‘Hanging out’ with Macmillan

14-Oct-2013

Ahead of the 2013 Macmillan Online Conference, our Digital Marketing Executive (and resident webinar whiz) Henry gives an insight into our wide range of online events at Macmillan Education. From teacher training webinars to using Google+ Hangouts, this series of blog posts offers basic tips and strategies to help teachers in ELT wishing to take part in, organise or run similar online sessions in aid of their own professional development. 

An introduction to Google+ Hangouts

Google+ may not have eclipsed Facebook as some people first predicted, but it’s starting to take off due to the popularity of its Hangouts. At Macmillan, we’ve been using Hangouts to supplement our popular webinar programme, adding another opportunity for professional development to our varied calendar of online events.

If you’re unsure what a Hangout is then think of it as an advanced version of Skype!

Hangout screenshot

A Macmillan Hangout in action. The participants you see at the bottom of the screen were able to speak up and put questions to our host, Mike.

So what are the advantages?

The new ‘Hangout On Air’ feature means that Google+ Hangouts can now be streamed live on your YouTube channel. This helps overcome the main limitation of the platform, which restricts the number of users who can take an active part in a Hangout to just ten people. So now, even if you’re not one of the lucky ten participants to make it into the Hangout discussion room, you can still watch a live video feed of the conversation and view what’s being discussed in real-time.

Viewers of the live Hangouts can be encouraged to engage with the discussion by posting questions to the host through social media, which can then be incorporated into the line of conversation within the Hangout. Once the Hangout’s finished, there’s also a recording of the whole session available to view again via your YouTube channel too.

One of the things webinars can lack is a sense of genuine interaction between the host and his or her audience. Often there are hundreds of people in the room, and there simply isn’t time to respond to the questions which flood in to the main speaker from the chat box. As a result, the talk can become more of a lecture.

While this is fine in certain circumstances, if you’re looking for more of an open forum discussion then Hangouts are a great alternative. They allow the audience to become active participants instead of just spectators, making for a more fluid and informal exchange of ideas as individuals pitch in to the conversation with their questions for the host.

Hangouts are incredibly simple to get started with too. There’s no need to purchase any expensive software, so at the click of a button you can bring teachers or pupils from across the globe together. All they need to take part is an internet connection, a Gmail account and a sense of humour! In addition, they’re flexible and needn’t be restricted to use just by businesses. For instance, as a teacher you could present to a class via a Hangout or even use them to keep in touch and share ideas with colleagues at your school or institution.

If you’re interested in using Hangouts and would like to see one in action then I strongly recommend attending the next Macmillan Hangout on Wednesday the 16th of October at 4pm UK time, when Mike Hogan will be presenting on Feedback in ELT.

Full details of how to register can be found on the Macmillan Education Google+ page.

In the meantime, why not watch the trailer for the Hangout here:

Hopefully see you there!

Henry

Henry

Read more in the series:

A Practical Guide to Google+ Hangouts On Air: Part 1

A Practical Guide to Google+ Hangouts On Air: Part 2

 

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