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Google Helpouts will connect experts, info-seekers

Using Helpouts, students could connect with subject-matter experts

Google-HelpoutsA new Google service, called Helpouts, connects people who need help with those who can give it in virtual, real-time tutoring or advice sessions. While not open to the public just yet, the Helpouts service is being positioned as a way to connect students with tutors or to connect subject-matter experts with anyone who has a question.

Helpouts providers can choose to offer their services for free, or they can charge for their sessions. If a session is fee-based, providers and customers will use Google Wallet. Providers must be 18 or older, and customers must be 13 years old or older.

While services may be fee-based, the potential is great for school leaders and educators to collaborate with one another or access quick mobile help. Helpouts also may be useful for students who need help with courses they are taking online, whether they are full-time online students or are simply taking online courses to supplement their brick-and-mortar schooling. For instance, a student whose school doesn’t offer a German language class may opt to take a German course online. That student could use Google Helpouts to access real-time, immediate help from a German teacher or other qualified expert who has submitted credentials to, and been vetted by, Google Helpouts.

According to Google’s Helpouts page, people will be able to choose who they receive help from based on that person’s qualifications, availability, ratings, and reviews. Helpouts will be accessible from any device–making it a nice option for BYOD schools or for students who might use a school device during the day and a personal device, with a different operating system, at home.

(Would you use Google Helpouts? Take our poll on Page 2)

Helpouts providers go through a review process once they submit a Helpouts listing, and if the Helpouts provider is providing a medical service as a regulated healthcare professional, the provider’s certificate or licensure will be verified by a third party. Then, Google will review the provider’s listing and connect via video with the provider to discuss further details.

Users will need a Google+ account to use Helpouts. Helpouts supports Google Chrome, Microsoft Internet Explorer 10+, Mozilla Firefox, and Safari. In addition to compatibility with Mac OS X, Windows, and Chrome, it also works with Ubuntu and other Debian-based Linux distributions. Helpouts are recorded unless customers opt out.

The Helpouts service is not live yet, but those who are interested in joining Helpouts can let Google know.

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Laura Ascione

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