I once wrote a waffle saying I had a confession to share to all my readers. I’m not sure what people thought the content was going to refer to but either the tagline or the actual title – “Personal Waffle – confession time!” meant that I got the highest number of ‘clicks’ ever! In case you were expecting something ‘juicy’ I am afraid I probably disappointed everyone by announcing that I was, in my weekend life, a gamer and streamer on Twitch.
In the beginning
Live Streaming, whether this is via the popular Twitch site or Youtube, has been around with us for nearly 20 years with people from gamers to practitioners taking advantage of the technology which allows us to broadcast live content across the internet. Although initially the use of recorded videos had been popular the opportunity to engage live with the presenter has always been enticing for me, not as a viewer, but as a practitioner and presenter. It didn’t take me long to try and use my streaming experience to impact positively with my learning and teaching and so I started a long journey into live streaming as both by hobby and an essential part of my practice.
Initially I started to do my live streams on a Sunday afternoon creating the Wilson Waffling Live Show! These were initially broadcast on Justin TV with the first ever show featuring me telling elephant jokes for viewers! Yes, I was desperate back then! If you read any research on creating and developing an online ‘show’ it always talks about knowing your audience and what they want. I am thinking they didn’t want elephant jokes :). Although the content and style of the show developed over almost 100 performances (well 87 to be exact), it was never that popular. But it definitely gave me the opportunity explore and, in some cases, purchasing new hardware and software. Eventually the Wilson Waffling Live Show, ground to a halt and, despite not actually reaching the magical 100th show, it had a good run!
And then there was more…
But just because my live show took a nose dive, I didn’t stop live streaming. Rather than creating my own show and trying to be the next YouTube Presenter I changed tact and came from the learning point of view and decided to look at how I could support the learners on my modules through the medium of live streaming. While still persevering with Wilson Waffling Live I polled the viewers/learners about the actual content of my shows and many talked about providing support for their academic work. Sat in my office, away from my special streaming equipment at home, I started to embark on online assignment support sessions. Initially this was using Big Blue Button on the Moodle platform before leaving this due to its lack of recording facilities to broadcasting straight to my Facebook Page, using Facebook Live. This was received positively by the learners and soon became a regular feature of the module. This year, as I start a new module – “Digital Learning – the future of Education?” – I have timetabled a range of virtual sessions, many of which I am sure will involve me live streaming to the learners.
Engaging with Webinars
But I haven’t just stopped there! This year I have worked alongside our NQT lead, Louise Whitfield, to provide support for the students within their NQT year. I was keen to get back to live streaming and so proposed to actually facilitate some webinars throughout the year. Webinars, by definition means “a seminar conducted over the Internet”, which was probably the wrong word to use, since they were literally live streaming. Many people have contributed to helping these become a reality and we have spent the year trialing new equipment in order to decide on which platform to stream to and from, and which software/hardware we should be using. It has been a long journey, but I am pleased to report that we actually did four live streams throughout the year, the outcomes of which can be seen on our blog and NQT support page. We are working on perfecting both the quality and sound of our streams and ways to engage more with the audience.
I have one of those brains which is always needing a new challenge. We are already planning our live streams to support our NQTs for next year but I am also looking to develop new ideas. I would really like to have an online live stream show, similar to Wilson Waffling Live with audience participation, although the exact form of this is as yet unknown Figuring out what the audience actually wants and/or needs will have to be explored before progressing further. I would also like to do a talk show which engages with individuals in a similar way as the NQT webinars. This would be great, using my home set up and engaging with cultured chat with people – anyone interested? And what is after live streams? Well that is still an unknown – maybe one day you will be able to meet up with me in the virtual world of Wilson Waffling – now wouldn’t that would be fun!