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How a community of educators meets online using Google Hangout with unlimited participants

Vance Stevens

EFL teacher and coordinator of Webheads in Action

HCT, Al Ain Men’s College, CERT, UAE Aviation College

Presenting from: United Arab Emirates

When? Tuesday Nov 19 1500 GMT; time where you are:


Writeup in progress:


Language: English

Target Audience:

All educators seeking to explore options for collaboration online with each other and their students

Short Session Description:

How a community of educators meets online using Google Hangout with unlimited participants

Full Session Description:

Learning2gether is a community of educators deriving from the Webheads in Action online community of practice (since 2002) and three biannual Webheads in Action Online Convergences, 2005, 2007, and 2009. Since 2010, Learning2gether has been an all-volunteer, wiki-based, open, and non-funded community, which meets weekly on Sundays around noon GMT. We host events in numerous free online spaces, including Blackboard Collaborate, made available to us as a grant from LearningTimes. Most recently, Google’s Hangout on Air has become a frequent choice of venue for presenters.

Webcasters find Google hangout compelling but it allows just ten participants to interact simultaneously with webcam and voice in the hangout itself. If invitations are issued to a group to join a hangout, the 11th arrival is told the hangout is full.  

This presentation introduces Learning2gether and shows how we overcome this limitation by using a web 2.0 space where the hangout is viewed and heard as it streams. This can be any space that will accept a YouTube embed, and in conjunction with an embedded Etherpad clone, the group can interact in publicly accessible audiovisual stream and text chat, and be notified when spaces become available in the Hangout so they can join it directly.

The presenter will explain how we set up this web 2.0 space to manage the hangout and enable participants to visit the space with their connected devices. The process entails starting a hangout and publishing its URL at the web space so that visitors can join. Only nine will be able to at first, so the moderator demonstrates how to embed the streamed YouTube recording in the web 2.0 space along with an Etherpad chat clone. Thus all participants will be either in the Hangout or listening to the stream, and all are able to interact in the Etherpad chat.

We discuss how this method serves to activate a blended classroom or collaborative space for teacher professional development for far more participants than are normally able to access a Google Hangout on Air, in such a way that no participant is left behind. The presenter will also show the kinds of interaction to be expected in four possible back-channel chat spaces: in the Hangout itself, in Google chat made possible by the fact that all participants are logged on to Google, in the Etherpad text space, and in the Etherpad display space while the session is in progress. A look at some differences in participant interaction in each of these spaces provides an interesting insight into some unexpected affordances of eliciting audience interaction while using Google Hangouts on Air.

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