Great tool to offer discussion and bring new voices into the classroom.
I think the idea of the Google Hangout is a great tool. Much like Skype, but due to it's creator, is super efficient in sharing documents in the process so there is live feedback and integration of the document, with conversation. The downside of this product was not due to it's own faults, but due to our district turning off the access to Google Hangouts on the student's Google Apps for Education accounts. This limited the amount of members in the Hangout to those who had their own Google accounts and I was able to invite those students into the Hangout. If you are using the iPads for students to use the hangout, use the app, much more efficient. Macbook or Chromebook, no issues unless the camera breaks. What would also be helpful is if you have a microphone so students towards the back of the room don't have to yell to be heard.
How I Use It
In process of teaching poetry, I had the opportunity to utilize a friend who was recently published. Her poetry was flooded with imagery and figurative language and the push to do the literary analysis is considering the context; historical, authorial, and cultural aspects of the poems itself. Many of my students would ask the question, "is this really what the poet was trying to say?" With a huge amount of these questions, I decided to give students my friend's poems and develop questions based on what they read and "quiz" the poet via Google Hangout. From the beginning of the period, students were able to listen to a live reading from my friend's apartment in San Francisco, California, and get answers to their burning questions, of did she really mean what she meant in her poem.
I had my account streaming from a Macbook Pro onto the Smartboard, so that my friend was blasted largely, then due to access, I had 4 students on iPads in different parts of the room on their own accounts--Not Google Apps for Ed accounts.
On the Horizon: I plan on trying to gain access to students in different parts of the world and doing a whole class discussion on a text/theme but in order for that to happen, I need a much bigger network and some other connections.