Thing 9: Google Hangouts/Collaborate Ultra

Part of my current job is to support Collaborate Ultra so I’m been using this and its predecessor Collaborate for a number of years. I’ve not had much experience of Google Hangouts, so it was interesting for me to spend some time using a different system and see how the two compare.

I took part in the Collaborate session on October the 13th and the Google Hangout the next day. Google Hangouts has core functionality within in and you can get extra functionality by adding Apps – we struggled a wee bit with making sure everyone could see the same thing when trying the Apps. But I’m sure with a bit more time we could make good use of the tools. Sharing your webcam video is a big part of Google Hangouts, it takes up the whole screen almost allowing you to make ‘eye contact’ by contrast the video in Collaborate is confined to small windows and doesn’t feel as key. Collaborate Ultra includes a set of tools designed for the teaching context, and you can’t add external Apps, which does make it easier to navigate and far simpler to support, as you can predict what might be there.

Google Hangouts Apps included some fun options, such as reading a bedtime story – which would be great for parents working away and wanting to share this with a child. There were also Apps to let you draw or add stickers (such as a crown or moustache) to the other persons face.


I had lots of fun with the Google Hangout Easter Eggs. Unfortunately these didn’t work within the Google Hangout but did work in the Google chat. Typing “/ponies” will show a single animated pony (similar to the ones from My Little Pony) prancing across the screen. Despite having had a Gmail account for years I’d not realised that there was a chat feature within it. I also found out from doing this thing – that I can take part in a Google Hangout from my phone.

A common theme for me from the 23Things is finding out how much functionality there is built in to my phone that I was unaware off!