I live-streamed our Friendship-week concert from Portmarnock Community School last Friday.
This was the first time I tried something like this and I figured it out, over about an hour and a half, the night before.
I searched online using the terms like “live streaming from an iPhone 4s”.
The smartphone and a streaming application were my essential pieces of technology for this event.
I learned I had two streaming channel options that appeared to be “free” – Livestream and Ustream – I started with the former but quickly decided to use the latter, since Ustream seamlessly offered the embed code that I could place on the school-website (WordPress).
So I registered online with Ustream, created a channel called Portmarnock Community School, embedded it in the school website as below and then moved over to the iPhone.
I downloaded the Ustream App (free on the iTunes store), logged in with my new username and password and discovered I could literally “go live” with a couple of clicks. So a few tests at home: Kids upstairs looking at my testing, testing one, two, three routine from my office and we were nearly set to go. (Incidentally, a teacher from the school also saw me doing the testing routine! Live means LIVE).
I also paid at this stage, an in-app €3.99 to get an advert-free site for a month (via the iTunes Store). I also put a disclaimer on the school website that there may be adverts and that we had no control over them.
I got my camera-tripod out the next morning and modified it with a extension lead so that I could keep the iPhone plugged in and a big lump of Blu-Tack to sit the iPhone on. I know there are devices for this, but educators will realise that we teachers often work in Donald Schon’s “swampy-lowlands” of practice (but at least in this case, we had problems capable of technical solution!)
We successfully broadcasted with about eighty unique viewers, including one phone-call to the school switchboard asking could we re-arrange the camera for the pieces played on the schools grand-piano (we obliged).
It wasn’t pretty at times but it worked.
- that there was about a thirty-second delay on the stream
- that the closer we got the iPhone to the students, the better the image
- that the sound was surprisingly good off the iPhone
- to turn off alarms etc. set on the phone – they confused everyone!
- that we streamed better off my 3G account rather than the schools’ WiFi (I am trying to get a costing for my 3G usage)
- that Ustream had no time limits (I was sure they would had have, given its “free”). I reckon we livestreamed for about three hours
- we need to learn better camera-control and have someone ready to do some face-to-camera sessions, for the invariable delays between acts.
The only issue I had with Ustream on the day, is that the adverts did not disappear. They came in two varieties
- a film trailer (content appropriate )
- a pop-up chat with some Russian ladies, easily clicked out of (but we are a school…)
The latter may disappear since I have subsequently updated my profile on the Ustream site as an education user.
There is another area of potential difficulty in that the content is public and Ustream have a social-media platform that allows comments etc.
There is nothing wrong with this in itself other than the moderation requires. I have had no issues with this but it is something you need to be aware of. Like everything (i.e. with time, I am sure you can lock these down, as on YouTube).
I used an iPhone, but you can also use an android device or laptop/indeed desktop with a camera. I must admit I was impressed with the stability of the iPhone and the Ustream app.
I am not sure about the implications for teaching and learning but streaming certainly gives teachers and students an audience. You will need to advertise your event – parents will like watching their children online in a concert, but the application can also be used for other events.
It could also be a useful project for a small group of students to train as videographers and let them loose with the technology!
Schon, D.A. “Knowing in action: The new scholarship requires a new epistemology,” 1995, Change, November/December, 2734.
Photos: Donal O’ Mahony