Broadcast your class live every day, every period, all day. Benefit #1 – Parents can tune in and see what their child is doing. Benefit #2 – Students who are sick at home can still learn while laying in bed, assuming they are not too sick to do so. Benefit #3 – Most broadcasting tools will simultaneously record thus providing a video archive of class events, class activities, quality of instruction, a chance to review and reflect on your own teaching methods, plus also provide the context behind class disruptions and distractions.
By the time you are done reading this you will likely have generated your own thoughts or list of benefits for broadcasting and recording class live. Please share in the comments below.
To be upfront about things, very few parents have actually watched class live. I would love if more parents would embrace the opportunity but I also realize people are busy and may not have the tech to do so. Nonetheless I still feel it is important to provide the service.
The first concern most educators have is privacy issues of students. The second concern is whether parents will allow their students to be on video. Lastly, will admin allow live video in the classroom.
Hopefully my answers to these concerns will ease your mind and bring confidence to your live broadcast pursuit. The truth is all three concerns can be answered easily. It is all about the parents. The admin I have worked with have been supportive of the things I want to do as longs as parents are on board. When I first started broadcasting I sent home a form for parents to read and sign. Basically the form asked permission to share the students image publicly. It also asked permission to share video of students working in class or participating in school events. Most parents signed the form and sent it back with students. If parents would not sign the form or indicated they did not want their child on video then I would position the student off camera. It is true that audio of the student might make it into the video and that class activities might bring the student into view temporarily. Parents realize this is the case and have been very understanding. Currently the district I teach in has an acceptable use policy which covers my classroom needs. In addition to that I have adopted an opt-out plan. Handouts go home, emails are sent, and unless I hear otherwise students will be on video. Video quality of my broadcasts also helps to add a small level of privacy. Check the video below. I have considered finding ways to add a password to the broadcast to help maintain privacy but that would make it less likely parents, students, and admin will actually check out the class. When people walk into my room I tell them to be aware that there is a live video feed and they are on camera. Most people do not mind. The ones who do mind do not stay in my room long or pretend it does not bother them.
Validity of broadcasting live doubled for me when we had a class activity and I reminded the students the video was live. Students asked if they could text the link to parents. A few parents tuned in and were actually texting back to the student and responding to some of the questions we were asking. This had been one of my goals from day one. Needless to say I was thrilled.
Broadcasting can also be used to share what is happening in your class with other parts of the school, city, state…… Last year I occasionally emailed teachers a link to the live feed so other classes would be able to watch us feed the class snakes. We have had guest speakers and video chats where other classes participated from different rooms (Google Hangouts On Air can also work as a video conference tool like skype but with Google 10 different people/classrooms can join the discussion). Some schools have used live broadcasting to share athletic events, band concerts, and poetry readings with the public. Imagine the family of a student in another part of the world tuning in to see their grandson graduate from high school. Or a father or mother serving in the military watch their child perform in the school play.
If the fun side of broadcasting class did not get you, then maybe the practical side will. -When are you being recorded on video? If you are a teacher you must assume you are always being recorded. Whether it is in the halls at school by the security cameras or in the classroom with sneaky students and their cell phones. Some teachers try to maintain an extreme level of control over device use in the class. I feel appropriate use of electronics in class is important, but it is tough to monitor everything all the time. Frankly, that type of vigilance can make a teacher go crazy and cultivate a level of mistrust between students and the teacher.
The why should I broadcast class – the “cover your butt,” side of the argument.
- Most video recordings do not cause problems for people unless they are viewed out of context. If you live broadcast and record your class then you have the whole context of the event or activity that might be called into question.
- If a student claims to have been bullied or mistreated by another student you can look at the video later and see what happened.
- Thefts can be solved as well. We were able to get a students ipod returned to them because of the video recording.
- It is important that we stay professionals, but if you lose it for a moment or two, you will have evidence behind the outburst.
- On the other hand, if you behave in a way that is questionable, there is video proof of the misstep. You will need to be willing to accept the consequences for things you do wrong.
It is important to keep in mind that the video doesn’t catch everything. You will need to decide when you think using the video “as proof” is necessary compared to when it is not. Just because one student threw a piece of paper does not mean you need to watch 30 min of video to catch the culprit.
Nuts and Bolts
There are a couple streaming services available to broadcast your class. I have used Ustream and LiveStream. Currently I use Google Hangouts On Air. A $20-30 USB webcamera from your local store and a Gmail/Google+ account. The quality of the video will not be the best but it will be enough to provide a decent service depending on your needs. Google Hangouts On Air automatically saves the video to your youtube channel. This is great because you can then organize playlists to post on your class website. “But I don’t want my students on youtube!” You can change the setting of videos to “unlisted” which will make the video unsearchable through youtube or google. However if you share the link to the individual video it will be viewable to anyone who has the link.
When you start a Google Hangout On Air, the live feed can be found on your Youtube channel. So on the homepage of my class website I have a link that takes viewers to my Youtube page. There they will be able to click the “live” feed.
To wrap up, there are lots of reasons you should live broadcast your class. Overcoming your fears of problems might be the only thing that is standing in your way. From my experience the benefits far out weigh the problems. If you need help getting started, I’m here. 🙂
If you have questions or comments I would love to hear them. Thanks!