Inspired by Google’s presentation on ’31 Ways to Use G+ in Higher Education’ I’ve been experimenting with Google+ hangouts this summer. Thank you to everyone who responded to a call to help me do this!
I promised I’d blog to share the lessons I’d learnt and some recommendations over how careers services could use Google+…Based on three attempts to conduct careers adviser discussions, and one student group chat, this is what I’ve concluded.
Google+ Hangouts: 6/10
I’d use it again with professionals, and consider trialling a student-facing hangout around a significant topic/deadline/event (e.g. it’d be great to offer this drop-in and out style towards major closing dates for a sector).
- Free web chatting with up to 9 other people (like Skype, but without having to pay more)
- Schedule-able with a Google+ event
- Google+ event can be emailed to people not on Google+
- Can share weblinks etc. in text chat pane simultaneously
- Can ‘present’ a YouTube video, providing commentary (one button dims the video volume so you can talk over it)
- If you’re not there at the start of the hangout, people can still join and get started, come and go as they need.
- Google+ generally much less familiar and used than Skype by all audiences
- Sound and video quality can be a real issue
- Our own set up is usually to blame – it’s a known issue now that Google+ doesn’t support Logitech webcams (C310, C910, etc.) on Mac OS X 10.6.7 or earlier, or the Tascam US-144 and the audio chipsets Realtek ALC883 Audio Codec, Version 184.108.40.20613 and Conexant 20585 SmartAudio HD
- Need reliable net connection, updated webcam drivers, and working microphone
- Need microphone and speakers to not be too near each other (this causes an audible ‘echo’ for all participants). If in doubt, use a headset!
- Sound quality makes this a difficult medium to use with students with language barriers
Other lessons learnt:
- With students a clear ‘chair person’ can be useful, and with professionals, it might be useful to set a clear (if flexible) ‘agenda’
- Share notes online somewhere for those who got caught up in tech issues!
- Doodle (doodle.com) is a great free service to arrange a good time for everyone, but it doesn’t store email addresses, so you can’t automatically email all respondents to tell them what you’ve decided on!
- Instead, ask people to email you if interested, and take it from there.
- If they haven’t used it before, ask people to have some tech support on hand, and do a ‘trial run’ in house