Starting on August 31st, changes to the Google Hangouts Chrome Extension will be made to make the Chat Feature a bit more user friendly. These changes will become the default view for new users. If you are a new user, you'll find that the extension will make the chat feature easy to use, as well as easy to manage when viewing multiple conversations. If you are an existing user, you'll have the opportunity to opt in to the new features, or stay with the current interface.
This is much like the experience users have had with Google+ over the past year. Speaking of Plus, Google announced earlier this week, that the New Google+ interface is now the default option, but if you still want to use the old interface, you can by clicking Back to the Classic Google+
Now, all that being said, if you are a new user to these tools, they can be very powerful tools! Here are a few things to think about when using each tool.
Google Hangouts -
- Virtual meetings - use hangouts to have a meeting - chat or video - without leaving your office.
- As a collaboration tool - use the chat feature to take notes during a virtual meeting.
- Virtual Field Trips - turn conversations into video calls.
- Co-Teaching - Use Hangouts to present to two classes at once with a co-teacher. Next door, or across the country.
- Chat as a group - you can chat with up to 10 users on a free account, or more with a GAFE account.
- Present during a Virtual Meeting - Share your screen during a video call.
- Share your Interests - Create a collection, as a class or individual project.
- Create Communities - Use Google+ communities to collaborate, share, and ask questions. As a department, school, or district, this is a great way to keep everyone on the same page during a transition to GAFE.
- Your own Personal PLC - follow people, communities, and collections on a wide array of topics. Check your feed and use it as your own professional learning community. Or maybe share you knowledge with others.
As with all Google tools, the mindset is that each tool in its own way lends itself to greater productivity, whether for work or school. But don't just use them yourself - remember students can use these tools for projects and lessons. Try some of these features as you start the new school year.