18 Amazing Examples of G+ Hangouts in Education

by Staff Writers

While web conferencing is nothing new, Google+ Hangouts is taking it to another level and making it simple for people to connect, learn, share ideas, and collaborate through online resources many already use. One of the most exciting places where Hangouts is making a splash is in education, where teachers, experts, students, and creative minds are using the application to transform the learning experience of people around the globe. Read on to learn about some of the most innovative and interesting ways G+ Hangouts is already being used in education, creating a rich foundation for even more exciting applications in the future.

  1. Live cooking classes: Lee Allison thought that Google+ Hangouts would be a great tool for hosting a live cooking class. He was right. His Google+ Cooking School was so popular that he decided to launch a dedicated online cooking school called The Social Skillet. Allison isn't a chef (he's a tech consultant) but he and his friends are avowed foodies who've found a way to share their passion and knowledge about food with others using the Google innovation.
  2. Helping college students find employment and internship opportunities: DePaul students got a unique opportunity to connect with Google University's programs manager, Davidson Young, and Google recruiters through a Google+ Hangout. In February 2012, computer science and information technology majors got a chance to get online and chat with these Google insiders, letting them know more about working for Google, internships the company offers, and potential jobs for new grads.
  3. Talking with the president. Google+ Hangouts doesn't just let you chat with your friends, family, and classmates. It can even be a potential avenue for connection with our current POTUS. In January, President Obama participated in his first online hangout event, where he spoke with five Americans from across the U.S., answered questions from YouTube videos, and gave insights into his stance on major public policy issues. While everyone won't be able to connect with the president, this may be the first of many online events held in this forum that can make it easier to connect everyday people with their lawmakers and leaders.
  4. Conducting a Q and A with remote guests. Sandra Fish and Tom Yulsman put Google+ Hangouts to work in their University of Colorado classrooms this year. The instructors used the online application to conduct a Q-and-A session with two remote guests, two alumni who now work in journalism. The experience was designed to give students a look into what it's really like to work in the field and to help them figure out how to best meet their career goals. Students and instructors alike felt the project was a great success, and it could become a way to more easily connect students with experts and advisors in almost any field.
  5. Hangout office hours. You don't necessarily need an office to hold office hours these days. Many professors are using the Google+ Hangouts technology to hold office hours online, letting students remotely log in to ask questions and get feedback. And it's not just everyday professors who are getting in on the act. Learners can also connect with people like Salman Khan (of Khan Academy) and Stanford professors Peter Norvig and Sebastian Thrun to ask questions about their online content and practices as well.
  6. Remote music lessons. Can't find a music teacher to come into your home to teach you? Want to learn from an expert who doesn't live nearby? Google+ Hangouts is making it possible. A number of music teachers are now using the site to connect with students, offering up lessons on a wide range of instruments. Live sessions can be a great way to showcase practice but teachers can also prerecord lessons for students, schedule multi-student lessons, or even hold online workshops to improve specific skills.
  7. Foreign language learning. One of the best ways to improve language skills when you're learning a foreign language is by having conversations with native speakers. A growing number of language learners are doing just that, but not face-to-face. Conversations are taking place online over Google+ Hangouts, allowing for language exchange between those who want to try out their skills.
  8. Discussing education policy and progress. Google+ Hangouts is an excellent resource for those who want to participate in web conferences, webinars, and other educational discussions. There are a large number of hangouts that educators can take part in, but every Wednesday night at 8 p.m. EST they can join in on EdHangout's discussions on the future of education. This is just one of many regular meetups that can help educators (and students) learn more about where education is headed and what role they can play in facilitating changes for the better.
  9. Reader discussions. Reading is by and large a solitary activity, but sharing your thoughts on a book, article, or topic doesn't have to be. In November of 2011, New York Times contributors Sam Grobart and Jenna Wortham joined in a discussion with readers about technology (which is their area of expertise as tech writers and editors). The hangout was an experiment, the first of its kind in the paper's 150+-year history, to see how the newspaper could make the most of the service. Over the course of 30 minutes, the writers talked with more than 80 people who shared feedback and suggestions. The paper is planning several more sessions throughout 2012, allowing people to connect with some of the most well-known journalists the paper employs. This use of G+ Hangouts could also be a great way to let readers connect with authors, other fans, or anyone who wants to share ideas about writing.

  1. Learning about things behind the scenes. Have students who are interested in a career in broadcasting? Head to G+ hangouts! In August of 2011, KOMU-TV (an Australian station) used the service to give viewers a peek into the backstage goings-on at their studio, from prepping the anchors to be on air to showing the workers in the control room. This, and other uses like it, could be amazing learning tools for students who are struggling with choosing a career path or to supplement lessons on a particular line of work.
  2. Teaching yoga and meditation. You can now take live yoga classes or participate in guided meditation sessions with the help of G+ Hangouts. Yoga teacher Danielle Herman was one of the first to bring yoga instruction to Hangouts, holding her first successful course in July of 2011. Since then, many other online yoga meetups have sprung up, connecting yogis from around the world. It's a great tool for the fitness enthusiast but could help to calm and focus students in a classroom as well, where yoga and meditation practice has been found to produce great results in a wide range of studies.
  3. Listening to new music. Want to head to a concert but don't like the crowded, standing-room-only vibe? You may find something more your style through the growing numbers of concerts being held on G+ Hangouts. Artists like Daria Musk are using it as a forum to release new music and showcase their talents, while others may find amazing renditions of classical songs, jazz piano, or opera more up their alley. These opportunities can be a great learning tool (not to mention entertainment tool) for those who want to learn more about music or just enjoy a culturally enriching experience.
  4. Getting feedback on projects. Critiques are a dreaded part of any art school education, but what if you could get feedback online before you ever bring your project into class? These kinds of critiques are already taking place online, between students and professionals who want to hone their skills as much as possible. For example, photographer Frank Doorhof hosted a Google+ Hangouts crit in early 2012, bringing together photographers and their images for a chance to get some feedback on ways to improve and share their work.
  5. Collaborative problem solving. Students and professionals alike can benefit from the ability to work together on a project through G+ Hangouts. One example of this happening in recent months is a 2011 Chrome extension hackathon, hosted by several programmers. These coding experts hoped to be able to create a Chrome extension that allows users to play a collaborative game while in Hangouts. This is just one of the many ways that Hangouts can bring people together to solve a common problem, and can be a great place to unite writers, scientists, and businesspeople towards a common purpose, with everyone learning a little something in the process.
  6. Study groups. One of the more common uses of G+ Hangouts is for study groups. With students who may have busy schedules or not live on campus, it can be hard to meet up at a set time to study together. Hangouts solve that problem by letting everyone tune in from wherever they are. Need an example? Students in Stanford's Natural Language Processing Class have regular study sessions online, held once a week, where students can review material and look over the course schedule together.
  7. Cross classroom meetups. Miles become irrelevant when using the web, something that could help classrooms across the country (or across town) connect with one another. Early in 2011, D.C.-area middle school librarian Gwyneth Jones used G+ Hangouts to teach students in a second-grade classroom in Arizona about QR codes. With videos, audio, and interactions with the students, the project let not only the librarians but also students, who created their own QR code projects to share, interact across the miles and have experiences they wouldn't have otherwise gotten to have.
  8. Interaction with students. UNL professor Ari Kohen is making use of G+ Hangouts in his political science courses, helping students continue discussions and get help outside of set class hours and the campus setting. Kohen moved out of town when his wife got a new job and wanted to keep up his tradition of meeting with students without having to bear a long commute. Hangouts solved this problem, and let him continue talking with students on a weekly basis. He also plans to use the site for test review sessions in future courses.
  9. Writing groups. Writers work alone, but they don't have to. In fact, getting feedback from other writers can be a big help in improving and refining a written work. Many writers are now taking to Hangouts to connect with others, scheduling regular hangouts where writers can give feedback and support each other. Some even write while in the hangout, then discuss what they've written. There are a wide range of ways G+ Hangouts can be used for this purpose, and even grad students who are struggling through a thesis may find it helpful.