Thing 9 & 10: Google Hangouts, Collaborate Ultra and Wikimedia

Thing 9: Video Hangouts, conferencing, & Collaborate Ultra for education

Thing 9 provides multiple options to take a moment to reflect on the many different video chat and conferencing tools and platforms available to us and becoming more and more a part of modern digital life.

Google Hangouts or Zoom are popular multi-person video chat platforms mostly  available to anyone with a computer and internet connection, and Collaborate Ultra is a virtual classroom/meeting tool used by the University. Choose whichever tool you would prefer to explore or something else if you wish! Does your institution use Microsoft Teams? Do your family and friends use Facebook video chat, FaceTime or another app?

Due to the global Covid_19 outbreak use of video chat software and platforms has increased for many people. Feel free to use this section to talk about your experiences using online hangout, video conferencing, and social video chat platforms during these times. How do you feel about video chat now?

Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts is the unified text and video service provided by Google. You can send text messages and video chat/hangout with one or more people at a time, or choose to broadcast your video hangouts publicly so anyone can tune in and watch.

It can be used to keep in touch, hold conference calls, broadcast a talk or event, and to provide an online space for teachers and students to chat/hangout. The University of Edinburgh ‘E-learning and Digital Cultures’ MOOC ran regular video hangouts each week for course participants.

Use the below links to explore use of Google Hangouts:

Google Support – Getting Started with Google Hangouts

WikiHow – How to use Google Hangouts

LinkedInLearning Google Hangouts Playlist – (You will be prompted to login as a University of Edinburgh staff or student)

Fun bonus: Google Hangout Easter Eggs

  1. Typing “/ponies” will show a single animated pony (similar to the ones from My Little Pony) prancing across the screen. There are a total of 21 different ponies.
  2. Typing “/ponystream” will unleash infinite ponies all running in different directions on your screen (only left and right). To stop the ponies type in “/ponystream” again.
  3. Typing “/shydino” will show a dinosaur hiding behind a house appear on the screen. To make the dinosaur and the house disappear, simply type in “/shydino” again,
  4. Typing “/bikeshed” will change the colour of the background of the hangout screen. The colour varies for all users on the chat.

Zoom Meetings

Zoom is an online video conferencing platform that provides one-on-one meetings, group video conferences, screen sharing, and a number of features. On some systems you can upload and select a virtual background to display when in a meeting or conference.

Use of Zoom has skyrocketed during the Covid19 outbreak with many professional and educational services switching to use the platform. High use of the platform has also increased scrutiny of its security and privacy policies.

LinkedIn Learning Learning Zoom tutorials 

 How to use Zoom like a pro,

Zoom boss apologises for security issues and promises fixes

Collaborate Ultra

Collaborate Ultra is a virtual classroom/meeting tool which comprises audio, video, interactive whiteboard, PowerPoint display, application sharing, polling, breakout rooms and session recording.  Collaborate Ultra is the newest version of the university supported virtual classroom and meeting tool.

It can be used for one-to-one meetings, tutorial space, student discussions or an informal chat. Collaborate is integrated with the University Virtual Learning Environments (VLE), Learn and Moodle, and MyEd.

Use the guidance provided by Information Services to explore using Collaborate Ultra.

Information Services: Introduction to Collaborate Ultra

Face-to-face “Introduction to Collaborate Ultra” training is also available from the Digital Skills team  via event booking in MyEd.

Collaborate Ultra  – Live Session

We will be running live Collaborate Ultra sessions throughout the year as part of the course. Keep an eye on the Events & Activities page, and the mailing list, for dates and times.

If you’re a University of Edinburgh staff or student you can also keep an eye our for the Digital Skills training sessions.

Not from the University of Edinburgh? Ask around and see if your institution/school/workplace offers a similar service. We’re definitely interested in hearing about it.

How to complete Thing 9

Write a short blog post on your experience using video chat and conferencing platforms and tools.

Worried about Zoom’s privacy problems? A Guide to your video-conferecing problems,, April 9th 2020

Thing 10: Wikimedia

The Wikimedia Foundation is the non-profit organisation that supports and operates Wikipedia, and they also support a wide range of open knowledge projects.

Wikipedia is the best known of these projects and is a free and open encyclopedia where anyone can view, edit, and ask questions. It is edited and written collaboratively by people from all over the world and anyone can edit and contribute.

Wikipedia has similar strengths and weaknesses to any other encyclopedia.


  • Most of the content is quite up-to-date. You can also view the date an article was edited at the bottom of the page.
  • You can ask questions of other editors by using the Talk pages.
  • The history of an article’s creation, who wrote it, and how  it was built, are transparent.


  • The articles can vary in quality and comprehensiveness.
  • At any given moment, an article may be in a vandalised state (although this is rare and heavily monitored).
  • Biases are unpredictable. (For example about 87% of Wikipedia’s editors are male and under 30. This creates a bias all on its own.)

Wikipedia is a great resource to ask questions and use as a launching point for further research. Wikipedia articles will include references and sources where you can verify the information being provided.

One of the best ways to understand a platform is to be involved and create with it, anyone can register to edit on Wikipedia.

The University of Edinburgh has a Wikimedian-in-Residence (Ewan McAndrew) who regularly runs Wikipedia training  (bookable via MyEd) and Wiki-edit-a-thon events which are a whole bunch of fun.

Find out more about our Wikimedian-in-Residence

How to complete Thing 10

Play The Wikipedia Adventure

The Wikipedia adventure is a game based tutorial designed to introduce a beginner to editing Wikipedia. The adventure tutorial takes around 1 hour to complete and can be paused and picked up again at any time.


If you don’t wish to create an account on Wikipedia as an editor, instead spend some time exploring one of Wikimedia’s range of open knowledge projects.

Write a short reflective blog post on what you have learned about Wikimedia.

Additional Resources – A virtual ‘editathon’ with videos and guidance on how to set up an account, experiment with editing, edit existing articles, and begin new articles. – Listen to the (zen) sound of Wikipedia’s recent changes feed. Bells indicate additions, and string plucks indicate subtractions. Pitch changes according to the size of the edit; the larger the edit, the deeper the note. Green circles show edits from unregistered contributors, and purple circles mark edits performed by automated bots. – Also by Hatnote, this is a collection of their favourite visualisations built on Wikipedia data.

WikiShootMe – is a tool to show Wikidata items, Wikipedia articles, and Commons images with coordinates, all on the same map.

Wikipedia Training lesson plan – Interested in running your own training sessions or editathons? Ewan McAndrew, our Wikimedian-in-Residence, has created a detailed lesson plan and accompanying slideshow to assist anyone in becoming a Wikipedia trainer and run a Wikipedia editing training session.