Friday, May 23, 2014

Google Rocks Hawaii! -- A Weekly Hangout-on-Air for Collaborative Professional Development

This week I am giving some guest bloggers a chance to share their ideas with you. This is a guest post from Linda Lindsay. 

All you need is an enthusiastic group of educators who want to learn together and Google Hangouts on Air. Boom! You’re set for informal, spontaneous and fun professional development, with a local and global reach.

Google Rocks! Hawaii airs on Tuesday evenings at 7:00 PM Hawaiian Standard Time, when most of the rest of the United States is sleeping.

Every week, we educators choose a current topic, not necessarily Google-related. Topics vary widely: Hawaii STEM , Infographics, The Flipped Classroom, Hōkūle'a’s World Wide Voyage, Special Interest Groups (SIGs) in ISTE, and TEDxYouth, to name a few. Here’s the complete YouTube playlist. We’ve had several Google Apps for Education “Show and Tell” episodes. Our shows always start with short, informal presentations, followed by Q&A and discussion.

Our view count is typically small, ranging from 20-100, but our Google Cultural Institute and Paperless Classroom hangouts have been popular, garnering 400+ viewers so far. These numbers aren’t impressive by YouTube standards, but our philosophy is that every viewer is important. If we have made a difference for at least one educator each week, we consider our mission accomplished.

Our conversations are informal and informational. Our discussions are light-hearted and celebratory. Our pets bark, meow, and crow in the background, and family members stop in to say hi. We look forward to each week, and we love to learn.

Google Rocks! Hawaii began off air. My 2012 Google Certified Teacher (GCT) action plan was “to develop a Google HELP session or a Google Hangout series that meets the needs of Hawaii school librarians.” So I worked with Michelle Carlson Colte, a fellow Hawaii school librarian and a GCT as well, to bring a Google Rocks and So Do You! workshop for librarians in April, 2013. We offered a followup HELP hangout in June.

That one hangout turned into more. Michelle invited educational technology specialist Michael Fricano II on, and a few weeks later Michael suggested that we try a Hangout on Air. So our show went LIVE on August 20, 2013 and we’ve been hanging out weekly ever since. School librarians Anne Torige and Jody Brown round out the regular panel, and other Hawaii educators join in as guests.

We’ve been fortunate to have three continental educators on so far: Matthew Winner in Maryland to talk about World Read Aloud Day, Alexandra Riecke-Gonzales in Ohio to talk about Google Glass, and Brent Catlett in Nebraska of Connected Classrooms Workshop to talk about Virtual Field Trips. We also connected internationally, with three Maui students now on exchange in the Czech Republic, Italy, and Spain. Our target audience is Hawaii educators, but everyone is welcome to come and learn with us.

The hangouts are automatically uploaded to YouTube. We share our show notes in the video’s YouTube description and via Google Drive. Almost all of the videos have a clickable index, to accommodate busy viewers.

Two other weekly Hawaii educational hangouts started around the same time as Google Rocks! Hawaii: EdTech Mixed Plate, with “EdTech ideas, tips, tricks, and #EduRockstars to add to your plate”, and GEG Hawaii ACE21 - Q&A and Training, a Google Education Group.

Anyone can run a Hangout-on-Air for their colleagues and the world. The only requirements are a thirst for learning, a burning desire to share, and a little technical training. I recommend reviewing the always-current Source, Google support: Get started with Hangouts On Air.

Good luck hanging out on air and learning, and have fun with it!

Linda Lindsay is a teacher-librarian at Seabury Hall, an independent middle and high school in Makawao, Maui, Hawaii, and host of Google Rocks! Hawaii. She is a Google Certified Teacher. She blogs at mauilibrarian2 in Olinda and posts regularly on Google Plus, Twitter, and Facebook. She is always looking for interesting guests to come on Google Rocks! Hawaii.