Google Hangout [Research]

“On August 24, [2005,] Google Talk was officially launched” (Wikipedia). I initially believed Google Talk was a good idea because it enabled users to take and receive phone calls from within Gmail. My school has moved over to using Gmail for all of our email and it would benefit us to try out this emerging technology. However, after careful research, I don’t believe it is a good idea in a K-12 educational setting because it doesn’t seem like the best tool for students to use in a classroom. Taking and receiving phone calls won’t work in a classroom (simultaneously) for many reasons; for example, the noise it would generate and ultimate distraction that would make it a classroom management nightmare.

“On April 20, 2012, Google announced that it was shutting down the mobile web app for Google Talk” (Wikipedia). Also, according to Wikipedia, Google saw the limitations (e.g. the inability to receive calls without additional software, et al). However, users would still be able to use the “native Google Talk app on Android or any XMPP-compliant apps on other mobile platforms” (Spring-cleaning). I think this was a smart move due to the rising popularity of its competitors: Facebook Messenger, iMessage, and WhatsApp. As stated before, Google Talk was a good idea for another way to collaborate, but the main challenge was how it would benefit users in an educational setting?

Google Hangout is the subsequent emerging technology in education. It has gone through a significant update since its inception in 2011. According to Klinefelter:

Google Hangouts replaced Google Talk, the update provides a number of features that make it more compelling as a mobile messaging app. Now, users get free group messaging and video chat, and Hangouts are cross-platform (Android and iOS).

This is what Google Talk was trying to do but served as a challenge.

Google Hangouts is an enhanced version of the ‘90s group chat rooms. Klinefelter states, a user can message over 35 of their friends on Hangouts without any problems. He also states the following:

However, the program doesn’t specify exactly how many people you can include in a group chat. More than 30 people exceeds WhatsApp’s cap of 30, but we wonder if Google can outdo Facebook Messenger’s limit of 250.

A few of the sources I found state that you can video chat with up to 10 friends.

I believe there are several benefits of this technology as follows: the availability of use and the benefit of being able to see things and interact with people that you wouldn’t be able to, remotely. Google Hangout has cross-platform availability. As aforementioned, this is revolutionary for an emerging technology. With availability on Android, iOS, PC and Mac’s this technology can be just about everywhere the user is. Take for instance in a classroom and at home for homework. A student can start something during class, collaborate with students throughout the rest of the day, and then work amidst their own schedules to do further research individually and collectively via messaging, video chats, etc.

As a challenge, I see that this emerging technology could serve as a distraction. While observing teachers and students alike, new technology brings a curiosity that tends to be off task and lack focus initially. While this may be a common challenge, I am sure that it won’t pose a major threat to the potential to learn and collaborate with this emerging technology.

In regards to various learner characteristics and developmental levels, Google Hangouts provides a variety of ways students may learn from a variety of individuals. In Mary Beth Hertz’s article she states the following:

For example, in that nationwide book club, authors can talk with numerous classrooms at one time. Scientists can speak to a wide audience of students about a relevant topic or event, or just to share their experiences as scientists.

Maybe a student needs one-on-one help with a paper or math concept? Or maybe a student doesn’t understand the way a teacher (or another student) explained a concept. With Google Hangouts that student can search through their contacts for people who might be able to explain it in a different way or have seen a Khan Academy lesson or Youtube video that makes sense to them. Google Hangouts provides this opportunity. “This student can now get one-on-one help after school through screen sharing, chat options, shared Google Docs and other features built into the Hangout” (Hertz).

According to Tom Standage, “new media-sharing platforms pose a particular danger to the young” [in the past and present as well] (Standage). While some people feel this way I do not. I recommend using Google Hangouts mainly for the limitless potential of learning that it provides. This new emerging technology will be second nature to most students who will have the opportunity to use it because of their social media savvy. With Facebook messenger, Facetime, Instagram, and Vine, today’s students crave a way to communicate and learn with media. Again, I recommend Google Hangout for an educational setting to enable students and faculty to enhance their learning potential.

 

References

“Google+ Hangouts.” Wikipedia. n.p., 24 June 2103. Web. 25 June 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google%2B_Hangouts>

“Google Talk.” Wikipedia. n.p., 22 June 2012. Web. 25 June 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Talk>

Hertz, Mary Beth. “How Educators and Schools Can Make the Most of Google Hangouts”. Edutopia.org. n.p., 1 Feb. 2013. Web. 25 June 2013. <http://www.edutopia.org/blog/educators-schools-google-hangouts-mary-beth-hertz>

Klinefelter, Molly. “Google Hangouts Review”. LaptopMag.com. n.p., 17 June 2013. Web. 25 June 2013. <http://www.laptopmag.com/reviews/software/google-hangouts.aspx>

Press Office. “U.S. Department of Education Hosts Google Hangout with African American Educators”. Ed.gov. n.p., 27 May 2013. Web. 25 June 2013. <http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/us-department-education-hosts-google-hangout-african-american-educators>

Schwab, Matthias. “Spring-cleaning … in spring!”. Googleblog.blogspot.com. Google.com, 20 April 2012. Web. 25 June 2013. <http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2012/04/spring-cleaning-in-spring.html>

Standage, Tom. “Social Networking in the 1600s”. NYTimes.com. The New York Times Company, 22 June 2013. Web. 25 June 2013. <http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/23/opinion/sunday/social-networking-in-the-1600s.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0>

 

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