Why the Fear of Google Hangouts On Air?

A little more than a week ago, Derek wrote a meandering post about how faith in the Philadelphia 76ers’ “process” of losing over and over again is akin to having faith in the power of Google Hangouts On Air (the free broadcast platform we use for CMEpalooza).

Frankly, he lost me about 2 sentences in – not that that is terribly unusual. I remember there was something about the Bible, a reference to Growing Pains (where have you gone Joanna Kerns?), and maybe a commentary on 17th century French politics. Like I said, it was all pretty confusing.

The one thing I can agree with, however, was Derek’s admonition that you don’t need to think of Google Hangouts on Air (GHOA) as this scary, complicated monster that requires years of testing and training to figure out. As Paul Pasqualoni (Google him) would so ineloquently say, “It ain’t rocketship science.”

Unfortunately, I get the sense that the majority of the healthcare community still sees GHOA’s as this mysterious platform that they don’t even want to mess with. It’s unfortunate, as my experience using GHOA’s to deliver accredited education has shown that faculty overwhelming enjoy using the platform once they understand how simple it is and how it can be a powerful way to reach learners.

Don’t believe me? Take a quick look at a broadcast I produced this week at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tN6mtgaT1Ao (note that this was actually not an accredited program, but the content is similar to what one would expect from accredited education). This is just one example of many in my personal portfolio.

You had 4 individuals on the call – 1 from her office and 3 from their respective homes. Does it look different than a studio broadcast? Yes, of course. But is the quality of the education any worse? Is it more complicated to follow along with? I’m biased, but I really don’t think so.

I’ve done quite a few Google Hangouts over the course of the last 5 years, both as part of CMEpalooza and as part of my other day-to-day responsibilities (indeed I have a “real job” as well). There have been very few issues over the years – I’m not saying the technology has always been perfect, but it’s usually worked exactly as it should. Oh, and you do realize it is FREE to use, right?

That said, I am not personally familiar with anyone else in the CME field who has used the GHOA platform to broadcast a live discussion or event (yes, you can film a live symposium/event and use GHOA to broadcast it live if you think creatively). If I’m wrong, please point me toward another example.

At this point, since it’s not new technology and we’ve consistently shown through CMEpalooza how GHOA’s can work and work well, my questions to other CME providers are these:

What is preventing you from using the GHOA platform for enduring education? Is the technology still too new and mysterious? Are you afraid potential funders won’t understand it (and fund it)? Are you afraid faculty won’t want to give it a try?

Next week at the World Congress of Continuing Professional Development, Derek and I will be pulling back the “magical curtain” and demoing how easy it is to set up and use a GHOA at an Innovation Lab session (11 a.m. PT on Friday). During our demonstration, we’ll walk learners through the simple, step-by-step process of how to set up and moderate a GHOA (yes, you too can learn our secrets!). There are a number of how-to videos and written guides online that we’ll probably plagiarize brilliantly adapt as a handout. Perhaps we’ll even post it to this blog when we’re done.

In the meantime, I’ll be curious whether anyone wants to provide any feedback on their views of GHOA as a platform for accredited CME either via comments to this blog or in person next week in sunny San Diego.

6 thoughts on “Why the Fear of Google Hangouts On Air?

  1. We did….We did!!! https://youtu.be/1T45B45to4c …We used it for our 1 hour lecture series. The first few were really challenging. The computer in our conference room did not have a camera, not to mention many like to wander so sound was not always good if the rpesenter walked away. We got a wireles mic, and chose not to use the video feature. Ultimately for reasons other than this we went to another product….thats not free….but…we needed the product for another purpose, and we figured we might as well use it for this purpose too, since we are paying for it anyway.

    1. Awesome – this is a great, simple example of adapting your available technology to the GHOA platform. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Hello CMEPALOOZA,

    Thank you for sending this note. My team is trying to do Google Hangouts for our meetings and you sent it about 30 minutes before our next google hangout. While we still have a couple of bumps along the way, we are really enjoying it!

    Sally Cook Compliance & Assessment Manager Education Department American College of Radiology 1892 Preston White Drive Reston, VA 20191 (703) 390-9833 (phone) (703) 716-1283 (fax) scook@acr.org

    1. Sara – Glad to see you are giving Google Hangouts a shot. As with any unfamiliar technology, it takes some trial and error to figure out what works best for you and your team, but my experience is that it doesn’t take too long to get the hang of the platform and smooth out most of the bumps.


    1. Andrea – this is a common question. There are a number of creative ways I have thought of where you can document participation for accreditation purposes, and that’s probably a topic for another future post. If you want to provide me with a specific scenario (ie, are you wanting to broadcast a live meeting, record a closed panel, etc.), I would be happy to come up with some potential solutions. Many of the broadcasts I have produced have been accredited, and I could certainly include some examples if you’d like.

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