One dude's feeling about unhangouts

I’m a big believer in the live event. I know it doesn’t work for some folks… but i love it. There is something in the eventedness of it that changes the complexion of a course for me. It’s also a really easy way to create content, you schedule an hour, by the end of an hour you have an hour. That’s good right? I’ve used the big corporate stuff, I’ve live webcasted using virtual audio cables and shoutcast… I’ve never been 100% happy with any of it. Some good, some bad. This is one way i like to do them.

So I’ve been working with unhangout.

I love the elegance of the live on air attached to the chatroom. As a straight up platform in that sense, I kinda like it for it’s simplicity. I think the insight of bringing all the hangouts into one page is pretty wicked… a nice smarty pants move.

The challenge, for me, is in the breakout. In the first session we did, I dropped a shared google presentation doc in the chatroom and had people contribute a slide per room in an attempt to create an artifact of the whole conversation. They worked hard at it… and I’m not sure what i was hoping for… but i don’t think i got it. We got 25 minutes of dead air in the central conversation and then they returned and i tried to go over the slides and do a recap for everyone. Not ideal.

The second time I tried to hop from hangout to hangout using a secondary computer. That was fun, and i got a chance to chat with folks, but I tended to interrupt too much (not the technologies fault but mine) and we still had the challenge of a dead air recording.

Time three we pretty much ignored the breakouts and I invited people into the main conversation. IT made the recording listenable, but not so many people got a chance to talk.

I’m not sure what I would need to make the breakouts work… anyone have any ideas?


I’m not sure how possible it would be, but what if you could add a window into the breakout hangout in the live hangout? So that while everyone is busy, you can check in on some of the breakouts. Still won’t solve the interruption problem and continuity may be a problem for the live broadcast.

Hey, Dave. Thanks for sharing this. I feel like even listening to your frustrations has helped my thinking a bit. One thing I tried with unhangouts that’s worked well is having a lead facilitator in each group. Then those people pop into a separate hangout at a specific time to update you. It’s still a bit clunky but stops the dead air problem from happening. Would love to try out some of these ideas during our next Edcamp Online with unhangouts. Cheers, K.

It’s a bummer that Google Hangout doesn’t allow you to be in two hangouts at once. It’s hard to be in the main one, and pop into others.

Also think a great feature would be a box in all unhangout breakout rooms that facilitators could post links in (a la googledocs) or an alert message (come on back to the main lobby folks!).

I don’t know how much active development is going on with Unhangouts right now, but @1L2P would know. He’s asked for input about impact and these learnings will be very useful. Thanks for posting @coarsesalt and @kristenswanson!

The alert message feature is done. I’m not sure we’ve pushed it out to the production server yet, but the feature exists and works. It let’s admins send broadcast messages to all active hangouts.