I had my first experience videoconferencing with Google Chat today, and it was VERY positive! Mike Dronen of Stillwater Public Schools in Minnesota chatted with me.

First Google Video Chat with Mike Dronen

After installing a small program on my computer from Google, I was able to connect directly via video with others in my GMail contacts list who also had video cameras connected to their computers.

Install Google Voice and Video

I did have to use the Safari web browser to successfully use Google Video Chat, rather than FireFox for some reason. In FireFox, not all my GMail contacts with video capabilities showed up, but they all did in Safari. This worked great! I’m going to try using Google Video Chat for a keynote address I’m sharing next Monday during the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday for Mike’s school in Minnesota. We’ll have Skype as a backup, but I think it will be great to use Google Video. The quality of today’s call was excellent, although not quite as good as I’ve seen with iChat. The ease of use with Google Video Chat was superb.

I am interested to learn more about how the firewall traversal methods of Google Video Chat compare to Skype and iChat. Generally I find Skype to be much better at traversing network firewalls than iChat, but both can (and often do) have ports blocked by school districts and the network management companies which handle content filtering. I’m thinking Google Video Chat may have privacy advantages over Skype when it comes to student uses too. There is not a comparable “Skype Me” status option in Google Video Chat, for example. That feature of Skype can be problematic, since it opens up the user (who could be a student) to ANYONE in the Skype community directly contacting them. I don’t think this can happen with Google Video Chat.

On a related note, I learned yesterday that the new Skype beta application for Macintosh (2.8) finally supports screensharing! I have not tried it out yet, but hope to soon. The latest stable release of Skype for Mac (2.7) has improved video resolution, supporting up to 640×480. Outstanding!

For a great, recent example of classroom use of Google Video Chat, see my post from January 9, “Eric Langhorst demonstrates the power of Google Videoconferencing in a US history classroom.” More resources related to videoconferencing in the classroom are available on my wiki page “Videoconferencing Collaborations and Virtual Field Trips.”

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  • http://ransomtech.edublogs.org/ Steve Ransom

    I have already used the screensharing function of the new Skype beta for OS X and it works really well… full screen looks amazing.

  • http://www.wesfryer.com Wesley Fryer

    That is great to hear, Steve. The fact that Skype is cross-platform is SO important. I’m eager to give it a try. Skype’s support of screensharing is actually a compelling reason to use it over Google Video Chat at this point, if a remote presenter wants to “drive their own slides” they are sharing.

  • Danika Barker

    Do you know if google chat allows for conferencing between more than two people?

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  • http://www.wesfryer.com Wesley Fryer

    No, Google Chat is just one to one videoconferencing at this point. iChat and ooVoo both support multiple folks in a video call, as does bridged H.323 videoconferencing.

  • Amabo

    Welsey-
    I recently ran across a really neat web based conferencing service called PalBee. There was a review of at http://www.thetechteacher.libsyn.com We have been testing and look forward to using it with our “home-bound” program.

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