Dec 17, 2015

Hangouts Post II: Connecting to the World

The world is quickly becoming smaller, more connected, and eager to share.  Google Hangouts lets us bring that world into our classrooms and professional lives like never before!  Here are a few simple ideas for using Hangouts to broaden the horizons of your classroom.

Bring a Friend Into Your Classroom

Most educators have a friend of family member that has a specialty area or unique story/perspective that would be valuable in the classroom.  Maybe it's a sister who is a Veterinarian two states away, a college roommate who now works in Washington D.C., or a relative who fought in Vietnam.  It is a luxury to have these resources, but a luxury that can rarely be capitalized on because of logistics.  Using Hangouts, you can eliminate the distance between you and these resources and bring a friend into the classroom via video call.

Bring in the Experts

Many professionals from around the globe want to give back to an education community that gave so much to them.  Many of them simply go un-contacted and under utilized.  As one example, many young adult authors are happy to video conference free of charge with schools.  In fact, here's an organized list (note that these authors talk about Skype being their video conference tool of choice, but I'm sure that many know how to use Hangouts as well).  Just image what your students can learn when you bring in the author of the book they are reading, a scientist who researches the topic you are learning about, or a statistician who uses the math that is being taught (...okay, maybe a statistician isn't the best example, but you get my point)*.

Other great examples include a program by the Wildlife Conservation Society, which connects real world scientists and STEM mentors with students around the topics of sharks, whales, and eels, and The Nature Conservancy, who just hosted a virtual field trip entitled "China’s Great Forests: What the Giant Panda and Earth’s Climate Share".  These events can open the world to our students in ways that were never before possible.


I encourage you to head over to Google+ and search the Communities for people who are eager to conduct a Hangout.  For example, this Community is all about world languages, and teachers who want to connect themselves and their students to one another.  The main Google Hangouts in Education Community is filled with over 15,000 educators from around the world who are setting up connections between students and communities in exciting ways!

Sean Mullins | Instructional Technology Coach

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