Google+ is a free web service that has video chatting through "Google+ Hangouts." It's easy and reliable, and how online small groups interact. See below for step-by-step instructions to sign up for Google+.
Sign up for Google+
- If you do not have a registered Google account you will need to create one:
- Visit www.accounts.google.com and follow their instructions to create an account.
- You will need to verify your account. Follow the prompts on screen to verify either on the Google site, or with your email.
- Now that you've created your Google+ account, you will need to download the plugin for video chat. Make sure your webcam and microphone are working properly.
- Congratulations! You have successfully created your Google+ account and downloaded! You will likely be asked if you'd like to find people you know on Google+, to which you can just click the blue button "Skip" and/or "Continue Anyway."
- Your online small group leader will contact you before your first meeting with the link for your small group meeting and connect with you on Google+ to test the technology.
- When it's time to join a Hangout, simply visit plus.google.com and make sure you're logged in to your account. You will receive a notification on your screen to join the hangout your leader has started.
If you have any questions or problems signing up for Google+ please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Google+ tips for your online small group
- Mute your microphone when you are not speaking by clicking the microphone icon to minimize distracting background noise like dogs barking, a loud fan, or typing sounds.
- Use headphones to limit echoing.
- Use the chat bar provided in the Hangout for things like tech questions or comments when another person has the floor.
- Agree on hand signals like thumbs up for “I can hear you” or hand to ear for “I can’t hear you” in case of audio problems. Hand signals or nodding your head is also helpful to show that you are listening when someone else is speaking.
- If you arrive late to your online small group meeting, do not immediately begin talking or apologizing for your tardiness, you do not want to interrupt if someone is sharing about themselves or their week. Just wave "hello" to your fellow group members and wait for an appropriate moment to speak.
- Google+ is a wonderful tool, but is still prone to connection problems. There is the possibility of tech issues such as video or audio lag. If one person in the group has a very slow computer or internet connection it could effect the whole group. Be patient and understanding if these problems arise.