One of the features of Google+ is having a ‘Google Hangout‘, which is very similar to Skype. However the added value is that it is free for you to hang out with up to 9 people and have a private discussion or meeting AND be able to see each other. Using Skype for a group chat you can only hear each other unless you subscribe to the premium option.
The other feature is Google Hangouts on Air. This allows you to have a group conversation in the same way but it is opened to the public to view and listen in to. The hangout is also automatically recorded and uploaded to YouTube. This provides unlimited opportunities to share public conversations, debates, Q&As etc. Below are just a few examples of some Hangouts on Air.
President Obama Hangs Out With America
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Before using Hangouts for the first time, Google make the following recommendations:
- Check out the system requirements to make sure you’re using a supported browser and operating system, and that your processor and bandwidth are sufficient.
- Download and install the latest version of the plugin.
- Make sure you have the latest drivers for your webcam.
- For the best video quality, make sure you’re well lit from a light source that’s coming from behind your camera. Webcams don’t work well in low light situations.
- Connect your head set to your device! Headphones with a built in microphone will dramatically improve your Hangout experience.
To start broadcasting:
- Go to Hangouts.google.com.
- Give your Hangout a name and invite the people you want to join you in the Hangout.
- Select the option to Enable Hangouts On Air.
- Once everyone’s in the Hangout and you’re ready to go live, click Start broadcast at the top of the screen.
Once you click Start broadcast, you’re officially “On Air” and the public will be able to watch your live Hangout.
This website contains all the information you need to find and take part in Education On Air sessions on Google+:
- Live Hangout Schedule– List of upcoming live sessions and detail about how to register and participate
- Past Recordings– Videos and information about past Hangouts On Air recorded in 2012
- Presenters– Names, websites & contact information
- Social Media– Conference and session hashtags
- FAQs– Frequently asked questions
- Feedback– Your feedback on the conference
What the Plus! by Guy Kawasaki is a great start to get to grips with what Google + is all about. Whilst up there with the likes of Facebook and Twitter in terms of number of registered users, many still struggle to find how they can make the most of what it offers. Kawasaki refers to Google+ as the network where people can share passions, for example you may have friends on Facebook but on Google+ you could join a community sharing a special interest such as photography. This book is now available as a free PDF so take a look!
More information is available on my Google+ page