Monday, June 1, 2009

The Streaming Dilemma-a good problem to have

With the explosion of online media, many schools and institutions have started to stream events from their venues using web apps like uStream and fliqz.

This is certainly a convenient format for parents and friends that are unable to come to the event but it is also a wonderful opportunity to share your institution's story.

This past academic year, St. Christopher's School streamed the homecoming football game, the Virginia State Indoor Track and Field Championships, a Basketball and Lacrosse game with our rival school, and Lower and Middle School graduation(Upper School will occur in 2010).

The new online presence was received very well but then the questions and requests started to pour in.

Here are a few of the questions:
-Can we stream all athletic events?
-How about the arts?
-Can we stream chapel talks?
-Will athletic events be limited to varsity sports?
-Which varsity sports will be streamed?

Those are only a few questions but it did prompt us to consider developing some sort of protocol or at least a consistent response to streaming requests.

Ultimately however, it comes down to few basic issues.

Manpower: Does your school have the manpower to stream some/all of the requests? Will your school use student help? Who will supervise students?
Access: Is internet access readily available at the location of the event? This is particularly problematic for away games, off campus events, or even outdoor events if your institutions wireless access is spotty.
Equipment: We have yet to stream more than one event at a time, but I can already anticipate the requests. Whose camera will be used? How about spare laptops? Spare cables? High capacity batteries? Can I stream with cellular broadband card? How much does a cellular broadband card cost?

Streaming media can and will enhance your school's online presence but be ready for the requests. I would encourage you to be proactive and develop a protocol or consider how you will respond to certain questions.

But ultimately, it is a good problem to have.


Wm Chamberlain said...

As one who streams a lot, I find myself thinking hard about this post. Although I don't find myself in the same position, more people from outside my town watch the stream than inside, I can see where some might get upset that their particular "thing" did not get sent over the internet.

I suppose the answer lies in what the students and sponsors are willing to do. I may also suggest you could sell advertising and that might allow you to explain why more football games are streamed than chess tournaments (or vice-versa).

I plan on doing event streaming in my school this year including basketball games and the occasional assembly, but I can guarantee that my first response to anyone that asks why ,insert name of event here, didn't get streamed I will tell them,"I did it just to irritate you!" ;>

Hiram Cuevas said...

Mr. C, thank you for your comment.

I get a lot of perched eyebrows when I mention that you stream your class all of the time. Questions about balance and privacy abound. But with the ease at which video can be streamed and or posted, educators are better off modeling effective and responsible streaming.

As for streaming events, I haven't considered advertising but I will bring it up with our director of communications. I do worry however about equity nonetheless.