Week 6 – Synchronous Video: Skype and Google Hangouts

By the end of this module you should be able to:

  • Use Skype to communicate with others at a distance
  • Use Google+ Hangouts to communicate with others at a distance
  • Explain how synchronous video tools, such as Skype and Hangouts, can be used in teaching and learning
  • Connect with guests and other classrooms that you’d like to communicate with in your teaching and/or professional development

Task List

1. Skype in the Classroom

  • Visit and read / watch the materials on the module page

2. Google+ Hangouts in the Classroom

  • Visit and read / watch the materials on the module page

3. Watch the conversation with Alan Stange. The session will be at be at 11 AM Eastern Standard Time on Wednesday, February 18.

4. Post to the discussion forum (on Canvas) your reflections and ideas for using synchronous video in teaching and learning.


1. Skype

Skype is an audio-conferencing or video-conferencing application that operates via the Internet. It has now been around for over 10 years and has become very popular for friends and families to stay connected.

If you’re not familiar with Skype, check out this quick video that explains the basics.

Skype Explained Visually

Skype has been increasingly used in educational contexts. Innovative teachers have been “Skyping” authors, musicians, directors, politicians and scientists into their class discussions. Other teachers have connected with other classrooms around the world either on a one-time or on-going basis. For these examples and more of how Skype can be used in teaching, please read Ten ways to use Skype in a course.

There are a wide variety of interesting stories of how Skype has been used to enhance teaching and learning. Here are some examples:

Skype has also created an online community known as Skype in the Classroom. This community is intended to connect classrooms around the world to one another. You can begin this journey by creating a Skype in the Classroom account and setting up your profile. To see a variety of videos of highlights of this service so far, visit: Skype in the Classroom Videos.

Author Jojo Moyes shares her writing tips via Skype in the classroom

For the Google Hangout this week, we will be talking with Alan Stange. Alan is an elementary school teacher in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. He has experience using Skype in the Classroom with his students. He also has a vast online PLN (Personal Learning Network). A discussion forum has been set up where you can post your questions for Alan, but you can also tweet questions using the course hashtag #ilt_usask.

To get started with using Skype, you can follow these guides depending on your operating system:


2. Google Hangouts

Google+ Hangouts is a video-conferencing tool similar to Skype. It has a number of features that are different from Skype, such as integration of the Google Drive suite of tools. Hangouts also is designed to easily connect up to 10 participants into the conversation. Many teachers have been using Hangouts in the same ways as others are using Skype (e.g., bringing in guest speakers, connecting with other classrooms, connecting for professional development).

One key feature of Google+ Hangouts is the ability to live stream the video-conferences. This is done using the feature call Hangouts On Air. Hangouts on Air have the same feature set as regular Hangouts, but the events are live streamed on YouTube and are automatically archived on YouTube. This allows participants from anywhere in the world to view the conversation as it takes place or watch it later at the same link! This may be especially useful for courses that are taught at a distance.

One other really neat use of Hangouts On Air is that Google and educational partners have teamed up you can take your students on live virtual field trips through Hangouts. Of course, you could also organize events like these on your own!

Below are a couple of videos that do a really great job explaining how to setup and use Google+ Hangouts and Hangouts on Air. The first video is very thorough as it goes over everything about using Hangouts, including how to begin a Hangout. Note: Google is constantly updating and improving Hangouts so some features may appear differently today than they did just a few months ago.

1. Hangouts and Hangouts On Air in the Classroom

This second video assumes you know how to begin a Hangout and focuses more on how to use them effectively in your classroom.

2. Connected Educators Google+ Hangout On Air Series: Using Hangouts & Hangouts On Air in the Classroom

Another great resource for using Hangouts in teaching is the website #eduhangout. This is similar to Skype in the Classroom, but this one is a teacher-created community for Google+ Hangouts.