Live streaming is an excellent way to deliver school events like sports games, assemblies, lectures and graduation ceremonies to friends, family and even the students themselves. However, many schools are still on the ropes about taking their content live, worrying about whether the benefits really justify the perceived costs.
Truth is, the technology behind live streaming has become extremely accessible, and broadcasting to platforms like Facebook Live and YouTube Live is very simple thanks to their easy-to-use interfaces. With the majority of students and parents connected to social media already, websites like Facebook are ripe for broadcasting school-related videos.
Since the audience is already there, live streaming can reach your audiences with ease. But in case you’re not convinced yet, here are just 3 reasons why every school should start streaming:
1. It’s Actually Budget-Friendly
One of the reasons so many schools are jumping on the streaming bandwagon is because of its low barrier to entry. It’s very inexpensive to get started, and just about anyone with minimal technical experience can do it. In fact, if your school already has a video camera, the only thing you’ll need is a hardware encoder to connect it to and an Internet source to start streaming!
So what exactly is a hardware encoder and why do you need it? Without getting too into the technical details, an encoder is necessary to take the video/audio input from a video camera and convert it into a digital streaming format. Once converted, your video feed can be sent to any online video platform of your choice, including Facebook, YouTube, Ustream, and more. Just connect the encoder to a network connection (WiFi, Ethernet, or even cellular) and you’re ready to go.
So how expensive are encoders, really? Luckily, they’re very affordable! Teradek’s VidiU is one such example. VidiU is an H.264 encoder which can stream up to 1080p30 (high-definition) quality video at up to 5.2 Mbits per second. The video is sent from a video camera to the VidiU via HDMI, and can use either an Ethernet, WiFi or USB cellular modem connection to send that video directly to an online media platform of your choice.
The beauty of live streaming is that once you have an encoder for your video camera, streaming is completely free, depending on the platform you stream to, and it can be started or stopped at your own discretion. The only thing you’ll really need from there is a good Internet connection, which your campus most likely already provides.
2. It’s Easy To Do
A lot of organizations worry about not being able to understand the complicated technology involved in live streaming and stop short of giving it a real chance. While configuring settings like resolution, bitrates and RTMP publishing URLs may sound a bit daunting at first, Teradek actually makes it extremely easy to understand. VidiU’s UI is designed to be so simple that users with little-to-no technical experience can learn easily. Really, if you can use an iPad, you’ll have no problems using a VidiU encoder.
Another great thing is that once your encoder is configured, the presets will be saved and defaulted to for all future uses. This means that whenever you want to begin streaming, all you have to do is plug and play. This saves both time and confusion when trying to stream events on the fly at any school events.
3. It’s Educational and Helps Build a Sense of Community
Live streaming is quickly becoming the content distribution method of the future. Organizations large and small are using live video for everything from web shows to breaking news to major events like the New Year’s Eve ball drop in Times Square (which was streamed by production companies using Teradek devices).
Schools that have incorporated live streaming into their activities use these devices as learning tools, especially for prospective students of media production. Cleveland High School’s Jon Souders, instructor for the school’s Digital Media Productions course, has been teaching his students to use Teradek’s VidiU and Cube to live stream the school’s morning news program, football games, assembly events, and graduations for several years now. From camera operating to stream configuration, his students control the entirety of each production from start to finish.
“Live streaming helps student to develop the technical skills necessary for futures in both digital media tech and broadcasting. That’s why it’s important for students to get hands-on training working with technology like Teradek’s. The skills learned in this class translate over to post-secondary education and careers for our students,” says Jon Souders.
Exposing students to digital media production in school is an excellent way to instill familiarity and prepare students for future careers in the media technology field. While companies like Teradek design devices to be viable for the everyday user, there are many parameters available that allow inquisitive minds to fine tune their streams.
Live streaming also presents an opportunity to make school events very accessible for students and their families. Lectures streamed online can be watched by students unable to physically attend the class that day so they don’t miss out on important material. Special events like recitals or guest speakers can be watched from home if tickets are sold out. Sports games could be watched by people who are not able attend in person. When friends and family can rely on schools to help connect them to their students, it makes for a happier community overall.
With more and more schools incorporating live streaming into their daily activities, video in the education world is rapidly becoming a norm. Websites like NFHSNetwork.com and TheCube.com have sprung up specifically to bring this type of content to viewers, with some schools garnering thousands of views per stream. With a clearly rising demand for more access to school-related content and low implementation costs, there is no better time to start broadcasting your school events than now.