The use of social media is prevalent not only among the younger generation but also in all age groups. New technologies emerge constantly and many of the digital-age children seem to adopt them quickly without much effort. While a number of free online programs are available, not all of them are appropriate for educational purposes and some may only bring undesired outcomes to students. Especially, social media can cause serious problems in schools, such as cyber bullying and privacy and security issues (Mishna et al., 2010; Redecker, Ala-Mutka, & Punie, 2010). Educators should select a program carefully that meets the instructional goals, and provide appropriate guidance for students before using them. Proper use of social media can bring informal student-centered learning and develop student autonomy (McLoughlin & Lee, 2010).
Google Hangouts is one of the social media available through Google Plus (Duffy, 2013), and some innovative educators have been using it for instructional purposes (Isaacson, 2013; Roseth, Akcaoglu, & Zellner, 2013). Google Hangouts is similar to Skype, which provides a free audio/video conference along with a text chat capability. Both programs also offer a free mobile app, which makes it easy for iPad, iPhone, or Android users to access the programs. There are many other capabilities that are unique to Google Hangouts. Unlike Skype, Google Hangouts is free for a group conference and anyone who has Google Plus accounts can be invited to join the group conference. Videoconferences on Google Hangouts can be recorded and uploaded to YouTube for sharing. The user can decide whether they are shared publicly or only with friends. Furthermore, Google Hangouts allows screen captures, screen share...
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...on of the videoconference was expected to last about 45 minutes to one hour.
After the activity, the researcher distributed an online survey created with Google Form to assess perceived ease of use and usefulness of Google Hangouts. The survey was constructed based on the Technology Acceptance Model (Davis, 1989), and consisted of four sections: 1. demographic information and prior experience with Google Hangouts and/or any other web conference programs, 2. ease of use, 3. usefulness, and 4. feeling about the activity. The total of 30 U.S. and Japanese students responded to the survey. Data analysis was currently in process and will be completed in February 2014. The researcher intends to examine descriptive data for each construct and compare U.S. and Japanese data. Also, participants’ overall learning experiences will be analyzed based on their reflection writing.
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