#1 I have recently been using this with a group of people who are interested in doing video conferencing. It seems to have most of the features of skype but is totally free. I give it a thumbs up! Check it out http://www.google.com/tools/dlpage/res/talkvideo/hangouts/
#2 I am also interested in your opinion on this:
I agree that Google hangout is an effective tool for web based video conferencing. I have experienced good picture quality and bandwidth. I think my only concern is whether students have the ability to use it in a controlled environment...and since I know that answer is no for the time being, I'm waiting patiently for that feature to be available for Google Apps for Education domains. Until then, schools with strict privacy controls may still be able to enocurage collaboration using these tools, but with teacher accounts and not students. And, while I'm unsure how the recent purchase of Skype by Microsoft will affect Skype's usability, right now both tools are pretty comparable (with the exception of being able to play a YouTube video together in a Google hangout session). I choose one over the other based on teacher comfort level (and whether or not they have an account).
I'm curious to hear your thoughts. In what ways do you think a teacher could use this tool to enhance a lesson? How can we, as technology integrators, encourage our teachers to extend their learning outside the classroom using a tool like this in a way that is purposeful and not overwhelming?
You are correct that teachers may have to do this themselves and that they may even be blocked. Districts may unblock that feature if they new how valuable these experiences are. For it to be included in Google Apps would be awesome. To be able to explore works of art and artifacts that connect to a study or concept in the classroom is something these students will remember forever. Can anyone suggest any other "free" videoconferencing tools they have seen or used in schools? Please feel free to share your experiences or maybe you have heard of other "cool" videoconferences/live tours for the classroom.
It has been a while since this thread as been active but I was wondering if anyone has been using hangout in the classroom. I just used it the other day to meet with some library committee members (no students - just adults) . We thought about skype but we really needed a venue to share a desktop. It worked great. Post any ideas for using hangout or any successes/obstacles. Inquiring Minds want to know....
OMG Susan, I use it to work with my teams across states, district admins use it to make meetings more productive (saves travel time and being online holds people more accountable - i.e. being on time, staying more focused on topic). Plus teachers are using it to communicate with each other during the day to share ideas across buildings. Of course teachers still use Skype in Education to skype with authors and experts but more and more I see the use of Hangouts as an easy way to connect (partly because it's embedded in gmail I think).