Sunday, September 22, 2013

Discussion Director

How I used Google Hangouts on Air

This week I had the opportunity to be the Discussion Director for my ED 720 Central Issues and Research in New Literacies class. The required reading for the week was, The Handbook on New Literacies Chapters 9 and 10. In this reading, our class took a close look at the implications of using the Web in the classroom and how students navigate through the Web. As discussion director, I developed 2 prompts for my classmates to discuss. My focus was to learn how others are using the Web and what challenges/workarounds they’re finding.  I also wanted to gain insight in what they see their students doing when they search the web.  My prompts:

Prompt #1
The Web is increasingly being used as text for the classroom. What challenges exist when using the Web in the classroom? What practices can you use to overcome these challenges?

Prompt #2
A student’s Web navigation ability has an impact on learning from the Web. How do your students navigate the Web? What characteristics are you observing? How can you help students navigate the Web to gain knowledge?

As Discussion Director, I gave a choice on how they could respond to the prompts. They could write their response and post it within  Google Groups or they could participate in a video chat using Google Hangouts.  I was excited about using Google Hangouts for discussion as it would offer those in attendance a chance for real time discussion. I was hoping for an active discussion.  My challenge was how to record the hangout. I turned  to Google to research recording hangouts. I found several options and chose to use Screencast-O-Matic, free screen recording software.   The result was poor audio and the upload to Youtube was extremely slow. Here is the of the hangout recording using Screencast-O-Matic.
The video was good the audio was not good. I was disappointed after listening because we had a good discussion.

My instructor, Ian O’Byrne suggested I try Hangout on Air and change the privacy rights on the recording. The following day I used Hangout on Air and it resulted in recording a great discussion.  The audio was perfect. The recording went straight to Youtube, no need to upload. There is no time limit. It was very easy to use. Click on the link to watch.

Being Discussion Director was a very good experience. I thought the discussions went well.  Everyone showed knowledge of the topic. It was evident they did their reading and made reference to the reading. My classmates seemed ready and eager to discuss.  

I’ve received good feedback on using the hangouts on air as the means for discussion. Things I might have changed include specifically asking hangout participants to write a comment on the discussion. I would have also have been more specific about the assignment. There was some confusion over which prompts to respond to and where to post responses.

Thank you for the opportunity.


  1. Hi Nancy, I really appreciate how you took advantage of the Hangouts on Air to run the discussion this week. I do have to say that I've run this type of lesson for a couple of years and for the most part students all run a discussion in Google Groups the same way. You totally took advantage of this assignment and the affordances of the different texts and tools to create a new learning experience!!!

    Great work!!!

  2. It was a great session, and I especially appreciated being able to talk about the readings, our thoughts on the readings and get feedback in real time :)