Today’s Contributor: Jennifer Byer
I am Jennifer Byer at Bernice Hart Elementary ECP School in North Austin. I have just started at Hart as CIC, but previously served as CIC at Campbell Elementary for one year. I am also the librarian and co-webmaster at Hart. I have been a librarian on and off in Austin ISD for 11 years. In my spare time, I enjoy traveling, cooking and reading. Twitter: @hartreadersroc1
Our journey from PA to Live Streaming took place over a few weeks.
Things to Know Before Starting:
- Try to have a camera and laptop dedicated for morning announcements only.
- You must have patience with the technology and staff.
- Read all YouTube restrictions and suggestions when posting videos, especially of students.
- Have a back-up plan if internet is down or channel is blocked.
The first technology challenge my principal requested was to figure out how to start streaming our morning announcements. Previously, the morning announcements were done through the PA system and channel one. Some teachers had access to TV, but some didn’t, and picture quality was horrible.
First, I had to figure out the best route for streaming. I worked with my TDCs to get going. We decided to use YouTube Live. YouTube Live is fairly easy to set up. We started with a Hart Rockets Channel http://bit.ly/2Ry6rcI that our teachers and staff could subscribe to and bookmark for each day. We have a camera and laptop solely dedicated to the morning broadcast. I then had to share with staff how to watch announcements: log in through the portal, using their E#, and use the Hart Rocket channel. A couple weeks into our broadcasting, YouTube blocked our account as inappropriate. We think it was blocked due to how I titled the broadcast by date each day, for example 9/1/19 instead of Monday. Just FYI, if YouTube flags your account, you can’t broadcast from that channel for three months!
I then worked with our TDC, Marc Thrall, to try OBS (Open Broadcaster System), free software for video recording and live streaming https://obsproject.com/. OBS allowed us to add graphics to announcements, and next year we will add a green screen. The graphics are cool because now we can show a photo for the pledges, lunch, etc. Before, we would turn the camera to the flags hanging in the room to do the pledges. We are more “professional” now. I will say OBS isn’t intuitive at first, and does have a bit of a learning curve and setup. But now, even some of our teachers are also using OBS in the classrooms to have students create videos.
For the most part, live streaming works every day. Some teachers still struggle with the streaming because there is a lag in audio between classrooms. Some teachers don’t love streaming, because if they have a substitute, the sub can’t access announcements. On the flip side of that, if faculty is off campus, they can still watch the morning announcements. In fact, our Parent Support Specialist relocated to another campus and still watches our announcements!
As with all technology, it’s not perfect every day, but overall our campus has enjoyed the change.