Communication is key in any industry and especially as it relates to business processes happening in schools. From it’s days of “Google Talk” to “G Chat”, Google Hangouts has always been viewed as a simple chat interface. With the introduction Hangouts Chat we are seeing functionality that is far beyond just sending emoji’s to a coworker (though, you can still do that too).
Now, as an IT Admin for a school district, you might wonder why this is important for you – well, if your teachers and staff are not yet using Google Hangouts for direct communications, then you should take a moment to reconsider. The key purpose of these various iterations of direct messaging is to remove the long strings of emails for simple correspondence while still being secure within the Google Workspace ecosystem. Emails not only take up time and space in everyone’s inbox, but they also don’t offer the ability to join or exit group threads if the content is or isn’t relevant. Yes, you can do that and much more with Hangout Chat.
As I aforementioned, Google has released a handful of fantastic features in Hangouts that will take your teacher and staff communications to the next level.
Ultimately, the answer to these requests often end up in the no-go pile because up to this point, there has not been a way to break up your OU to allow flexibility for special scenarios. This minor, yet a pivotal point of frustration has been addressed with a recent Google update to Groups.
As of December 2018, Admins will now have the ability to enable Core Apps and Additional Apps and services to groups of users within your organization.
Rooms – In rooms, you can have threaded conversations and the ability to either follow or unfollow certain threads. This helps to keep all of your discussions together rather than one long thread. Rooms are great for IT teams to use for tickets or open problems (eg: follow a thread until it is resolved then unfollow)
Group messaging and Direct messaging are still integrated, which means teachers and staff only have to be in one location to access all correspondence.
Bots – Hangout Meets Bot will schedule meetings with colleagues in seconds. Drive bot will show any changes, comments, or tagged comments along with general drive notifications that would normally be an email notification. Giphy bot is just for fun. Create your own bot. Admins can also control which Bots are allowed in the domain (in case Giphy gets too silly)
Robust searching – Filterable searches across threads make it easy to find old messages in a specific room, any rooms, or from any messages. Tip: @me will look for any messages you are tagged (good for finding items later). From a search, you can click “Go to thread” to jump right back to that discussion. This feature makes it easy to quickly locate specific information with a bit of granular filtering to simplify the search.
Vault retention – Hangouts Chat is retained in Vault like Gmail, Drive, and Groups. On April 16, 2019, Google Hangouts will be stored in Hangouts Chat Vault instead of Gmail, making it easier to search and find chat transcripts. This is the key feature that really removes the need to always have teachers and staff have an “email trail” as Admins will have the ability to access all correspondence even if the message has been deleted.
Hangouts Chat is constantly being updated and improved to support your communication needs
As you can read, no, we are not advocating for students to have this application enabled (quite the opposite), but with improvements that have been made within in Google Hangouts, it is ideal for simplifying e-communications for everyone else in your school district. Let us know if you have questions about ensuring your Google Workspace domain settings meet and follow EDU Best Practices.
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About the Author:
Kendal Shomura joined the Amplified IT team in 2018 after 7 years working in Public Schools as an educator, Instructional Coach, Technology Integration Specialist, and as a Professor in Masters of Educational Technology program at Touro University. He spent 3 years as a Google Administrator while training staff on how to integrate Google Workspace tools into their classrooms. Kendal’s wide array of experiences with Educational Technology allows him to understand the important nuances of technology in schools. Today, he is a Google for Education Consultant who works to help schools better understand their Google environment and empowers them to configure Google Workspace in the most optimum way for student safety while still allowing for robust usage of the tools.