As of mid-June 2021, we have the ability to use a video as a background in Google Meet. You can select from three Google-made animated videos: a classroom, a party, and a forest. Or you can upload your own video. An mp4 file works well. You might have to update Google Chrome to see the new video backgrounds. Google says more video backgrounds and the option to use them via mobile devices are coming soon. Learn how to change the background in Google Meet.

Google’s “party” background is displayed in the example above.

When using this feature, please keep in mind that motion backgrounds can be distracting for some learners. Motion on the screen can be highly distracting to some folks. I experience this. I’ve had to hide someone with a TV on behind them by putting a sticky note over their video thumbnail while using Zoom. Flickering, rolling, or flashing patterns in videos can cause some people headaches, motion sickness, or even seizures (learn more about photosensitivity triggers), so try to choose a video with subtle or slow motion. For best results, look for a video where the camera isn’t in motion. It’s a good practice to check in with your audience to see if they need you to switch to a non-moving background.

Pixabay is a nice place to search for free stock videos. Here are a few of my current favorites:

Here are some ideas for using virtual backgrounds from our Active Learning Kit: Engaging Ideas for Live Online Instruction.

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