How to Use Technology: Google Meets

As of now, pretty much everyone has been in at least one Google Meet. Some people like them, others don’t, but one thing is for sure in many cases, they help learning from home. While some classes, like physical education, don’t have class-long Meets, many classes such as English and math absolutely do. In these cases, it helps to know how to use a Meet as efficiently and easily as possible. 

First of all, your microphone is probably muted for most of the class (if you’re a student), and turning it back on can sometimes be difficult. Fortunately, there is a keyboard shortcut to do this, allowing you to respond to questions in a timely manner. Just press Ctrl+D to turn your microphone on and off. For the camera, it’s Ctrl+E. If you look at the upper right corner of your screen, you’ll see your screen as it is seen by others. This is an easy way to see if your mic and/or camera are off or not. 

Many of your classrooms have a Meet link in the upper left corner of the screen. Clicking this as a student will take you to a Google Meet that your teacher has set up, but will not create a Meet if the teacher isn’t there, which many teachers are unaware of. Once on a Google Meet, a teacher can hit the present button to either display their entire screen, an entire application (such as chrome or a seperate camera feed), or a single chrome tab. Do note that presenting does not present audio on the screen; only your voice. The presentation takes up the majority of a student’s screen, and anybody who is talking is displayed in one of three boxes on the side. The other people cannot be seen. 

While not in a presentation, you can click the three dots in the lower right hand corner, then click on “Change Layout” to change the screen layout. Auto changes the layout automatically. It will almost always change it to a tiled mode, but with a lower maximum capacity. Tiled changes it to a series of equal-sized boxes. You can use a slider at the bottom of the “select screen layout” box to adjust the maximum amount of tiles that will be shown on your screen. Spotlight will only show one person, and it will switch to whoever is talking. Sidebar has one person, like spotlight, but it also has the most recent speakers in a bar off to the side. Presenting will automatically switch everyone in the meet to sidebar view, with the presenter taking up the largest box on everyone’s screens. In the upper right hand corner, there is a People button. This button allows teachers to view, invite, mute, and kick people from the meet, and students can use it to view who is in the meet. For teachers, there is a grid next to the People button that they can use to change what you see on their screen. It does not affect what students see. Hovering over it allows for more advanced control. 

There is also an extension you can download from the Chrome Web Store (press search and type in “Web Store”) called “Nod” that allows you to use emotes. Once it’s downloaded, there will be two buttons in the upper left corner of the meet. For an unknown reason, this does not appear in all Meets. When it is there, there will be a button you can press to raise your hand. Your hand will remain raised for a considerable amount of time on everyone’s screen, and should disappear when you talk. Next to the “Raise Hand” button, there is a selection of emotes you can use that will pop up on everyone’s screens for a couple seconds, then disappear. You can also change the skin color used for emotes.

 Lastly, there is a captions button in the lower right corner. It generates captions based on what people say, going up to five lines of text if one person is speaking, or two lines of text for one person and one line of text for another before it begins deleting captions. This allows you to see what you missed if you space out for a second, and it also allows you to get a general idea of what people are saying, even if your computer is muted. The captions aren’t perfectly accurate, but they should fill in some blanks. Keep on Meet-ing!

Quick Reference

Keyboard ShortcutFunction in Meet
Ctrl+DToggle mic on and off.
Ctrl+EToggle camera on and off.

Zack Robinson, Staff Writer

Junior Zack Robinson is a staff writer for the 2020-2021 Colonel. He likes cats, reading, fencing, and video games. You can usually find him playing Warhammer 40k, Dungeons and Dragons, or Magic the Gathering with his friends.

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