Live Streaming @school My experience thus far

"Have you joined the Meet from your iPad?

Is your mic on?"

These are just some of the questions students might hear in their classrooms these days. With Grade 12 learners going back to school in early June, and the next wave expected in about 10 days, schools have had to adjust to a new way of learning. Quickly.

What I have come to realise is that, as with any edtech, there is no "one size fits all" solution. What works for one school might not be the best option for another. At Rustenburg Girls' High we are fazing in iPad devices across the school, with about half of the learners currently on our 1-1 program. Teachers have Windows desktop machines in their classrooms. You may already start to see the hurdles we have to overcome...

Our current set up involves using Google meet and their live streaming and recording option. This is currently free due to the Covid-19 crisis and was a no-brainer as we already use GSuite across the school.

Getting the streaming to work required some careful planning and testing given our mixed environment. Recording and live streaming is not possible from a mobile device, but our desktop machines are not equipped with microphones or webcams...

My favourite app!

We also make use of the fantastic iPad app "Explain Everything" to create our material, and therefore need to use the iPad to present from. Using a combination of both devices, we have created a system that works very well for us.

Teachers post their lesson material online well in advance of the lesson (this includes resources and the link to the live stream) and after a few lessons, teachers can generally set up their lesson and then continue teaching as they normally would, focussing on the learners in front of them while at the same time giving those at home access to an experience that is as close to being in the classroom as can be.

Our problem is that we need to start thinking about the process going forward post Covid-19 as we would very much like to continue live streaming and recording our lessons. Google will start charging for these services come September, so we are currently evaluating all options. Google is offering a promotional price, however like most schools, we spend a lot of money on hardware and try to be frugal when it comes to software. If there is a free solution, we will most certainly investigate!

I've been playing around with jitsi meet and so far it looks very promising! Effectively it works in the same way, but it uses YouTube live streaming. This comes with a few benefits, such as easier access to data and analytics (you can see in real time how many people are watching your live stream) to naem but one.

We are so pleased that we are able to offer this to our students who are unable to attend school and we are excited about the possibilities that this provides. We no doubt will continue evaluating our current setup and I will update here if there is anything new and exciting to report!


Created with an image by Chris Montgomery - "Zoom call with coffee"