One of this year’s ISOC NGL courses at DiploFoundation offered its students a pretty neat, and, one can say, once in a lifetime chance to ‘hang out’ with Vint Cerf, Google’s chief Internet Evangelist and often referred to as one of the fathers of the Internet.
Vint Cerf’s direct communication with Diplo students used one of the new ‘hot’ internet services for mutual interaction: Google’s ‘Hangouts on Air’, but linking it to Diplo’s own online learning platform. This was partly to ensure some privacy, this was a course tutorial, but also because hangouts only allows up to 9 participants.
So how did this happen?
The idea came from the course tutor Tracy Hackshaw together with one of the course participants Dom Robinson (live video and streaming professional). The key challenge was implementing and synchronising Hangout with the other parts of Diplo’s learning platforms, in this case - Diplo's class chatroom.
Hangout is an environment where up to 9 people can simultaneously stream their video and audio (chat feature is also available). Considering the number of students attending the course (27) we couldn’t all fit into the hangout room. The solution was of course, live broadcast. This feature is a great addition to the ‘Hangout’ enabling a wider (in a case of a YouTube, the widest possible) audience and fast reactions in the form of comments, not to mention the possible soc-net sharing opportunities. And like most of Google’s services, there is no upfront financial cost.
Our course participants logged in their chatroom for the regular class lecture but with one tiny difference - Vint Cerf was there! For some of them, this was an overwhelming experience. This tweet from one of our students can describe it better - 'explaining how pathetic Nepalese Internet connection is… to the inventor of the Internet… its ecstasy!’
The Google Hangout started with Tracy, Virginia (Ginger) Paque, (Diplo’s IG director), Dom Robinson and Vint Cerf in the room. All of them were also logged into our chatroom. Students asked questions through the chat and got replies from Mr Cerf who spent an hour answering questions and interacting with the participants. Subjects varied from Net Neutrality and Privacy to 'the Interplanetary Internet’. More in a blog post by Tracy. The interplay of Hangout and Diplo’s online learning technology based on Open Source principles was great.
The whole session was broadcast live on YouTube (click here to view or click on the screenshot below).
In this new world of global communication, the boundaries for online cooperation, video sharing, remote participation and meaningful interaction through the web are constantly changing. Google, as one of the leading web motivators and a company with a clear image of ‘tomorrow’s Internet’ goes to the front of the line with this easy-to-use new solution.
Arvin Kamberi is DiploFoundation's multimedia coordinator. Follow him on @ArvinK