Google Helpouts and Self-blended Learning

I’m sitting in a session at Google, listening to Daniel Arnold (Marketing Manager, Google Helpouts), talk about the vision behind Google Helpouts. The concept is simple. Create a way for people to have one-on-one video chat to “help out” with a question that they might have about a pertinent topic: a student struggling with math homework, a new parent with a question about changing diapers, a person starting a new business and seeking help on where to start, a person with flu symptoms seeking quick advice, or maybe someone wanting a few tips on a hobby.

My first experience with Google Helpouts was on December 16, 2013. I wanted tips on how to host my first Edcamp. I was delighted to see that Kristen Swanson was part of the pilot phase of Helpouts. So, I set up an appointment with her on the 15th, and chatted with her the next day. It was short, simple and straightforward; much like meeting for a Google Hangout. Kristen fielded my questions, shared a few tips and we disconnected. I”m not the type to have video chats with strangers, but this was a surprisingly natural and informal experience.

Listing to Daniel, this resonates with my ongoing reflection about student-initiated blended learning (what I’ve called self-blended learning in other posts). While educators and schools are embracing blended learning at a rapid rate, some students are already there; designing their own blend of face-to-face and online learning experiences to meet their learning needs.

From this perspective, Helpouts is likely to become another tool in the student-led blended learning toolbox. Are you struggling with a concept in a course and not getting what you want or need from a teacher? Find someone on Google Helpouts to provide free or inexpensive help? Do you have a high-stakes paper due soon and your teacher is not providing substantive feedback? What if you could connect with a different English teacher or an editor who would walk through the paper with you in a short 20-minute video chat?

Of course, this is possible apart from Helpouts, but this might be the tool to make connecting with experts easier and more accessible. I look forward to seeing how this plays out in the upcoming 12-18 months.



5 Replies to “Google Helpouts and Self-blended Learning”

  1. Bernard Bull Post author

    I am in the same situation, so I asked about that. They explained that they are keeping their pilot focused upon specific niche area, but they will be expanding that over time. It does seem like they are being rather restrictive.

  2. ralphsherman

    I agree that this will be a game changer. However, I have applied twice to get a Helpout account and have never received my code. I don’t understand why they are promoting that people should use and or contribute to the Helpout tool when at the same time they are restricting who can get an account. Did they address this issue in the Hangout that you were engaged in?

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