Google+ Hangouts Best Practices

Hangouts Logo

AEA 267 staff are quickly discovering the enormous benefits of using Google+ Hangouts to communicate with each other, either for those short 30-60 minute conversations to those 2-3 hour meetings.  For those of you not familiar with “Hanging Out” yet, here’s a little run down of Google Hangouts.

Hangouts are a video conferencing tool that is part of Google+. Some features that make it an indispensable tool include:

  • With Google Hangouts you can “Hangout” with up to 9 other people and chat face-to-face.
  • You can host a virtual meeting.  Google Hangouts allow you to share screens and collaborate on Google Docs, right within the Hangout.
  • Google Hangouts can be recorded and archived for distribution to others with Hangouts on Air.

As with any tool, there are some things to keep in mind regarding best practices:

  1. Honor other’s time and be punctual to the meeting.  If you haven’t been on a Hangout before, contact a colleague or one of the Google Trainers to test the technology out ahead of time.  Our AEA 267 Website has some tutorials to help you set up your Google+ account and how to initiate or participate in a Google Hangout.  If you are the facilitator of the meeting, start the meeting on time and end on time.  
  2. Don’t make distracting noise.  Avoid typing on your keyboard and turn off or quit applications (e.g email) that may make notification sounds. Also, silence cell phones and don’t text.
  3.  If wearing jewelry, be cognizant of the sounds that your jewelry makes .   When your jewelry hits your desk, the mic or your computer, the noise can be distracting and louder than what you realize on the other end.
  4. Mute your mic and/or camera if needed.  If you do need to take a phone call or someone comes to speak to you while on the Hangout, MUTE your mic and/or your camera.  Just because you aren’t talking with the group, they can still hear and see everything that you say or do.

    Mute Mic

    Mute Mic

  5. Eliminate background noise. If you are in a location with a lot of background noise, go to a room that is quieter.
  6. Maintain eye contact by looking into the camera.  Note what your picture looks like and adjust it so that everyone can see your face.  Avoid the “Wilson Effect”.

    Wilson Effect

    Wilson Effect

  7. Feedback can be the death of a meeting. The purpose of a video conference is to connect with people at-a-distance.  If you happen to be in the same place or room with someone that is also in the same Hangout, note that your computer’s mic will pick up everything, including the sound coming from another’s computer.  This will create feedback that can be annoying to others in the group.  Some options to consider when sharing the same physical location:
  • Option 1: Use one computer with a projector and speakers.  Make sure that everyone sits close enough to the computer so that the computer’s mic can pick up everyone speaking.
  • Option 2: Each person uses their own computer, but uses headphones with a mic.  Make sure that the sound is coming through the headphones and the mic is working.  People in the room may have to spread out so that the mics don’t pick up other’s voices easily.

Missed Digital Learning Day??

Screen Shot 2013-02-07 at 12.55.17 PMWow….had a great day of learning yesterday! AEA 267 and Grantwood AEA partnered to provide short (10-20 minute) webinars on 17 different topics, from Advanced Google Search to a variety of iPad apps.  With over 100 participants throughout the day!   If you missed it, don’t despair!  All the webinars were recorded and available via the Digital Learning Website or via the links below.

 8:00am Session 1     Stacy Behmer  Sweet! You can research and cite within a Google Docs!
 8:30am Session 2     Kay Schmalen  Chrome extensions you can’t live without!
 9:00am Session 3    Jonathan Wylie  I need “Smore” ideas for the classroom! Using
 9:30am Session 4   Michelle Cowell  Social Bookmarking is still where it’s at! Rediscover Diigo
 10:00am Session 5     Jonathan Wylie/Stacy Behmer
 Keep students alert and on-task with
 10:30am Session 6     Kay Schmalen Free and easy Photo Editing Tools- Pixlr and PicResize
 11:00am Session 7     Tony Amsler  Flubaroo – Auto Correct your Google Forms Using Flubaroo.
 11:30am Session 8     Jonathan Wylie Ask3: A free collaborative video discussion app for iPads
 12:00pm Session 9     Tony Amsler
Behind the HangOuts!  How We Put This Event Together Using Google+ On Air HangOuts
 12:30pm Session 10     Deb Versteeg  The National Archives – interactive learning activities using primary source documents
 1:00pm Session 11     Julie Freed  Built-in iPad Accessibility Features for ALL Students
 1:30pm Session 12     Brian Unruh  Get more from your Google Search with easy “Advanced” tips 
 2:00pm Session 13     Clair Judas The web in your Pocket. Collect articles & web pages to read anytime on any device.
 2:30pm Session 14     Michelle Cowell
 Meograph: Four-Dimensional Storytelling
 3:00pm Session 15     Stacy Behmer  Can you hear me now? Using Google Voice to collect Audio!
 3:30pm Session 16     Brian Unruh  Assessing students with Socrative App and Website 
 4:00pm Session 17     Deb Versteeg  Get real-time feedback from students using Poll Everywhere


Digital Learning Day

Mark your calendar for Wednesday, February 6th, National Digital Learning Day!  AEA 267 and Grantwood AEA are excited to announce that we are collaborating to provide a series of mini-webinars starting at 8:00am.  Each session lasts 15-20 minutes and there are topics for everyone!  Ranging from Google Apps tools to free Web 2.0 tools!

There is no charge for the sessions and all you need to participate all you need is an internet connection!  All sessions will be hosted the AEA Digital Learning Day site using Google Hangouts.

For more information and a list of session topics check out the Digital Learning Day website.  Resources and a reminder will be sent to you by pre-registering for the sessions you plan attending.

If you have any questions about this day, please contact one of the presenters:

AEA 267
Clair Judas 
Kay Schmalen
Brian Unruh
Deb Versteeg

Grantwood AEA
Tony Amsler
Stacy Behmer
Michelle Cowell
Jon Wyile
Julie Freed

Digital Learning Day is sponsored by the Alliance for Excellent Education its purpose is to provide opportunities for students and teachers to share and learn successful classroom practices across the country.

Student Engagement and Technology

Ok, so each student now has a device to access the Internet 24/7, teachers and staff have been and continue to be trained on how to effectively use and integrate technology, and a plan is in place for the future. Now for the real question.  Do you know if technology is making a difference in students’ learning?  Dr. Jerry Valentine from the University of Missouri and one of the developers of the Instructional Practices Inventory-Technology, poses three critical questions:

  1. Are we using the technology we have on a regular basis?
  2. When we do use technology, how is the technology being used?
  3. When used, are we doing so in a manner that deepens student thinking and learning?

The IPI-T builds on the basic IPI process to help answer these questions.  The technology component was developed so “school faculties can study student engagement using the basic IPI process and gain additional insight about the use of various forms of technology and the types of engagement present when technology is being used.” IPI-T Component Overview- Jerry Valentine

The IPI-T process looks at how technology is being applied in the classroom.  E.g. Are students using the technology tool for word processing, interacting with a commercially developed program or developing media? This information, coupled with the information collected from the basic IPI, provides a system-wide look at how technology is being used to support student learning.

AEA 267 will be hosting Jerry Valentine in both IPI training and IPI-T training.  (IPI training is a perquisite for IPI-T training.  IPI training will be held at West Marshall in State Center, IA on January 30th from 8:00am- 4:00pm.  IPI-T training will also be held at West Marshall in State Center, IA on the following day, January 31st from 8:30am-4:30pm.

Sign up for both days are on the AEA 267 PD system.  Cost is $160 for IPI and $190 for IPI-T.  (No credit is given for either day.)  Districts are encouraged to send team of teachers to learn the processes to go back to the district and practice the data collection instruments.

Welcome to Tech Spots!

Welcome to Tech Spots!

This week’s Tech Spot topic is on Mobile devices.  Students have a variety of mobile devices at their fingertips.  Here’s a little “cheat” sheet from Edutopia and S. JHOANNA ROBLED, that breaks down these mobile devices and how they can be used in the classroom.  (Download the entire article- Mobile Devices for Learning: What You Need to Know)

Cell Phones
The simplest of them all but still fairly powerful. They can be used for group discussions via text messaging, and since so many cell phones have cameras, they are useful for photography-based projects as well. Students can also record themselves reading stories aloud for writers’ workshops or practicing speeches.

E-Book Readers
Their fundamental function, of course, is for reading books and storing entire libraries. They also provide easy access to dictionaries. Many students also use their e-book readers as a replacement for the daily paper, since they can read various editions and magazines on it. Well-known brands include Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s Nook.

Free lectures and short videos are available for downloading via the iTunes U app, or on the Internet at sites such as, which has animated educational videos. Apps can also be downloaded onto the devices and many are equipped with cameras students can use to shoot and to post to a website. Read the Edutopia blog “iPod, iListen, iRead” to learn more about how these devices are used to help students master reading.

Apple’s iPad, the Kindle Fire, and the Galaxy are just a few models of tablets, and they can do anything e-book readers can do and then some. Downloadable apps, many educational, make these machines nearly comparable to computers; you can surf the Web, play games, watch (and even make) movies, as well as take photographs. Many schools have started purchasing tablets for the K-5 crowd, though they’re plenty useful for older students, too.

The older the students, the more likely they are to be wielding one of these. Like tablets, smartphones have many computer-like functions. (They’re also phones, of course.) They can run apps and software, record audio and video, send and receive email and texts- functionalities that can easily be channeled into classroom inquiry.

“New Guide! Mobile Devices for Learning: What You Need to Know.” Edutopia. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Nov. 2012. <>.