Zoom allows you to host up to 100 attendees. Zoom also allows screen sharing, so you could have more than one leader in different locations running the meeting. It’s free to use for up to 40 minutes per meeting and allows you to quickly and easily share a virtual meeting with your Scouts. With a paid subscription, you can record and share your video later, and even attach files for your attendees to view.
Recently, there have been news reports about people "Zoom Bombing" meetings - joining meetings they have not been invited to participate in and causing disruptions. There are settings within Zoom that allow you to manage how people join the meeting or by creating "waiting rooms" requiring the meeting host to approve the person to join the meeting.
Many of us have a Google account, so Hangouts is a great option for hosting a virtual meeting. Most students are using this if they use Google Class Room. The free version of Hangouts allows you to connect to up to 100 people (in chat) and 25 in a video conference. There are fewer bells and whistles, but the trade-off is that it’s extremely easy to use and connects directly to your Google account, so there’s no need to upload a contacts list.
If you don't mind paying $12 a month, consider GoToMeeting, which allows you to host up to 150 attendees. Your attendees do not need a GoToMeeting account, all they need is your link or call in information for the meeting. GoToMeeting also allows screen sharing, so you could have more than one leader in different locations running the meeting. You can record and share your video later, and even attach files for your attendees to view. You can record and share your video later.
Most units have a Facebook presence, and Facebook Live could be the perfect option for your online meetings. Host a meeting live like you would in person… flag ceremony, Oath, Law, Outdoor Code, and activities. The perks of this free technology are that you can broadcast your meeting on your unit's Facebook group! You will want to have a group so that the meeting remains not open to the public. You can also see comments as they come in, allowing for question and answer time. The best part is that the Live broadcast will save as a regular post that can be viewed and commented on later! The down side is that you can’t share resources like files or presentations.
Skype is a very popular video conferencing tool used to connect families, classrooms, and businesses online. There is a free version that allows up to 10 guests on a video call, but there are interactive chats and you can record the video and share it later on social media. There are apps for both iOS and Android devices, and can be used on your Windows OS desktop computer. As the leader of the meeting, you’ll want to create a Skype Group meeting that you’ll invite people to via email, social media link, or text. You can record your meeting and share it later, and even click the paperclip icon at the bottom of your screen to attach images, files, or more.
Scoutbook should be your go to spot to not only record advancement, but is a great way of communicating. In Scoutbook you can send emails and texts to any individual or groups of individuals including, parents, leaders and even Scouts. Scouts and their parents can even mark advancement they have completed while attaching their own notes, images or videos as proof (these still require leader approval to be marked as complete). Scoutbook is a free service provided by the Boy Scouts of America and is our official unit management software. A complete FAQ and how to get started is available online.
Initially, you may think that Google Classroom is a virtual classroom where Scouts log on to take a Merit Badge class or take part in a Board of Review. While Google Hangout allows for that type of interaction, Google Classroom is different. Google Classroom is a platform for people to interact by posting assignments, engaging in discussions, and accessing materials to learn.
The process for setting up a Scout's account is simple. Your
first step in using Google Classroom and Hangouts is to create a Google
Account. Refer to the Google tutorial on creating an account:
Their instructor does most of the work (YPT). They will set up the classroom and provide a join code that is unique to each class. Once access has been granted, the Scout can get into their classroom anytime by going to https://classroom.google.com.
When Scouts log on, they see upcoming assignments, announcements, questions, and other important class information. Scouts can submit their work directly through Google Classroom, and instructors can provide feedback and even grade and return work to the Scout. All the Scout’s work stays organized and stored on Google Drive. Assignments are automatically added to the Google Calendar based on their due dates. Essentially, the Google Classroom is where all the learning is created, exchanged, and stored.
For Scouts who have different instructors for different subjects, multiple classrooms will appear. From their dashboard, they can choose the class they want to view. Once they enter a classroom, Scouts find three tabs at the top of the page.
The Stream tab can be compared to an interactive workbook. It's an outline of the course and an announcement page with a full overview of assignments and any posts the instructor adds.
The Classwork tab stores all the Scout's assignments. Here, they'll see each assignment that's been added by their instructor. When they click on a task, they'll get the due date, details, resources needed, and status of the assignment. Scouts also can turn in their work here once it's completed. They can add files or create slideshows and images to be submitted.
The People tab shows all the instructors and Scouts in the classroom. It's also a place where Scouts can communicate directly with one another or their instructor (YPT).
Like all the other Google apps, your Scout can access the full functionality of Google Classroom from virtually any device. Just be sure to add the other essential Google apps needed for success to their devices, like Google Calendar, Google Docs, and Google Drive.
There are several places where you need to be aware of Scouting’s Youth Protection rules. Let’s look at those now.