At this time of year as the school year draws to a close both at the High School I work at and the Community College I teach at I like to close with something new for the students. This semester I chose to use the collaborative Google Hangout for sharing of course materials,a good laugh at us on a web cam and also a new fluency in technology use and assessment. The sharing of these experiences online is beneficial from a variety of perspectives for both the students and myself.
For a long time I have found video to be a great way to share what a person learns and also how they learn. Google hangouts provide the perfect opportunity to get up to 10 students(others can watch) for a web based video collaboration which has enabled chat features and screen sharing capabilities.
For the final of my PHP programming course at Bunker Hill Community College in Charlestown,Massachusetts I asked students to go online and participate in the hangout and share their collective work for the semester. This was a small class so the format worked perfectly. Students received notification from me on their Google + page to join the hangout and shared their web pages from their chosen server and we also we able to discuss the approach we decided on for our group final project.
This students in this class really responded well to the hangout format and were anxious to share with the technology. When audio issues arrived we were able to utilize the built in messaging service inside the Hangout. This can help communicate between all participants.
I chose to do a hangout on air in which the video is live streamed to the internet and saved to Youtube. This is great for revisiting if you need at a later time.
I found Hangouts relatively easy to use except when some students I sent invites to did not receive the notice in their Google accounts. This can be a little annoying for inviting the members but usually a couple resends solves the problem. I have included the video from my PHP class if your interested in seeing one go down but it is much more fun to have your own!
In the Andover Innovation Lab which is a course at Andover High School for Independent Technology projects students have Google Hangouts as part of their final assessment. I ask that students present and their self driven projects and describe their experiences creating them. I want students to reveal their process and goals as well as the resources they used to get their product. In the video I embedded below, the student created an application using the iOS development tool Xcode and has described his experiences.
Overall the tool is powerful at creating collaboration and sharing with technology. It does take some time to get used to but in the end it can be a powerful web based assessment tool. Its great to be able to ask students to present in this way. It makes them think about their presentation in a real world construct.