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).

Pros: …

  • 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.

Cons:

  • 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 6.0.1.5413 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:

  1. With students a clear ‘chair person’ can be useful, and with professionals, it might be useful to set a clear (if flexible) ‘agenda’
  2. Share notes online somewhere for those who got caught up in tech issues!
  3. 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!
  4. Instead, ask people to email you if interested, and take it from there.
  5. If they haven’t used it before, ask people to have some tech support on hand, and do a ‘trial run’ in house
Advertisements