If you aren't familiar with Google Hangouts, click here. It is much like Skype. At a minimum you will need a webcam, microphone, and Google account. I learned about it this past year at one of our local (Dawson) Educational Coop Technology Coach trainings.
We decided to meet two days before the actual book club meeting to test all our equipment. We ran into some bumps, so I'm glad we did the test session. We didn't successfully connect during the first test session, so we rescheduled another test session the day before the book club. After I reinstalled my web camera and connected the audio out through the library ceiling speakers, everything worked! You can see Brian on the screen in the photo below. We were having a lunch celebration for all our book club members and student library assistants, so they all got to see the test session. I introduced Brian to the students, and we were all extremely excited about the upcoming Google Hangout book club session!
The big day arrived, and everything worked perfectly. My two 9th grade book club leaders took over and did a great job. I think both sides were a little shy at first, but it improved quickly as they got used to the interactive web cam environment. Brian and I would jump in when needed. Several students interacted from both schools during the session!
The photo above is one of the Springdale students answering one of the discussion questions. I ran the webcam video through the LCD projector in the library so all the book club members could easily see what what was going on. The audio came through our ceiling speakers and worked quite well. What a great experience for all the students!
The photo below is what the students from Springdale saw in their library. Brian posted this on social media!
We hope to do more of these meetings next year. Brian named these meetings "Lakeside Squared", since both of our schools share that name (even though our Lakeside is in Hot Springs- a mere 200 miles south of Springdale Lakeside).
I think we have tapped into a wonderful communication/ collaboration tool for not only our libraries but for class projects, too. My mind is already beginning to race with ideas for the upcoming school year! As your school year is winding down, consider experimenting with this technology over the summer and consider ways to incorporate it into learning activities for 2014-2015.
This is clearly an important method of communication and collaboration for all 21st century learners! One thing is certain, the world now seems a lot smaller for the students (and Library Media Specialists) of both schools carrying the name Lakeside.
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