How to use Google Hangout for screencasting

Let this powerful tool save you time

how to use Google Hangout for screencastingThere are a plethora of screencasting tools available for Mac, PC and Chromebook, but one way to create a super-quick screencast when you want students to be able to see you in the picture, is to use Google Hangout for screencasting and take advantage of Google’s smooth workflow and easy-to-use screen-sharing option. Super useful for Google schools, and did we mention it’s free?

Step-by-step, here’s how to use Google Hangout for screencasting

1. Go to Google Hangouts on Air

how to use google hangouts for screencasting
Click the yellow “Create a Hangout on Air” button

2. Set it to private

Name your hangout, give it a description, then click on the X in the green “Public” button if you don’t want the whole thing posted to your Google+ profile. You do need to pick one person to share it with, but it can be your own alternate email address. Click “Share” to get to the Hangout. As shown in this 30-second, audio-free video snippet:

Troubleshooting tip: You do need to verify your YouTube account, if prompted, but it takes seconds.

Yes, I appreciate the irony in having used Camtasia to create that screencast. Stay tuned for “App-smashing and creating instructional blogposts” 🙂

 3. Click “Start” to enter the screencasting studio

how to use Google Hangouts for screencasting
You’ve been popped over into Google+ and on the lefthand side of the page is a Hangout window. Click the blue “Start” button.

4. Start your broadcast

how to use Google Hangout for screencasting
Now you are in the Hangout window. Click “Skip” to queue up a percentage progress bar at the bottom of your Hangout window. When it’s done, the progress bar will turn to a green “Start broadcast” button. You’ll get a little countdown up there in the corner, then boom! You are now recording from your machine.

5. Screencast with anything on your desktop

To do a voiceover of your slides, hover over the lefthand edge of the Hangout window until a column of icons appears. The third one down is Screenshare. Click it, and choose your slides from the set of options that pop up.

how to use Google Hangout for screencasting
The options will consist of every application you have open, plus your Desktop.

6. Start talking!

Once you choose your slides, navigate over to them on your machine as if the Hangout wasn’t there, and start talking. And what you wind up with as a finished project is something like this:

After you finish the broadcast, what you wind up with is an unlisted YouTube video. And from there, you can decide who receives the url to view the finished project.

tldr; a screencast showing soup-to-nuts how this works

For a complete look at how this works from the driver’s seat, I used Camtasia again to record what this whole process looks like from the back end. (Did I mention the app-smashing for instructional blogposts?)

Troubleshooting tip: obviously, this works best for schools with ready access to the Google suite of products. If, for instance, you find yourself staring at something like this:

how to use Google Hangout for screencasting
Then it’s likely time for an inservice conversation about fettered internet access, security and digital citizenship as a school-wide culture, but that, my friends, is a whole other blogpost.


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Audrey Homan is a Vermont-based digital media producer, and producer of The 21st Century Classroom podcast. She's worked in non-profit communications for more than a decade, and in her spare time writes tiny video games and mucks about with augmented reality and arduinos, ably assisted by six dogs. Interviewing students and yelling in PHP are the best parts of her job.

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