EdTech Tip: Preparing Students for Google Hangouts

By Monica Burns 05.19.2015 blog
Hangouts app on the Samsung galaxy display

Google Hangouts makes it easy to connect with people from around the globe, right from the classroom. Students who participate in Google Hangouts should be prepared for the experience. It is important that they understand their role, know when to chime in or sit back and have a few tips in their back pocket for troubleshooting technology issues.

What is a Google Hangout?

A Google Hangout is a web-based video conferencing tool that lets users connect with multiple people using their Google account. It can be used on a computer connected to the Internet or on a smart phone or mobile tablet with the Google Hangout app. The built-in microphone and camera on your device lets you hear and see the person you are talking to on the other line. Google Hangouts allow more than one person to join the call so a handful of people can be part of the conference even if they are in different locations. It gives users the ability to share their screen, type into a chat box, and easily show YouTube videos.

How do I use it in the education settings?

Teachers have used Google Hangouts in a variety of ways. A guest speaker can give a short talk in your classroom, students can interview an expert on a topic, or classes from across the globe can connect virtually. Google Hangouts make this work easier for teachers as they plan the logistics of bringing a visitor to their school. This tool also makes it possible to take students on virtual field trips to places and spaces too far away or simply unfeasible.

How do I prepare students for Google Hangouts?

No matter what type of Google Hangout is taking place in your classroom students should be prepared for the event. This can include:

  • Learning about a guest speaker: Before connecting with a speaker have students conduct research on their background or the topic they will speak about. This might include previewing their resume or previous work experience.
  • Preparing thoughtful questions: If a Q&A session will be part of your Google Hangout have students prepare questions ahead of time. You might ask your class to role play or share their questions.
  • Understanding how Google Hangout works: Take students on a tour of Google Hangout to show how it operates. Even if you will be the one behind the controls it is an opportunity to introduce them to a new technology tool.
  • Exploring a space or place: If you are participating in a virtual field trip via Google Hangout have students explore the location. This could be as simple as a Google Earth tour as a whole class or an assigned reading passage for students to complete the night before.
  • Learning greetings in multiple languages: Google Hangouts give students the chance to talk with people from around the world. If you are connecting with a classroom in another country, have students practice greetings in their native language.

Google Hangouts is a great tool for educators. Teachers can prepare students for these online events by making a plan that relates to their goals. Students can learn so much by virtually visiting places and speaking to experts in the field. With Google Hangouts the opportunities to explore the world and learn from others are endless!

Monica Burns is an EdTech & Curriculum Consultant and Apple Distinguished Educator. Visit her site ClassTechTips.com for more ideas on how to become a tech-savvy teacher.


  1. Jeanie Elder

    Is there a rule regarding the age of students who participate? Does the teacher need permission from parents?

  2. mcintosh10025

    i like pie.

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