This morning at work, I grabbed my laptop and dashed downstairs to the ground floor. To others, it’s an escape out of the building. For me, it’s where the free WiFi is so that’s where you’ll find me.
We have a bank branch downstairs that has free wifi around its direct vicinity. I’m sure they’ve seen me hanging around there like a bad smell. It’s never to take any money out or deposit any money. It’s all about their WiFi. Today was no different.
“OMG, there’s that mad woman again,” I overheard a branch member say.
Today I was hanging out in Google with Jo Cooke (@LightbulbJo) and it was the first time we had met online – and actually talked to each other apart from tweeting. She and Alistair Cockcroft (@acockroft) volunteered for us to learn together after I tweeted last Sunday that it was no fun hanging out in Google by yourself with two laptops. For one, the head turning from one laptop to the desktop, the audio feeback and well, the pathetic nature of it all doesn’t lend itself to an enriching learning experience.
So while Alistair was unable to make it, like troupers, Jo and I continued with the hangout. It was 9pm in the UK and Jo was getting ready for bed, meanwhile 8am our time, I was getting fired up ready for the new work day – more excited about this hangout than any meetings I had on for the day – and I hadn’t even had my coffee yet.
Jo and I checked out the various apps and back and forth we bantered, “so what did you see?” and then considered how they may be used in the learning context. Aside from breaking the ice and mucking around with funny hats and glasses onto our profiles, we both came away with an understanding of this tool. In particularly, the functions I liked were:
(a) You Tube video: you can show You Tube video to your hangout group and then continue to talk through certain bits by holding down a green ‘talk’ button.
(b) Google Hangout Toolbox had some nifty functions such as custom overlays and creating preset titles and logos on your screen image. For example, you may want to have different titles for different audiences of Google Hangouts and you could simply click them on and off as you needed to clear the picture.
(c) Slideshare: You can upload your slides onto Slideshare and then click through the slides while talking to them or assign someone else in your hangout to do this.
(d) There was a colourful app all about project collaboration and assigning tasks to people which then came through onto your Gmail account and Google calendar.
So all in all, a successful hangout just testing various functionality and apps.
The questions I was asking was, why and how would I use them in my line of work?
Well, the challenge is that I wouldn’t – not during work hours or for actual client project work. In my current corporate environment, I had to use my own tools and find free wifi as I couldn’t access Google Hangouts through our own firewall.
It would have solved so many problems if we did have access to these tools but we have other standard enterprise software tools we must use for privacy or security reasons. However, for personal development when I need to get a small group together outside of work hours then it’s an entirely different matter. Google Hangouts prove to be quite flexible and with a bit of fun element to them. If they can be recorded in the future, that would be a bonus.
So where to from here?
I’d like to do a Google Hangout with my Meet up group Third Place and have our Newcastle and Melbourne people join (and whoever else would like to join) to learn to socialise online and learn this new tool.