Google has made a number of improvements to its video conferencing tool Google Meet over the past several months. Due to some limitations (lack of whiteboard, student’s ability to join a meeting anytime, and breakout rooms, to name a few) our district decided to move away from Google Meet and use Zoom instead.
However, as the school year has progressed, some teachers have noticed connectivity issues, glitches, and random issues that really impact the flow of the online classes the teachers are working so hard to create.
So, with the improvements that Google has made, for many of the teachers experiencing issues with Zoom, Google Meet can be a great backup plan. Here’s a comparison between various features across both platforms.
|Create a recurring link for classes to join||✔||✔|
|Students join only when host/teacher is present||✔||✔|
|Use phone for audio||✔||✔|
|Share Screen (Host/Teacher)||✔||✔|
|Share Screen (Participant)||✔||✔|
|Send chat messages (To Group)||✔||✔|
|Send chat messages (Privately)||✔||❌|
|Share files as attachments||✔||✔|
|Remove participants from meeting||✔||✔|
|Embedded polls in meeting||✔||❌|
|Share multiple cameras in one meeting (i.e. document cameras)||✔||❌|
|Record a meeting||✔||❌|
|Co-hosts (to help manage the meeting)||✔||❌|
As you can see, many features are available on both platforms. The key differences are that the ability to send private chat messages, create breakout rooms, embed polls in meetings, share multiple cameras, and record meetings are only available in Zoom. If you are a teacher looking for an alternative to Zoom (or a back-up plan) then Google Meet should be just fine.
Getting set up
There are a few things a teacher needs to do to get set up to use Google Meet with your students.
Enable your Google Meet Link in Classroom – This is important because Google Meet links work differently depending on how the link is created. Google Meet links created in your Classroom give you access to more host settings than if you created a link through Google Calendar or the Meet dashboard.
To do this, go to your Google Classroom. Then, click on the “Generate Meet Link” in the banner. You may have already done this. To view and manage this link, click on the settings gear in the upper right hand corner. Scroll down to the Google Meet settings. Here you can turn the link on or off, copy, or reset the link.
Adjust settings – The first thing you need to do after you start your meeting is click on the shield to go to host settings and turn off “Quick Access”. This will put students in the waiting room to give you time to verify they should be accessing the meeting and also prevent any students that might get the meeting code from another student from entering and distracting the meeting.
Additionally, you can choose to turn off students’ ability to share their screen or send chat messages. You can turn these settings on or off throughout the meeting, depending on your needs.
Please note, these settings don’t stick. They need to be changed every time you start the meeting, and for every class.
Admit the students – With “Quick Access” turned off, you need to admit students in one at a time. If this is annoying to you, you can opt to keep it on, and then turn it off once attendance is taken to prevent mid lesson distractions.
Change your layout – Depending on how many students you have in your class you may need to adjust your view to “Tiled” and then select how many tiles you want to see. You can have as few as one and as many as 49 tiles displayed in a meeting.
When it’s time for you to end the meeting, you need to make sure that you are the last person to leave the meeting. For meetings created in Google Classrooms, students are unable to join after the meeting has ended and you are the last to leave. If they attempt to rejoin the meeting within one minute of the meeting ending, they will see this message.
After that point, they will see this message, letting them know they are unable to join or create the meeting.
In meeting tools/features
Chat – Google Meet allows the host and participants to type comments and questions in the chat. Private chat among participants and the host is not available.
Whiteboard – Meet is integrated with Jamboard, Google’s online whiteboard tool. This allows you to create a collaborative whiteboard to be used in the class to brainstorm, provide feedback, or just play a quick round of Pictionary.
Captions – Integrated into Google Meet is embedded, real-time captioning to assist students with hearing impairments or other disabilities. Click captions on to display the text of what is being said in the meeting.
Present Now – To share your screen, click the “Present Now” button. You’ll be asked if you’d like to share your entire screen, a window, or a single tab. For best results when sharing a video for the class to watch during the meeting, choose a single tab.