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An educator's guide to live streams in virtual classrooms

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Want to learn how to successfully live stream in virtual classrooms? Live streams in virtual classrooms provide students and teachers with flexibility, but also the chance to keep normal school life routines like meetings, clubs, and assemblies. 55% of parents believe online learning is more conducive to their child’s learning style. So, if you’re faced with blizzards, hurricanes, or social distancing requirements, educators need to know how to transfer physical lessons into virtual classrooms and digital learning experiences. Read on to explore how educators can use live streams for virtual classrooms. 

An educator's guide to live streams in virtual classrooms CC thumbnail

Everything you need to know about live streams

1. What are live streams?

Live streaming is when a video is sent over the internet, allowing viewers to watch and participate in real-time. Unlike traditional videos, live streams are not prerecorded, but they can be saved, uploaded for students and teachers to refer back to, and repurposed. Live streaming has become a popular choice amongst educators, and 40% of parents feel live streaming would make the learning process easier. 

2. What can educators live stream?

Live streaming allows students and teachers to attend an event that they may not be physically present for. Teachers and lecturers can live stream absolutely any educational content they desire. Whether it’s a live stream of a lecture theater, debate, sporting event, assembly, science experiment, a how-to tutorial, or question and answer, the options are endless. Just be sure to announce that the live stream will be happening in case any special permissions must be required. 

3. Is live streaming free for educators?

If you are live streaming on social media platforms like YouTube Live, Facebook Live, or Instagram Live, they are completely free to use and watch. If you choose to live stream through a streaming website, you may be charged a subscription fee. The video conferencing equipment you choose to live stream with should be your only expense. 

Live streaming free for educators

How to start live streaming virtual classrooms

Just like working towards your career goals, learning how to live stream is a viral step towards successful digital learning. Follow our tips below for the best live streaming support. 

1. Live streaming equipment

Live streaming can be a replacement for a physical event like a lesson or assembly, so you’ll need to make sure your live stream quality is professional and clear. 

Camera

If you’re on a budget, a smartphone, webcam, or electronic device with a camera and microphone will do the trick to record virtual classrooms. But if you’re wanting a more professional approach, investing in a high-quality camera will be best, especially for school events. You will also need a capture card to live stream with external cameras. 

Microphone

Having clear audio is one of the most essential elements of a live stream. Real-time viewers won’t be able to read subtitles until the live stream has been saved and uploaded, so make sure your microphone is switched on and clear. Investing in a desk microphone or a lavalier mic (for echoey environments) is perfect for achieving good sound quality. Great audio can make up for the shortcomings of low-resolution video, and when the onscreen content is all digital, like a slideshow presentation. 

Tripod

A stable video is a good video. Invest in a smartphone or camera tripod to achieve consistent and still live streams. Tripods are also useful for showing viewers different angles and enable hands-free mode. 

Video encoders

A video encoder creates compressed versions of your video to stream, ensuring weak internet connections won't suffer from the dreaded buffering. Video encoders can be software or hardware-based, with many free software options available, like OBS Studio. They’re essential for sharing high quality videos.

Lighting

Lighting plays a key role in a successful live stream. Students will need to be able to always see the subject, clearly and effortlessly. Natural lighting can sometimes be tricky to control, so make sure you’re live streaming in a light, quiet environment with a mixture of natural and artificial light. Be careful not to make your live stream too bright, otherwise, students will not be able to focus.

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2. Set the scene of your virtual classroom

Sometimes teachers can’t always make it into their physical classroom or office, so creating a quiet and clean live streaming environment at home is the next best thing. Take a moment to set the scene of your virtual classroom. Find a minimalistic, quiet room in your home and remove any distractions from the camera frame. Make sure your chosen location has a strong internet connection and test your internet speed before you start the live stream. Students will become less engaged and exit the virtual classroom if the live stream lags or glitches. 

2. Set the scene of your virtual classroom

3. Plan your live stream ahead of time

Just like in-person classes, educators should be planning their live stream virtual classrooms as well. Live streams can bring different opportunities to refresh teaching and learning styles, so be sure to explore many different options. 

Let’s take traditional classroom whiteboards or smartboards for example. They’re difficult to show on camera due to their color and reflection. Instead, consider using a whiteboard online, paper, or animations. For events, or meetings, a multi-camera setup, slideshows narrated with voiceovers, or screen sharing apps may also be helpful. 

When planning your live stream, be prepared for students and viewers to raise questions during the session. Remember to check for raised hands and live messages to avoid unanswered questions. Simple task management can improve your live stream success.

3. Plan your live stream ahead of time

Source: Kids online learning statistics 2021

4. Choose the right live streaming platform

When it comes to choosing the right platform for your live stream virtual classroom, there are many different options available, both free and paid subscriptions. Firstly, consider who your target audience is, how old your students are, and what platform best suits their needs. Teaching a group of young students programming over the radio isn’t going to work well. 

Consider all the platforms, what they have to offer, their security options, and which one best suit your school's budget. Some streaming platforms also include analytics in their packages so users can see how to improve their engagement. Make sure you select a platform that enables you to save your live stream. If not, then using a screen and webcam recorder might come in handy.

4. Choose the right live streaming platform

Source: Schoology Exchange

Ready to live stream like a pro?

Once you’ve gathered your equipment, chosen the perfect streaming platform, checked your internet connection, and planned your live stream lesson, you’re ready to live stream like a pro

If you need, you can edit your video recording to share with students too. Learn how to split educational videos with a free online video editor.

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Written by Jessica Day on November 9, 2021
About the Author

Jessica Day is the Senior Director for Marketing Strategy at Dialpad, a modern business communications and video conferencing platform that takes every kind of conversation to the next level—turning conversations into opportunities. Jessica is an expert in collaborating with multifunctional teams to execute and optimize marketing efforts, for both company and client campaigns. Connect with her LinkedIn.

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