Online education has never been more important than it is today. The ability to learn online gives more flexibility to both educators and students.
While epidemics are not the typical cause for school emergency closures, the need for live streaming classrooms and online education solutions has made itself known in recent weeks since the coronavirus has made its way around the world. Digital distant learning would also be useful during blizzards, hurricanes, and other natural crises.
The internet and live streaming have been key players in the accessibility of online education. With the proper online video education platform and equipment, live streaming classrooms, online lectures, webinars, and other educational content are quite simple.
Even in the absence of a crisis, distant learning is changing lives for many. It truly is opening the doors to the future of education.
Let’s take a closer look at the setup and tools required to make broadcast live streaming classes online.
Table of Contents
- How to Live Stream a Class
- Equipment Needed
- Choose an Online Educational Video Platform
- Securing Your Internet Connection
- Tailor Your Educational Content
- Start Your Live Stream
How to Live Stream a Class
Learning is no longer restricted by physical limitations. With the support of a professional streaming platform, educators like you can easily stream live video on your own website or education platform.
There are a few boxes you need to tick before you get started with your first classroom streaming or online lecture.
Here’s the rundown:
- Collect the proper equipment.
- Choose an online video education platform.
- Check your internet connection.
- Prepare your content.
- Start your live stream class.
As long as you carefully follow each step, you’re bound to create educational materials that make your virtual students feel like they are attending a live lecture.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, we’re going to talk a bit more about each of the five major steps on how to conduct live online classes.
1. Equipment Needed
To get started with live education broadcasting, you need a camera and a microphone. Since an online live streaming classroom is a replacement for real-world learning, the quality should match that of a real classroom. If you broadcast a poor quality stream, students will lose focus even if the content itself is great. For this reason, we recommend that you invest in high-quality equipment if possible. Streaming live video on your website requires live streaming equipment.
Here are a few pieces of equipment to invest in:
- High-quality video camera
- A capture card (if using an external camera)
- High-quality microphone
- Proper lighting equipment (if necessary for filming location)
- An encoder
- A tripod
Unlike many professional live streaming verticals, investing in professional-grade recording equipment is not absolutely necessary in the education realm. If you have 100 teachers recording live classes from their own homes, providing everybody with thousands of dollars of equipment will get both expensive and complicated.
Do note, however, that some online courses don’t even have presenters on screen. Sometimes an online class will only have a slideshow presentation on-screen and live audio commentary. If you don’t plan to present yourself on camera, then you only need good audio equipment.
You can also use the Wirecast Desktop Presenter plug-in. This plug-in facilitates the live audio stream with screen sharing capabilities, perfect for lecturing with a visual presentation.
Why You Need a School Streaming Encoder
A high-quality camera and audio capturing equipment are pretty self-explanatory. But if you are new to live streaming, you may not know what a school streaming encoder is.
A video encoder is either a device or hardware that creates compressed versions of your video as it is recorded. The purpose of having a compressed version is so that it can be streamed without buffering or getting grainy, especially if a viewer doesn’t have a strong internet connection.
Whether you use encoding software or a hardware encoder depends on your budget and computer speed. Hardware encoders are much more expensive. They are independent of your computer and run on their own processor.
There are several school streaming encoders we recommend, including the free and open-source OBS Studio software encoder. There are other RTMP options that work with Dacast, including VMix and Vidblaster, but they are limited to Windows operating systems only. If you want a more professional software encoder, one of the best available is Telestream’s Wirecast. You can download a free trial before purchasing.
For more information on setting up live encoders, check out the Dacast Encoder Configuration page.
2. Choose an Online Video Education Platform
With that equipment in place, the most important part of live education broadcasting is selecting the right streaming provider. You want to choose a reliable streaming solution with a content delivery network (CDN).
CDN guarantees that your content is distributed all over the globe without clogging your own servers. Dacast partners with the Akamai CDN, one of the best and largest CDNs in the industry. Akamai also works with popular and successful companies like Apple and Facebook.
You want to pick a streaming platform that is affordable and easy to use. If you’re new to live streaming, choose a provider that doesn’t require any technical knowledge or to use their system.
Streaming platforms like Dacast help you do live education broadcasting with just a few clicks. With our highly affordable platform, you can easily stream live video on your website while maintaining control of and rights to your content.
A powerful streaming solution also provides a monitoring and analytics feature. You want to have access to viewer numbers, behaviors, and engagement. When you’re teaching an online class, it’s helpful to know if your students stayed on the stream the whole time or if they left before the end.
In addition, you want to know if your lesson or material is engaging enough for your students. You can use this information to tailor your future lesson plans according to your students’ needs and preferences.
It is a good idea to think beyond the live stream. Determine whether you plan to make the videos available for playback after they have finished. If this is a capability that you’re looking for, make sure your online video platform has video-on-demand (VOD) capabilities.
Another thing you should take into consideration is the privacy and security capabilities of your OVP. Some broadcasters choose to make their live streams public, others choose to give access to specific students only. The decision ultimately comes down to whether public or private live stream classroom makes sense for you.
3. Secure Your Internet Connection
A stable internet connection is vital for any live stream. Live education broadcasting is no exception. You want to ensure that all of your content reaches your audience without any glitches or latency issues.
Blank screens or sudden interruptions to the stream can be a source of great distraction for both students and educators.
In order to stream at a high quality, your internet connection needs to reach certain speeds. We recommend that you reach at least 750Kbps to 2Mbps. We also advise that your internet connection be twice as fast as the speed at which you want to stream.
For example, if you want to stream at 1Mbps, your upload speed should at least be 2Mbps.
You can test your internet speed at SpeedTest.net for free.
4. Tailor Your Educational Content
Educators work hard on their lesson plans. They use their years of training and experience to create engaging materials and lectures that resonate with their students. However, switching from traditional lessons at school to live-stream classes takes a little extra work.
Think about the way you present information. If you used whiteboards or smartboards, you’re going to have to figure out how to get that all in the camera’s view without distorting it. Perhaps, you could do screen recorded lectures with voice-overs, or maybe you just need to adjust your whiteboard so that the camera captures it.
Only small tweaks are required, but these are things that should be tested and prepared before you go live.
In addition to preparing the content, it is important to remain confident. The uncharted territory might be intimidating, but you need to present confidently because your students will feed off of your attitude.
Even if creating video lessons is not the norm for you and your team of teachers, online learning can certainly be effective. This is definitely something to keep in mind, especially if you’re feeling skeptical about the transition.
For example, video in an educational context can facilitate learning and improve collaboration. It can also increase student engagement and the teacher’s effectiveness.
According to the American Public Broadcasting Service’s (PBS) annual teacher survey on media and technology, the majority of teachers believe that video is an effective great learning tool:
- 68% believe that video stimulates discussions
- 66% believe that video increases student motivation
- 41% believe that video increases student achievement
Among other use cases, we can observe this trend in the increasing popularity of massive online open courses (MOOCs). Companies like edX and Coursera, for example, have offered free online classes from top educational institutions like Stanford, Harvard, and MIT. The preference towards this style of learning should be taken as reassurance that young students do, in fact, enjoy learning online, and no students learn better than those who are eager for class.
5. Start the Live Classroom Stream
Once you have collected and set up your gear, set up your online video education platform, checked your internet connection, and prepared your lesson, it is time to start your live stream.
Here are some tips for how to conduct live online classes:
- Speak slowly and clearly
- Consider simultaneously running a discussion board so students can ask questions and participate
- Pause to check interactions
- Use the restroom before you get started
- Have water nearby
- Make sure your devices are charged
- Wear a plain shirt (no stripes, plaids, or anything distracting)
Consider blocking off some time at an earlier moment to run through your lesson. It is a good idea to record the video so that you have the ability to go through and make any changes or additions when you live stream to your students.
While you are preparing for your first live stream, it is smart to check the lighting at the filming location about 24 hours before you plan to go live. Let’s say you’re live streaming at noon on Tuesday. Set up your camera on Monday between 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM to make sure the lighting is adequate.
Once you’ve ticked all these little boxes off your list, the most important thing is to relax and have a little fun. Your goal is to educate, but letting your personality shine through will help students better connect with you.
Following these five simple steps will equip you for creating the best live streaming classroom possible. Your students will pick up on your preparedness and take your live streaming classes much more seriously than if you simply conferenced everybody in on a platform like Zoom.
No matter if it is because of school closures or personal preference, distance learning is such a great alternative for students outside of the classroom.
You can livestream with Dacast’s online video education platform free for 30 days – No credit card required. No strings attached.