My students have been asking for online tutoring sessions. At school, it is often done by other teachers, and all of them use the Facebook Live platform. It is generally well-received, but I don't have a Facebook account, nor have any interest in making another one. I'm inclined to use Google Hangouts (to allow them to send me voice messages), but I don't want them all to stay in the call, since their microphones will likely stay on and add noise to the call.

I expect to have about 50 simultaneous students watching, but only 5-10 will ever ask questions.

Is there a way to mute everyone but myself on a call, and then selectively unmute one of them on demand?

Or maybe mute everyone, but still allow them to send (short) voice messages?


This is not possible on the regular hangouts platform. It can have at max 15 participants. (25 if your school has Google Apps for Education)

Hangouts on air, however, will also only allow 15 (25 if you're on GAE) students to ask questions (actually participate in the call). The others will have to be spectators. But you can allow them to send you questions in text form (using the Q&A) feature of hangouts on air, and then answer them

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    You can actually have up to 25 participants on a hangout, 15 for the consumer version – AaronHatton Feb 23 '17 at 15:27
  • Thanks for the answer. My school has GAE, but even the regular limit (15) would be OK, I think. I don't think most students would mind being spectators. Should a student decide to speak, can I add him/her to the call temporarily and then kick him/her? This would accomplish everything I need, if possible. – Ramon Melo Feb 23 '17 at 15:56

In the hangout you will be able to mute each participant individually by selecting them and using the drop down menu (A down-pointing arrow). There are limits to the number of participants. 15 for the free generic Google accounts and I believe 25 if you have a G Suite for Education, Business, or Non-Profits. Another option would be to do a Live Hangouts On Air session but then they can only type questions.

  • Thanks for the answer. By muting someone on call, wouldn't they only be muted to me, but not to the others? – Ramon Melo Feb 23 '17 at 15:59
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    Muted is to everyone by my experience. Also, if you have an Education account, have you considered using a Google Classroom? There is no video chat capability, but there are other options which could make for a good tutoring experience. – Karl_S Feb 23 '17 at 16:29
  • Not really. I need video for the whiteboard (plus, I think it's more fun if they can see me), and isn't Classroom a full educational suite? We have tried Moodle at some point and the results weren't great, so I've become wary of committing to another educational suite. – Ramon Melo Feb 23 '17 at 16:41
  • Classroom should be part of you Google Apps for Education suite (Now G Suite for Education). You may need to talk to your GAE administrator. Look into the capabilities. You can have assignments and other items on demand and semi-interactive. It is different than Moodle as the approach is an interactive teacher/student type thing. I am suggesting it as an augmentation to a video chat. Create assignments in there, etc. which can be handled on demand and virtually and do a live video chat class as well. Think of classrooms as a web page for your class with some built in capabilities for a class. – Karl_S Feb 23 '17 at 19:16
  • I will look into it. I will likely have to submit it to the board before, though. – Ramon Melo Feb 23 '17 at 22:12

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