Streaming of a ‘live’ class event
This is the technology of choice when running a blended learning course in which some of your students will not be able attend in persona to the face-to-face teaching events held at Harper Adams.
These students fall into two categories:
(i) students who wish to attend the live session remotely
(ii) students who will not be available at the scheduled time but wish to look at a recording of the session at a later time of their choice
For the first group wishing to attend the scheduled session requires an arrangement where they will be able to log into the classroom session at Harper and participate by audio, chat and possibly also video.
To this effect the classroom session should be captured both in video and audio (including the students physically present in the room) as well as the tutor and his/her presentations on the PC screen.
At the same time the live session needs to be recorded including the Chat log for subsequent dissemination via the Learning Hub
To achieve this there are three possible software solution
a) Using GoToMeeting in combination with our Logitech enterprise video-conferencing hardware which will capture video/audio/PC screen.
Relevant links with session-ids will be send out by the tutor to all the participants who will join on the day using a suitable device (PC/laptop/tablet/smartphone).
A main advantage of this software is that the session control can be handed over to other remote participants who could than share their desktop if required.
Whilst the session runs from the projector PC capturing the video and audio stream only the tutor can join the session with their laptop set to screen-sharing only and a moderator can join with a second device (e.g. a tablet handling the chat stream (with audio inactive)
The setup can be arranged for most teaching rooms at Harper but will need to be booked in advance.
After the session the recording needs to be converted into mp4 format and uploaded onto the Harper media server with a link placed on the relevant module page.
The Chat-log needs to be copy/pasted into a Word doc and possibly edited to take out irrelevant communication threads. The file is then converted into pdf and uploaded on the relevant module page next to the media file.
b) Creating a YouTube-based live stream. This is a more labour intense solution to set up but given the wide use of YouTube possibly more intuitive. The room needs to be setup with a dedicated camcorder/tripod, and two audio inputs, one lapel mic for the presenter and one room mic for the students in the class. The screen capture from the desktop PC comes via a free software called Desktop Presenter.
All this media is put together by an expensive piece of kit called the Teradec Cube which recodes it and then transmits it via GoogleCloud to a specific YouTube account and channel and to a session which has been created for the event. Students will need to be sent the unique URL created for this event.
YouTube will automatically record the event and store it for a few days but remain ‘unlisted’ and can thus not be searched by people outside.
YouTube also provides a Chat-based window which may be used for text-based communication.
The disadvantages of this solution are that there is no two-way communication outside text, that the session cannot be handed over to the remote user at any time and that there is a delay of about 10 seconds between the local presenter’s audio stream and the remote user receiving it which has some implications when narrating slides in class and remote interaction.
c) Virtual Classroom software
There is a third option in the form of a dedicated Virtual Classroom software solution such as Adobe Connect which not only provides for some classroom interaction (raising hand, polling, use of emoticons) but also the potential use of dedicated break-out rooms for online collaboration in addition to the traditional plenary room. If used in combination with a stylus/ink tool there are also opportunities for drawing and annotation.
We are looking into evaluating such software and if affordable we will add this to our repertoire of blended learning and teaching tools.