January 13, 2013

Hanging out with Google and National Geographic

Posted by Dr. Laura Guertin

Today is National Geographic’s 125th birthday – happy birthday, NatGeo!  I saw via Twitter that National Geographic was going to mark the occasion with a Google Hangout on Air, but not just any hangout!  National Geographic was pulling in explorers from across all seven continents to share their experiences, most exciting (and scariest) moments, predictions for future discoveries, etc.  After seeing the description on the National Geographic website, I had to join in – at what other time would I be able to see Jane Goodall, Bob Ballard, and other heroes of mine?  OK, it wasn’t exactly the same as seeing each individually “live,” but seeing this conversation was quite an event, and it is all archived in YouTube.  There was even a Google Map with more information about each explorer.

I saw many postings on the Google+ page for National Geographic from people having trouble accessing the hangout – I believe it was people that had gone to the page early and didn’t refresh the page once the stream started.  I know I was a few minutes late to the hangout, and I think this is still an issue for Google+ users.  But it will be interesting to see the continual expansion and use of Hangouts on Air in the future.  I think this is an excellent tool for educators, especially K-12 teachers, to use in their classroom to connect their students with people and communities that would otherwise not be possible.

I can’t wait to see the reaction of my students when I tell them in class that I “hung out” with Jane Goodall this past weekend!