Making Global Connections with Google Mystery Hangouts

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If you’re participating in the Global Read Aloud, you may want to consider using these instructions to connect with other classrooms also participating.

When I was in the classroom, my students and I all agreed – Mystery Hangouts/Skypes were awesome! After all, this is where we learned firsthand from a class in Ireland that hurling was a popular sport in their country. Sound similar a popular winter pastime in Canada?

The aim of a Mystery Hangout or Mystery Skype is simple: two classrooms connect via Google Hangouts or Skype, and through a series of yes or no questions, try to deduce the location of the other class. Teachers know locations because of the planning involved, but students have no idea! During the question/answer period, students in both classes are busy using responses, to craft follow-up questions, and guide their search in Google Maps.

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There’s an inherent connection to teaching geography with these exchanges, but what may not be as obvious is the ability to pull in history, languages, and mathematics. They also create opportunities to model appropriate online etiquette, safety, and responsibility, principles closely tied to what it means to be a good digital citizen.

To get started, a connection with another teacher must be established. This can be achieved by reaching out on social media. Google+ has Communities built around teachers looking to make a Mystery Hangout connection, and Twitter can be searched using the hashtag #mysteryhangout. Currently, Skype is the platform of choice, but considering that Skype may not be installed on a teacher’s school computer, the simplicity of the web-based Hangout interface, and the deep integration with GAFE and Chromebooks, maybe it’s time to give Mystery Hangouts a try. Once teachers establish a connection, this is how their classes are brought together with Google Hangouts and a GAFE account. Click on an image for a full-sized view.

Google Hangouts used to be woven into Google+, but it’s now a standalone web-based application. Sign into your GAFE account, go to the Google Hangouts web site, and select Video Call.

Go to the new Google Hangouts site: https://hangouts.google.com/

On the next screen, you’ll be prompted to name your Hangout.

Create a name for your Hangout

There are various functions available in the user interface. It’s usually a good idea to toggle the microphone off when classes are not speaking directly to each other, it cuts down on the noise.

Familiarize yourself with the interface

By default, Hangouts may be restricted to users in the same domain, and it’s highly likely the other teacher will have a different domain. Therefore, to establish a connection, select Change, then Allow, enter the email address they have provided, and finally click Invite. (Review the slides below)

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Please feel free to leave a comment below to share your experience with Google Hangouts, and maybe even leave a few ideas for how to use Google Hangouts in the classroom.

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