Why I Have been Dabbling in Google Hangouts to Teach Students


My husband told me this day would come.  I knew it too.  3 years ago he said, “Don’t call yourself the Skyping Reading Tutor!”  He had good reasons for that too.  He said that systems were going to change and that one day I probably wouldn’t be using Skype anymore.  I took his suggestion to heart, but I also wanted to always remember where my roots began.  So even though I knew that I would probably change systems one day, I had no idea it would be quite so soon.

About a month ago I started becoming really familiar with Google plus.  I read What the Plus by Guy Kawasaki and he inspired me to also learn more about Google Hangouts.  One of the things he said in the book was, “Just play with Hangouts and see what you think of it.”


I met a lady at bible study whose daughter was struggling with reading and we decided to move forward and do the free assessment.  I took a risk and expressed how I was dying to try out Google Hangouts, and she agreed to try it out with me.  I knew there might be some hangups being that this was the first time I was trying it out, but I was willing to risk it.  We did have a few snags here and there, but we were able to work them out.  The assessment was completed, and I am still working with them as clients today.

I know that some of you are thinking what’s the big deal.  Well, you get really comfortable with the tool that you are using, and when things do happen, you find ways to compensate for them.  It is much harder to compensate when you are not familiar with the tool that you are using.

This whole situation has led me to try Hangouts with another customer, because I have fallen in love with Google Hangouts.  I have found it to be a remarkable tool for teaching kids to read.  What I am most excited about is it’s potential that it offers.  Here are the features that I am most stoked about.

1.  Screenshare

2.  Youtube

3.  Multiple people

Now the biggie for me is the ability to screen share.  That is how I teach my clients.  I share my screen, and they read from it.  I control all of the aspects of a session from my side of the world.  I work with some pretty young kids, and I don’t want the technology to hinder my ability to help out those that need my help.

Skype also has screen share, but it doesn’t have the next two features, which are youtube sharing and multiple people on a call at once for free.  Once in awhile I share Youtube videos with my students that help them learn different phonics patterns.  Google Hangouts has the capability for me to put the URL into the YouTube section, and we can both view the video at the same time.  This feature is AWESOME!!

Also, I have been planning on offering clients another session where kids from around the world can work on their fluency.  This means that we would have kids around the same level and then do our reading from reader’s theater scripts.  Since Skype makes users pay to have multiple people access, this hasn’t been something that I have moved forward with.  But now I am. This is a win-win for both my clients and the students.  I usually work with my students on a one on one basis, but now people that are already purchasing my services can purchase this upgrade and motivate their child to read even more.  My students have been begging me to meet other kids from around the world, and now one special group will get it’s shot.  It will be fun and exciting and I can’t wait to post the results from this venture on this blog.

So does this mean that I have completely moved over to Google Hangouts?  No, I am still in the dabbling stage.  All my 19 other existing students are still via skype.  I have no plans of switching them over.  But for now, I am enjoying all of the features that Google has to offer.

Have you tried out Google Hangouts or Skype yet?  If so, what was your experience like.

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  1. Joanne, I’m visiting from the UBC. I had forgotten how content-rich your posts are! And today you’re really on a subject that I want to learn more about. I have signed up for Google Plus but have barely used it. And how do I get from being logged in there to being in Google Hangouts? And what’s a good way to start playing with Google Hangouts? All your thoughts are greatly appreciated! And I’ve subscribed to you. Thank you!
    Kebba Buckley Button recently posted…UpBeat Living: Is Your Brain Flat Today? Maybe You’re Sad?My Profile

    • You can access google hangouts from your g-mail account. All you need to do is click on the icon that looks like a video camera. A good way to play with it is to call a friend. Before I actually went live with a student I had my husband in another room so that I could play with the different features. Hope this helps.

  2. I have been a long-time teacher. I currently also tutoring afterschool from my home. I am trying to wrap my head around the concept and feasibility of online tutoring for K-5 students, so the more I investigate, the more there is to learn.
    Thanks for giving my brain lots of food to fuel my inquiries!

    • You are welcome. There is a lot to think about. The important thing is to just get started. Sometimes we can let the little details hinder us from moving forward. I know I did in the beginning.

  3. Great post! Lots of useful tips here. I have been meaning to try Google Hangouts for a while so shall try it out for sure. You make it sound really easy! Thanks for the link to the G+ blog too, I want to get to grips with it properly so this will be a great help.

  4. By the way, Guy’s book on G+ is awesome. Packed full of really useful information and an entertaining read. Thank you again for the link to it…to anyone who wants to get started on G+ and hasn’t got a clue where to start — like me!! — then download this book.

    • I agree. I didn’t know where to start either. I knew this would be a good, reliable place to start. Some of the content is now obsolete, but that is the nature of the beast with writing a book on social media.

    • I enjoy watching the Google Air as well. I plan on doing some interviews with luminaries in the very near future.

  5. ALSO, you can publish your Google Hangout Session and post it on you-tube. Bet you didn’t know that … so if you are doing a google hangout, others can see it at a later date if you post it on facebook.

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