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Using Google Hangout for Coaching in an Immersive Environment

The Google Hangout screen on the right includes the screens of of 9 colleagues, each of which can be viewed with a click. The screen on the left shows me in a game moving about and getting instructions from more experienced participants.

The Google Hangout screen on the right includes the screens of 9 colleagues, each of which can be viewed with a click. The screen on the left shows me in a game moving about and getting instructions from more experienced participants.

Those who teach or meet in immersive settings must often take time to troubleshoot technical issues or coach newcomers on basic functions and tasks.  With the large number of Virtual Worlds,  Browsers, Browser Versions, OS Versions,  and setting variables it is helpful to actually “see” the other person’s screen to be able to direct them adequately.  I was personally the recipient of this type of “distant coaching” through Google Hangout.  I was able to share my screen and describe what I was attempting to do and in turn received very direct direction and feedback to support my objective.  At the same time I was able to view others’ screens and have them demonstrate precisely what I needed to do.

Viewing one participant’s screen in Second Life while keeping track of the others (thumbnails) in World of Warcraft. taking a look at what each person is doing more closely is a click away.

Google Hangout added another dimension to my in world, immersive experience, as my avatar performed tasks and my colleagues gave me both audio and text directions.  As the 10 of us (according to the website Google says 9 is the limit but we had 10) communicated and supported each other, we made connections as to how this easy to use tool could be used to supplement and provide support for any online learning.  The tool provides scaffolding in that you can demonstrate on your computer all or any participants to see and hear verbal instructions, then see what students are doing and direct them as you listen to their responses and questions.  Students may look at each others’ screens and help each other out as well.  Google Hangout also allows for video camera sharing as well as computer screens, providing a format for synchronous learning that is engaging and personal, an element sometimes left out of online learning.

Though sharing screens is a feature of webinar software, it typically requires the facilitator to give and take permissions and screens shared are usually one at a time with some lag time in between.  Google Hangout makes it easy for all participants to switch between screens as concepts and ideas are discussed.

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