Update: An FYI that currently, Google+ is only open to individuals who are 18+. My guess is that when they open the service up to Google Apps users, it will also open to ages 13+. Hopefully that will happen very soon.
Today, Google+ came out of its limited field trial and opened up for everyone. That’s big news, but it’s not the biggest news of the day out of Mountain View.
Google+ Hangouts just added a slew of new features that make it an even more powerful tool for schools. Google describes the new additions in its blog post about the update:
Hangouts has always included a basic set of in-room actions (like group chat and co-viewing of YouTube videos), but we want to make it easier to do a lot more. That’s why we’re previewing some extras, including:
– Screensharing: for when you want to show off your vacation photos, your high score, your lesson plan or whatever else is on your screen
– Sketchpad: for when you want to draw, doodle, or just scribble together
– Google Docs: for when you want to write, plan or present something with others
– Named Hangouts: for when you want to join or create a public hangout about a certain topic (like fashion or music or sports…)
In addition, Google will be rolling out Hangouts On Air which will provide the ability to broadcast Hangouts to a large number of people and record the session for later viewing. Depending on how it’s set up, this new feature could become a direct competitor with LiveStream and UStream.
A few weeks ago I wrote about Hangout’s potential in education. These new enhancements allow for many more opportunities for Hangouts to become an extension of the classroom. I can’t wait to see how educators use it.