Friday, March 13, 2020

Google Snacks Volume 16 - Google Hangouts Meet

Google Hangouts Meet is a great video conferencing and recording tool which allows you to record webcam, screencast, or both! In this session we will cover creating a Hangouts Meet session via Google Calendar to plan meetings in advance, sharing these events in Google Classroom and via email, and using the basic functions of Meet including recording.

Begin by going to Google Calendar and creating a new event, then choose the option to Add Rooms etc. You can also choose this option from an existing event.

At the bottom of the event where my name is highlighted, you can click this to choose to add the event to another calendar, such as a Google Classroom calendar. This mainly helps to keep things organized.

Once you click on the Add Rooms etc. to expand the list of options, select the Add Conferencing to set up a Meets session.

Google Calendar will automatically generate a Meet session ID for you. We will reference this session ID a few times throughout this training, so keep this in mind. Next, click on the small arrow to the right of the session ID to expand for more options.

Below is an image of the additional options when you click the arrow. The phone number and pin listed allow people to join via any phone (yes, even a land line) and have audio only. This might be a particularly good option for students with limited internet access.

Once you are done creating your calendar event and click save, if you click on the event again, you can hover over the Join Hangouts Meet area and a copy icon should show up to the right. Click this "Copy Conference Link" button to copy the session ID link.

Once copied, you can paste it into an email to send to all of your students to allow them to join. This email can also be scheduled to be sent at a specific time (see Google Snacks Volume 3) if you want the students to get them at a specific date and time. Using email would be best if you do not already have a Classroom set up and/or if email is the best means of communication. We will also use this link for adding to Google Classroom, which we will switch to now.

Once in Classroom, create a new Material, or edit an existing one. Choose the Add button then select Link, and paste your Meet session ID link in the box.

You can also use Assignments (even use an existing one) if you wanted to pair this Meet session with a graded assignment. Once you insert the link, the Meet session will show up in that Material or Assignment.

Now we will actually go into Hangouts Meet, so you can use the Meet link to go there to test now. Once you switch over to Meet, you will have two options, Join or Present. Let's take a look at the differences between these.

Join will enter you in the session with your webcam on and allow you to present your screen later. You can turn your webcam off at any time and this mode has many more features than Present mode. Present gives you the option to present immediately without the webcam. You will not be able to enable webcam later in this mode, only present your screen. Also, Present does not allow you to record your session. Next we will take a look at Present mode.

Once you click Present, you will be shown a window where you can choose to show your whole screen or just one app or window.

When you choose the entire screen, students will see everything as you do it, so keep that in mind if you have a grade book or other sensitive material up. Choosing to present only one app or window does just that, only presents that one window. Keep this image/screen in mind as it will be relevant when we talk about presenting in Join mode.

If you chose Present mode and not Join mode, you will not be able to show your webcam at any time. You also will not have access to the record feature, to record this session for future reference. Once you are done presenting, you will only have the option to present again, or present something else.

The following instructions are for the Join mode. The Join mode has many more features, including the option to record.

Before you click Join, you have the option to mute your mic or turn your camera off before going into the Meet session.

If your computer has more than one camera, or you are using a document camera for presenting, click on the three dots menu in the lower right corner, then choose Settings.

In the Settings menu, select the Video tab at the top, then choose the correct camera from the drop down list. If you are using a Surface Pro, the default camera is the back facing camera.

We will start with presenting in Join mode, since we just talked about this for Present mode. In the lower right corner, you will have the option to Present Now. When you select this, you will be given the option to present your entire screen or just one window or app, similar to described in the Present mode.

If you choose to present one window or app, the window must visible, i.e. not minimized, or it will not be an option. If the window you want is minimized, it will show up as an option as soon as you bring it up. The window can be behind other windows, just not minimized.

When you present your screen while having your webcam visible, the viewers screen will look like the image below. If you are not using your webcam, the webcam part will be replaced with your Google profile image, the same one on your email.

In the lower left corner of the Join mode, you will see Meeting Details, which displays the joining info such as the Meet link, phone number, and pin number.

I won't go into much detail on the attachments part of this menu, but this section will only show attachments that were added to the Google Calendar event we created at the beginning of this session. You cannot use this to add more attachments during the Meet.

In the top right corner you will find the Chat option and the Other People option.

Chat allows you to enter text to the class if you need to. This might be useful for providing the students links or other additional text based information. The People option allows you see who all has joined and allows you to click on other people to view their screen or webcam, whichever they choose to present.

We are in the home stretch now! We are going to cover recording next, but first, let's briefly talk about captions. Captions are located in the lower right corner, next to Present Now. It is important to turn this feature on BEFORE you begin recording. This is an important accessibility option for students to have access to. You can start the captions after you begin recording, but it will not caption anything said before you turn them on. Captions cannot be added after the recording is complete either, which is why we recommend turning them on before starting.

Begin recording by clicking on the "three dot menu" in the lower right corner and select Record Meeting. There are several additional options in this menu as well, we will not be covering them in this session, but you are free to explore these as well.

When you are done recording, you will need to click the three dots again and choose Stop Recording. The video will be automatically uploaded to your Google Drive in a new folder that will be automatically created called Meet Recordings.

The name of the video will be the same as the Meet session ID, as shown in the images below.

The recorded video will also be automatically shared to all session participants once it is uploaded to Drive, so no need to share it with them on your own. The video will need to be manually shared to students that did not attend the Meet session.

That's it! I know that was a lot of info, so let's do a quick review.

  • Create a Meet session within a Calendar event 
  • Add the link to Classroom via Materials or Assignment
  • Join the Meet session and configure settings
  • Test recording and presenting, then view the video after it uploads to Drive
Additional resources can be found at

I hope this helped you get to know a Google feature you didn't already know before and prepare you for remote instruction with the COVID-19 situation. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comments section.

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