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Virtual Learning 101: Google Hangouts

As schools are shut download during the covid-19 pandemic, what are our students supposed to do? Closing schools and transitioning to online learning is critical to stymying the spread of the virus, but the transition won’t be easy.
So, remote learning is the way to go. Personally, I have been using blended learning and flipped classroom techniques for a few years now, so I will be sharing some of the tools I have used with my students…starting with Google Meet (Hangouts). It is a great tool to engage students in collaboration outside of the classroom. It overcomes geographical barriers and ensures learning continues.
So how can Google Hangout/Meet help you?
If your students have a computer or mobile device with internet access, you can continue instruction over video using Hangouts. You can record lessons and share them with students, livestream to large groups, or host live meetings with up to 50 participants, without any time limit. It also gives you the ability to record meetings and save them to Google Drive (for assessing at a later period).
Google Meet works best using the current version of Google Chrome. Meet also works with the current versions of Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge and Apple Safari.

There are two ways to start a Hangouts but If you are regularly meeting with your class, I recommend using Google Calendar to create regular meeting times.


Navigate to your Google Calendar.

The Google Calendar is circled.

To create a new meeting, click the Create button in the bottom right or top left of your screen (depending on your phone).

Fill in the details of the event i.e. what you want the meeting to be called, the date and time of the meeting, etc.

Event Page on Google Calendar

Click the “Add location or conferencing” field and then click “Add conferencing” to enable Hangouts.

The Hangouts will automatically be loaded after clicking ‘Add Conference’

This will automatically generate a meeting link. Please note that you will not ‘see’ the link but it has been created and will be sent to your students’ email addresses.

In the “Add guests” (or Add People) field, begin typing the email address or contact name of the student(s) you want to invite to the Hangout.

When all fields are completed, click “Save” to schedule your Google Hangout and send invites to your students. Your meeting will be saved to your calendar and shared with your students.

This is how your students’ invite will look like in their emails.

Please Note the following:

Your students do not need a google account to receive to a Google Calendar event. They will receive a link to their email account. You, the teacher, needs a google account.

Students can also use their phones or laptops to join the Google Meeting.

Students joining into a Google Hangout will arrive at a splash screen where they can set their audio and video options before joining the call.

Cameras and audio settings will automatically be turned on.

Notify your students of this ahead of time and establish protocols for meeting etiquette.

It is recommended that students mute their microphones before joining a meeting and to keep them muted unless they are speaking.

Microphone/Disconnect/Video Camera Icons

Users can toggle audio on or off by clicking the microphone icon (first icon) in the bottom toolbar.

Video can be turned on or off by clicking the camera icon (third icon).

Disconnect from the call by clicking the phone icon (middle icon) .

Utilize Google Hangout’s chat feature on the right-hand side of the screen (laptop) to quickly write down an agenda that everyone can reference. It doesn’t have to be detailed, but it can act as a cue to keep everyone on track and focused. In general, just because you don’t have to physically be in the school for a lesson doesn’t mean you can slack off on preparations. After all, you still want your virtual classroom to run as quickly as possible.

Many people aren’t aware that a couple of icons can be a lifesaver in a meeting, especially if you’re trying to make it go as quickly as possible.

See that little microphone icon? That’s a mute button. Use it if your surroundings are noisy or if you’re typing something while others are talking. It’s a great courtesy to the other people in your Hangout.

Additionally, if you’re in a meeting where you’re all trying to look at a document or webpage at the same time, use Google Hangout’s screen capture option (laptop). I’ve been in too many Google Hangouts where a ton of people are all trying to look at the same webpage on their own computers (and thus, not actually paying attention to the Hangout), and in those situations, this is a godsend.

Just remember that you need to allow Google Hangouts to access your phone or your computer’s camera and microphone when you set it up, or the program won’t function properly.The link to the video call will be included in the meeting invite your students receive (in their email). When the meeting time arrives, all students will simply click this link and begin chatting through their screen cameras (or not if they don’t want to be seen) and built-in audio.