In many educational networks, google hangouts are taking off in near viral proportions. The reasons may be due to the following:-
- it comes free with a google+ account
- a simple booking process to create a ghangout, share a link, connect direct
- the ability to have up to 10 videocameras on at once, a screen sharing facility, file sharing and other useful apps (which google are constantly adding to).
- the ability to record and store the ghangout on youtube
- play to air in real time so that other participants can chat and participate in a space alongside the actual ghangout.
- ability to invite people in via a telephone connection (available in some countries only)
- “Enable Hangouts On Air” will stream a live hangout publicly on a Google+ profile, your YouTube channel and your website. Viewers can watch live, add their comments and questions to the conversation
Skype has been a personal favourite of mine for many years now because:-
- it is free
- ability to use chat and/or use audio
- ability to videoconference (although only two videos can be activated at one time)
- create groups
- group chats which can go 24/7
- send files
- share screens
- use emoticons
- group audio calls etc
- automatically saves chat
- globally known and established
Skype premium comes at a monthly cost but enables up to 10 video linkups at once. Day passes can also be purchased. Only one person needs to have the premium account and simply calls the other participants via the usual means.
Comparing the two:-
My challenge is the poor bandwidth that comes from living in a rural area of Australia. Skype can be flakey at times and my experiences with google hangouts has not been good to date. I keep dropping out. If I pull back the connection speed, I stay in a bit longer but audio and video quality can still vary and I must be cabled in. My assumption is that skype is less bandwidth heavy than google hangouts. This conflicted with some opinions on the HLW Skypers group, of which I am a member. To test fully, my online friend Rheinhard from Germany organised a skype linkup using his premium account between two other colleagues in the USA and myself. Immediately after the skype linkup, we connected in a google hangout to compare the stability of the two.
Skype was stable and all went well with the first linkup. (I was on wireless for skype). We then moved to the google hangout, but once in the ghangout. I had to swap to my cabled computer. Even though I pulled back my connection speed I continued to drop out. After the fifth login, I called it quits. So, for me, skype premium and skype wins as being the most reliable and stable.
Conclusions and suggestions for others:
- skype is far more stable than google hangouts for me
- skype and skype premium works well on wireless, google hangouts need to used cables for best quality
- you will need to test each tool to see which works best for you
- test them fully with your partner(s)/colleagues
- determine how many video linkups are required and what kind of participation is required from other interested parties.
- Take care if holding google hangouts with classes that you have permissions for students to be aired on youtube, if that is the chosen direction..