How do you get started with Hangouts

How you can use Google Plus for online classes

If you want to offer your lessons for students and yourself flexibly and independently of the location, the Skype and Google Hangouts tools are ideal. These two tools are very popular in one-to-one lessons. But how can such tools be best used in group lessons? Here are some tips for you.

For a long time, Skype was the No. 1 tool for online lessons - you see each other, you hear each other and you also have the chat function, which can be used to send and read messages. However, for some time now, Google has been catching up with its hangout tool. If you want to call your friends via hangout, you need a Gmail account. This includes the Google Hangout function and other tools. Because unlike Skype, you can find the Drive document on Google. There you have the option of storing various folders and files that your students can access - anytime, anywhere.

Google+, Gmail and Google Docs, Google - what are the differences?

With so many Google terms, it's easy to get confused. Therefore we start with the definition of the term:


Google itself is probably the most famous search engine in the world. Thanks to her, you can find all the existing content on the Internet. You simply enter a search term in the search field, click on Enter and the relevant websites and content will jump out.

Google Plus account

You have to imagine the Google Plus account like the roof of a pillar or the parent company, which combines various subsidiaries / additional services. To get access to these additional services, you need a Google Plus account. No matter how you log in: Whether you go to the website for an additional service or directly to the Google Plus account, you always have to log in to Google Plus.

Google+ was originally developed as a social media platform. In Germany, this platform took a long time to establish itself and it doesn't really work to this day. At some point, Google decided to force users to sign up on Google+. Therefore, you can no longer avoid registering.

For example, if you set up a Gmail account, you automatically log into Google+ and thus receive a Google+ social media profile.

Additional services

The best-known services of the Google Plus account include:

Gmail- Email management

Picasa- Photo management

Google Docs (also called drive / documents) - an online hard drive with a writing program, Excel-like software, paint-like software. Also included is software for creating presentations and survey forms


Google Hangouts - Video phone and chat service including Hangouts on Air with recording function

In addition, Google Plus combines other services.

Google Plus and online lessons

With the social media platform Google Plus you can organize your contacts in so-called “circles”. For example, you can assign business contacts to the “business” group, but your students to the “student” group.

If you want to give online lessons using Google+, you can organize the circles even better: For example, if you have a group of beginners, you name the circle “Beginners”, while advanced learners are added to the circle “Advanced”.

Which Google Plus services help you with online lessons

Google Plus is particularly interesting for online lessons, as you can use many other services. The following are available to you:

1. Hangouts

With the video telephone service, up to 10 participants can talk to each other at the same time. Everyone see and hear each other. However, each participant can decide for himself whether to turn on his camera or not. Everyone can also switch their microphone on or off.

I myself ask the participants to leave the microphone switched off as long as another participant is speaking. In this way, background noise from others is avoided and everyone can concentrate on what is being said. If someone wants to say something, they briefly raise their hand, switch on their microphone and speak.

The verb “to hang out” means “to spend time”. In German we have the colloquial term “depend” for this. The noun “hangout” indicates the place where you want to spend time together or hang out.

The Google+ Hangout function is not only used to hold your online lessons, but also to hold conferences, webinars and other online meetings when the participants or your friends are in different corners of the world.

But what happens if you want to explain something to the students in writing?


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2. Chat or Google Docs

In the first phase of Google Hangouts, there was a chat function similar to that of Skype, i.e. a sidebar in which the progress of what was written could be seen. Everyone could submit their written contribution. However, the history was gone immediately after the video conference was ended. Maybe that's why this function is no longer available. I don't know the reason This function was less important for teaching.

The drive documents, to which the writing program belongs in particular, are much more valuable.

Google text

Google Text or Google Docs is a writing program that is very similar to Microsoft's WORD and has almost the same functions. But the unique feature of this software is that it can be written by several users at the same time. So when your student A opens the document, he'll see who opened the document at the same time. If student A writes in the word “Hello”, all other users who keep the document open will see it directly. Now student B can answer directly and write “How are you?”. Everyone else sees it.

Google Docs is thus a writing document in live format and can therefore also serve as a chat.

I myself used the document for both:

  1. As a chat to correct statements immediately or
  2. As a storage space for important teaching documents

File and share teaching materials

You can either design the teaching materials for the student directly in the writing program Docs or upload them as a file from your Word. Whichever path you choose, you can share these materials with your students. To do this, you choose whether your students can edit these materials or just view them. It's up to you. For example, if you have documents that always have to remain the same and should only remain the same, then you release them for inspection. For example, if you want to do homework and have the student write on it, you release the document for editing.

CAUTION: If you share a document with multiple students, they are all writing on the same document. When doing homework, you should create a separate folder or document for each student.

As for the technical side of Google, that's actually the whole secret.

Do you have experience with group courses online? What are the greatest challenges for you?