NOTE: Whoo, five years is a whole *eon*, in tech time, people. So, the original updated version of this post, first written in 2015, then updated in 2018, remains below, because it will work to set you up for using Google Hangouts for screencasting. But there also two easier ways.
So here’s three ways to use Google Hangouts for screencasting.
One, pair it with screencasting software
Pair it with a conventional screencasting tool such as Camtasia, Screencast-o-matic, Snagit or Screencastify. Open your screencasting tool, then kick off a Google Hangout like you would normally.
Two, turn Recording on in Google Enterprise Suite.
But the updated version is that Google Hangouts have a button that simply turns recording on, if you have Google Enterprise Suite.
Here’s Google’s video tutorial on the topic:
And three, set your Google Hangout to be broadcast On Air.
Which gives you a recorded broadcast at the end.
Original 2018 post. (Oy.)
There 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. Super useful for Google schools, and did we mention it’s free?
Step-by-step, here’s how to use Google Hangout for screencasting
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
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
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.
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:
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.
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 five dogs.
Interviewing students and yelling in PHP are the best parts of her job.