts are also great places for professional development for educators. During a #nebedchat Twitter chat on Flipped Education one Wednesday night back in February 2013, another educator and myself started discussing how flipping a Language Arts classroom would work. We soon realized this was not a conversation for 140 characters! And monthly Language Arts Hangout was born out of that interaction. Every second Tuesday of the month several Language Arts teachers from all parts of Nebraska get together to discuss issues specific to the Language Arts classroom. It has been a great tool to bounce ideas off of each other and figure out what is and isn’t working in the Language Arts classroom across the state. We record the conversation using Hangouts on Air so that if others miss the chat they can still come back and watch if they want.