I use Google Plus Hangouts a LOT. Most of my regular meetings around campus have adopted them, except for those in the library system. I’ve taught classes in hangouts, attended classes in hangouts, socialized, planned coauthored works, planned meetings, attended meetings, and even given conference presentations. Conference presentations ABOUT hangouts! In the picture you can see a hangout in which I was teaching origami to a friend (the famous @Tojosan). That was fun.
I’d love to use them even more. I’m really excited about the idea of using Hangouts on Air (HOA) to teach some of my library classes, because this would automatically create an archive of the class in Youtube for folk who couldn’t come, and would expand the audience. I would especially love to get this set up and working as a library workflow before Enriching Scholarship. I’m finding that people in some of the meetings I host are just a little bit nervous or shy about using hangouts. I suspect there are a lot of folk on campus who don’t work in the “geeky” departments who probably feel the same way. I’ve collected a little information here to try to help folk get over that initial hurdle, and will include some personal tips at the end.
Here is an overview.
How to Use Google+ (A Beginners’ Guide) by Peter McDermott
This next video is explicitly to help folk who are new to Google Plus Hangouts. Please note, people from University of Michigan, that your University of Michigan email account is a Google Mail account (unless you are in the hospital or one of the other rare programs that blocks selected Google features). This means that wherever Ronnie or Peter say “GMail” or “Google Mail” you can mentally replace that with your UM email account. It should word pretty much the same.
Account Setup for Google Plus Hangouts & HOA (Hangouts on Air) by Ronnie Bincer.
Ronnie posted his outline for the video in his Google+ account a couple days ago, with a LOT more information and links. Please note, the video is closed captioned (CC), so you can skim it without sound on if you work in a cube farm like I do. Also, if you look at Ronnie’s profile you’ll notice that he is a UM alum! Yay, Go Blue! And thanks, Ronnie, for doing this great work that still helps us out here.
How to setup accounts for Google+ Hangouts and Hangouts on Air (HOA)
0:00 – Introduction
0:17 – What are Hangouts?
0:41 – Two Main types, Regular and HOA
1:36 – Getting started with Account Setup (setting up Gmail)
2:53 – Starting with a Gmail Account, moving forward
3:40 – Adding a Profile Picture (no more ‘Blue Heads’)
5:19 – ‘Upgrade’ to Google+
6:24 – Inside Google+ and the ‘Home Stream’
7:18 – Start A Hangout (the first time – install stuff)
8:19 – Invite other people into a Hangout
8:41 – Hangout Interface Basics
10:07 – Getting Ready for HOA – Hangouts on Air
11:24 – Verify/Setup your YouTube account (required for HOA)
13:26 – Verified YouTube, Moving into the HOA Interface
15:04 – What comes next…
15:28 – What Hangouts can do for you
Next, here is my now dated overview (with partners) from Computers in Libraries last year describing ways Hangouts are being used for library types of functions and services, both by libraries and by patrons.
CIL 2012: Google Plus or Google Minus? http://www.slideshare.net/umhealthscienceslibraries/cil-2012-google-plus-or-google-minus
Now, just a moment to address a few of the reasons people here often give me for why they CAN’T participate in a Google Hangout, and why using hangouts excludes them.
Q1: My computer doesn’t have a video camera.
A: That’s fine. You don’t have to be on camera. You can either let tthe computer put up a blank gray square, or you can upload an image to use as a visual for you, or Google can use whatever image you’ve provided as your avatar. The important part is for you to be able to see others, even if they can’t see you. Yes, it is nice if you can participate more fully, but better to have you there partially than not at all.
Q2: My computer doesn’t have speakers and a microphone.
A: That’s OK. Do you have earbuds or headphones? Most computers these days have a way to plug in your iPod earbuds. If you can listen to what other folk are saying, you can still participate through the chat function. (See Q5) If you can’t hear or speak, you may want to contact the hangout organizer and ask for someone to transcribe highlights in chat. Also, please be aware that Google has added live captioning in support of folk who are deaf. It requires installing an additional piece, so check it out ahead of time.
Google+ Hangouts Add New Accessibility Feature: Live Closed Captioning (Video): http://www.deaftechnews.com/2012/07/08/google-hangouts-add-new-accessibility-feature-live-closed-captioning/
Hangout Captions: https://hangout-captions.appspot.com/
Q3: My computer can’t handle a Google Hangout.
A: There are computer labs all over campus with computers that CAN handle hangouts. Go to one of the labs and use a computer there. It is still probably closer and less hassle than going across campus or driving to another campus.
Q4: I don’t want people to see me. (It was raining, and I look like a drowned cat. Or I’m at home sick and wearing pajamas. Or this is a bad hair day. Whatever.)
A: Not a problem. Once you are in the hangout, there is an icon of a video camera. If you click on that, a slashed-circle icon appears over it. This shows that the video camera is turned off on your computer. You can still watch what other people are doing, and can see and hear what’s going on, but they can’t see you. For more ideas of how to make this work best for you, read Q1.
Q5: I don’t want people to hear me. Or I have laryngitis and they CAN’T hear me. Or I work in a place with a lot of background noise (or I’m in a coffee shop or place like that), and I don’t want to disturb those around me, or have the noise picked up and disturb those in the Hangout.
A: Ah, easy. Once you are in the hangout, there is a little icon of a microphone. Click on it, and a slashed-circle icon will appear over it, indicating that your microphone has been muted. Then, on the other side of the hangout, there is a tab that says, “Chat.” Click on that, and a chat bar appears to the side of the hangout. You can type what you need to say. This is also handy to take notes during the hangout, share links, or transcribe what’s being said for someone who is deaf. I recommend always opening the chat tab, even if no one seems to be using it. Afterwards, you can highlight, copy the chatlog, and paste it into a wordprocessor, and voila! You have notes without switching applications.
Q6: I’m not allowed to have a Google Hangout on my office machine. It isn’t part of my job. But they’ll allow me to attend meetings in person.
A: This is a two-part problem. The tricky part is that there is a policy issue going on. Either the manager doesn’t understand about hangouts, or there are some other reasons why you should not be doing this. You need to understand why the policy is in place. Is it a question of FERPA or HIPAA and handling private information? Is it a concern that you’ll distract coworkers from their duties? These are very different types of situations. If it is a question of not allowing access to certain types of information in your office or on your computer, you might be able to persuade your manager that you can handle the hangout responsibly by turning off mics and cameras. However, the best and safest choice might be to use a different computer. There are always the computer labs, if you need.
Q7: I don’t have the bandwidth for a hangout.
A: Well, that is a problem. You can have a hangout on wireless, but it doesn’t always work out well, and sometimes dumps you out of the hangout. This is frustrating to both you and the other folk there. Usually you can rejoin the hangout, but the best option is to find a computer that is on a wired connection. Other tips.
– Close as many other applications as possible.
– Just have your web browser open.
– Use Chrome.
– Close as many web pages and tabs as possible.
Other questions? Did I miss anything? Please feel free to add questions in the comments. Good luck, and have fun!