This past week, I was browsing around on Facebook and saw a post from the Green Bay Packers Facebook page about a "Google+ Hangout with Aaron Rodgers" taking place the following week on August 28, 2012. Being a Packers subscriber of everything, I also received an email about this, saw a Tweet and saw a Google+ mention as well. For those that don't know, a "Google Hangout" is a group video chat. Think of it like Skype, but you can video chat (or 'hangout') with up to 10 other people. The Packers did one of these with Clay Matthews back in the spring if you want to see how it works. I use Google Hangouts all the time. I meet online with other colleagues when we work on group projects and record our Mobile Reach podcast through a Google Hangout as part of the Edreach network. I'm also hoping Google Hangouts can be our 'virtual meeting place' tool for Franklin Public Schools where I work (they need to still open up the full features to K-12 education domains...little pressure, Google!)
Quick awesome sidenote, Google Hangouts just recently rolled into GMail, so if you have a GMail account, you can start and participate in a Hangout with others. Brief video here explains.
So, saw the mention of this and saw that in order to be one of five selected to participate, you had to make a 30-60 second video of yourself explaining why you should be selected. Sat down at my computer on Wednesday night (Aug 22) and recorded myself talking about why I'd like to talk with Aaron Rodgers. Easy enough...
One little caveat here to something I mentioned in my video application -- I thought I would be notified in time to get questions from others (staff / students) but the time flow of things didn't work to my advantage. Still, I made sure to ask questions that I thought would be beneficial to any staff or students that see the final product. ;)
After the video was done, I followed their directions and responded to the Google+ post with a message and a link to my video...
On Friday (Aug 24), I received a Google+ message from the Packers account saying I was "in consideration" for the Hangout with Aaron Rodgers and to email an Packers.com employee account with some information about myself.
On Sunday (Aug 26), I received another email asking to connect over Hangout later that day to check and test settings for the Tuesday Hangout. Met online with Duke from the Packers organization to go over logistics and he told me I was one of 25 to be picked for the 5 seats and I would know more in the next 24 hours.
On Monday (Aug 27), I was leading a tech training in my district and didn't get to check email until around 11:30, but when I did, there was an email saying I was one of the 5 finalists! That means I was picked to "Hang Out" with Aaron Rodgers on Tues, Aug 28 @ 2pm CT! The Hangout was streamed live (through a cool feature called Hangouts on Air) and I made sure to OVER share the link through my Twitter account, Google+ and Facebook!
MY THOUGHTS PRIOR TO THE HANGOUT
So obviously the Packers and Aaron Rodgers fan side of me is super excited! I was told to prepare 5-6 questions and I have a few of my own. What would you ask? I wasn't able to get student questions like I said in my video because I had to submit the questions before I was picked. Hoping to do students, staff, family, Bears fans proud. ;)
The 'learner/technology geek' side of me wants to take a step back for a second and look at this. How cool is this from a technology and personal standpoint? More and more, we get to connect virtually online with others. I'm finding myself doing this all the time. How can we teach this to and impart this on our students to do things like this? To reach out to others through the internets and make a connection? I meant what I said in my video -- I want to showcase things like this to others so they can think, "How can I do that? How can I connect with an author of my children's stories? How can I connect with an engineer around a topic we are learning about? How can we connect more?" The technology is there. How are you as an educator going to use it?
MY THOUGHTS AFTER THE HANGOUT
What a humbling and surreal experience. It was pointed out to me by many that I was the 'oldest' one in the Hangout. Awesome. I was impressed with how conversational Aaron was. Very down to earth. Just wanted to talk. We were only supposed to go 15 minutes but he hung out with us longer and the total show ran 30 minutes. It was great to hear his responses and thoughts related to being a role model, how he learns something new and social media. The educator part of me is excited to hopefully use clips from this where he talks about NFL players using Twitter inappropriately or just being aware that pictures can be taken of you at any time. Some good content there. The fan part of me was really just overall impressed with how he carries himself.
Thanks to all for the kind thoughts, jokes, questions, and congratulations. Was a great time and I'm glad I was able to share it with so many.