Google Hangouts is just one of the many collaboration tools that can used to foster classroom communication. Google Hangouts allows users to chat to individuals or in groups, make phone calls, and make video calls–all for free. All one needs to do is sign up for a Google account, preferable a Google Plus account.
Here’s a screenshot of my Hangouts page, if I follow the link above. As you can see, you can video chat or message anyone if your contacts. To add someone to your chat, you simply need to add their Google email (Gmail) into the search bar. You can also search by name, but I recommend searching by Gmail because when you search by name, you get basically any Google Plus user.
Google Hangouts can be used in the classroom for many different uses. For example, if students are working in groups for a project, they can communicate over Hangouts via group chat so everyone gets the message (way easier than group texting).Teachers can also bring in “guest speakers” via video call on Hangouts. This way, the students can still communicate in real time with the speaker without the speaker having to physically travel to the classroom. This can also be helpful if the speaker had planned to come to the classroom but cannot travel a long distance due to, say, weather. Further, teachers can also communicate with students via video call if they are away from the class. For example, if you as a teacher had to unexpectedly leave school but had a test to give the same day, you can make a quick call to the class to give them instruction on the test while another teacher watches over them.
If you are curious about more communication and collaboration tools, check out Collaboration LiveBinder!