Talkabout — Help

Talkabout Support: Frequently Asked Questions

  How can I make sure I'm prepared for my discussion session?
  What happens if I arrive a couple of minutes late for my discussion session?
  What happens if I miss my discussion session?
  What do I do when it is time for my discussion session?
  I accidentally enrolled in the wrong discussion session. How do I change sessions?
  How can I change my account settings (name, email, password, time zone, etc)?
  How can I hide the discussion questions within the Hangout?
  Is it possible to disable video (webcam use) within a talkabout Hangout?
  Google Hangouts/Google+ does not work in my country. Can I participate in a talkabout discussion session?
  My friend and I would like to be in an discussion session together. Can I choose who I am grouped with for my discussion session?
  How are discussion session groups formed?

How can I make sure I'm prepared for my discussion session?

In order to participate in a discussion session, you need to make sure your computer is set up to participate in a Google Hangout.

1. Verify that you have a valid Google account:

While the Hangouts feature uses Google+, any valid Google account -- GMail, YouTube, Android -- will work. If you do not yet have a Google account, sign up for one here.

2. Install the Google Hangouts plugin:

If you have never used Google Hangouts, you will need to download and install the plugin from Google that supports group video calls. The plugin file is 13.4 MB. It is highly recommended that you take the time to download and install the plugin in advance of your discussion session time so that you are not late to the conversation. To install (or verify your configuration of) the Google Hangouts plugin, click on the button below that reads "Test your configuration now." A small Google Hangout widget should appear below the button. Click on the text that says "Join / Start the Hangout" within the widget. This will trigger a Hangout in a separate window, and will lead you through the plugin installation process if necessary.

Once installation is complete, you will see a Hangout window similar to the one shown below:

Configured

Here are the possible screens you would encounter...

If you have not yet signed up for a discussion session:

On the sign up page, all upcoming discussion sessions are displayed. The discussion sessions are listed in order of upcoming times. We do not allow late enrollment in discussion sessions, so once a start time has passed, it is no longer possible to join that discussion session.

Upcoming_slots

Once all discussion sessions times for a course have passed, it will no longer be possible to enroll in a discussion session.

All_timeslots_past


If you have signed up for a discussion session:

If you view the project page more than 15 minutes before the scheduled discussion session time, you may preview the instructions and discussion topics. However, you will not yet be able to join the Hangout.

More_than_fifteen

Starting 15 minutes before the discussion session time, and up to 15 minutes after the discussion began, you will be able to join the Hangout. To enter the Hangout, click the blue "Enter Hangout" button on the right-hand panel. Once you click this blue button, a small widget will appear in its place, prompting you to Start the Hangout (or Join Hangout). Clicking that button will launch the discussion session Hangout in a new window.

Within_fifteen

We do not allow students to enter a Hangout more than 15 minutes past the start time of the discussion session to avoid interrupting the ongoing discussion. If you missed your discussion session, you can re-enroll in a different time by clicking the "Enroll in another discussion session" link, next to discussion session Information on the right-hand panel. This will bring you back to the sign up page (labeled "Pick a discussion session time") to select from the remaining available times.

Discussion_ended


What do I do when it is time for my discussion session?

1. Starting 15 minutes before your discussion session, log in to Talkabout:

Log in to talkabout and navigate to your course's page with the information about your upcoming discussion session by following the "Join Hangout Now" button in the email reminder. You can also reach the same page by navigating directly to https://talkabout.stanford.edu/ and clicking on your course under Participating Courses.

Join_hangout_now

2. From within Talkabout:

On your course's page, click on the button that reads "Enter Hangout" on the right-hand panel. A small Google Hangout widget will take its place. Simply click on the Join / Start Hangout text to trigger the Hangout.

Hangouts_1 Hangouts_1a

3. From the Hangout window: If you are not already logged in to a Google account, you will be prompted to sign in

If you are not already logged in to a Google account, you will be prompted to sign in. While the Hangouts feature uses Google+, any valid Google account -- GMail, YouTube, Android -- will work.

Hangouts_2

4. Once you're logged in:

You will then be taken to a panel within the Google Hangouts interface. This page simply indicates the title of the Hangout you were placed into, and which classmates are already in the Hangout.

Hangouts_3

5. App permission request:

After joining the Hangout, you will be notified that the Talkabout app needs your permission. This app is developed by the Talkabout in order to support the discussion sessions, but requires your permission because it is a third-party application on Google Hangouts.

Hangouts_4

6. Accept requested permissions:

These items are the standard (most basic) permission items that Google requires for third-party applications. While this dialog box informs you that our app will "know who you are on Google+" we do not collect this information. Your public Google+ information is only visible to the application in the case that a Misconduct Report is filed for the Hangout, but does not remain in our system once the Hangout is over.

If you are unwilling to accept these terms, you may decline to use the app by clicking Cancel. You will still be able to participate in the discussion with your peers. However, we do not recommend this, because you will not be able to view the discussion agenda within the app or make use of the Report Misconduct feature if necessary.

Hangouts_5

7. Enjoy your discussion!

You're all set for your discussion! Within the Hangout app, take advantage of the discussion topics to help guide your conversation with your peers.

Live_hangout

I accidentally enrolled in the wrong discussion session. How do I change sessions?

From the course page, click on the "Change discussion session" within the Section Information panel on the right-hand side of the page. You will see a confirmation dialog asking you to confirm that you would like to change sessions. Clicking "Yes, change discussion session" will bring you back to the enrollment page with a list of all upcoming discussions.

Change-section

How can I change my account settings (name, email, password, time zone, etc)?

If you are logged in on talkabout, click on your name within the header toolbar on the top-right of the page. Select "Account Settings" within the tooltip. This will bring you to a page titled "Edit Account." Be sure to click "Update Settings" if you make any changes to your information before navigating away from the page.

Account-settings

How can I hide the discussion questions within the Hangout?

To temporarily hide the panel containing discussion questions, simply click on the blue  ×  indicated in the image to the right. You can view the questions once again by clicking the text that reads "Show Springboards for Discussion" (or "Show Agenda") along the lefthand side of the Hangout.

Hide-agenda-x Minimized

Is it possible to disable video (webcam use) within a talkabout Hangout?

We encourage you to keep your camera enabled to build common ground with your peers during the discussion. However, if you are uncomfortable or unwilling to appear on video to your classmates during the Hangout, you may disable your camera by clicking the camcorder icon in the controls panel on the top-right of the Hangout. The icon will have an orange background when the camera is disabled. Once your camera is disabled, your Google+ profile image (if set) and name will appear in place of your video feed. These are Google Hangout default behaviors and cannot be modified by the talkabout app.

Disable-camera Disabled

Google Hangouts/Google+ does not work in my country. Can I participate in a talkabout discussion session?

No, unfortunately it is not possible to participate in a talkabout discussion session if you are unable to access Google Hangouts. To our knowledge, Google Hangout is blocked in Iran and Belarus, and students in China and Vietnam have reported problems accessing Hangouts as well. We apologize for the inconvenience.

My friend and I would like to be in a discussion session together. Can I choose who I am grouped with for my discussion session?

No, it is not possible to choose which peers you will be grouped with during your discussion session. If you have an established group of peers that you wish to hold a discussion with, we suggest that you organize a discussion with those individuals independent of talkabout. Even if you and your intended discussion-mates were to sign up for the same discussion session time, we cannot guarantee that you will be in the same Hangout. See How are discussion session groups formed? below for more information.

How are discussion session groups formed?

For each scheduled discussion session time, there are several Google Hangouts running at once. As students join the Hangouts at their scheduled time, we automatically place them into a Hangout, and create new Hangouts when the existing ones fill up. This means that the group of individuals you will see in your Hangout is largely random because it depends on arrival time. Please note: You will not necessarily be in the same Hangout as someone else even if you sign up for the same discussion session time.