Online learning has made education more accessible to students around the world. Students who live in rural Georgia can attend classes in Los Angeles. Students with day jobs can log in to complete their school work in the evenings.
The value of online learning has come to light in some tough situations, such as the COVID-19 outbreak and other natural disasters that force campuses to close down.
Live streaming, in particular, is a very useful technology for distant learning. Video allows for real-time interaction and a “classroom-like” feel. Recording lectures also gives professors the ability to save and upload the videos for students to playback if they missed the session or need to go back and rewatch part of the lesson.
In order to bring an online live class platform to life, educational establishments need to invest in the proper live streaming video solutions.
There are a few powerful online video services that are helpful for creating an online video platform for education. Let’s check them out.
Why Digital Learning is in Strong Demand
Technology has found its place in the American classroom over the past five to ten years. The old school projectors and bulky televisions have been replaced by interactive smart boards.
Even in traditional classroom settings, homework involves the use of online tools. Many schools require children to have iPads or other tablets at as young as elementary school. High schools and universities are even further advanced.
When the spread of the Covid-19 Coronavirus started shutting down schools mid-March 2020, teachers were forced to curriculum from semi-digital to fully online in a matter of days. Even weeks later, educators of all grades are still scrambling to get everything together.
Many are resorting to Zoom, a video chat platform that was not intended for educating dozens of children, teens and young adults at a time.
The best solution for grade schools and universities is creating live teaching platforms on their websites with the help of professional video hosting platforms with both live streaming and VOD capabilities. This allows them to live stream classes and upload lessons for students to access on demand.
Key Features of Live Streaming Platforms for Education
Though varied in specific features and cost, these platforms typically provide a similar range of tools for video broadcasting. Professional video platforms give you more control over your content than popular platforms, like Youtube.
When it comes to hosting and broadcasting videos, educators have a number of specific needs that differ from other industries.
Though varied in features and cost, these platforms typically provide a range of tools for video configuration.
For example, this customization often includes:
- Renaming and organizing videos into playlists
- Changing privacy settings
- Making certain content available on a website or social media page via embedding
Here are a few features that are helpful for creating a platform for live streaming lectures and other educational materials. Look out for these features when choosing a live streaming platform.
1. Security and Privacy Settings:
Educational videos are typically restricted to authorized viewers. You want security and privacy tools that integrate into your chosen live streaming video platform. This allows you to control access to content on your own terms.
2. White-label service:
Free platforms, such as Youtube, keep their own branding on the video and landing page that houses it. This is not a very professional look.
White-label refers to video content that doesn’t include branding except for your own. Most paid video hosting platforms allow you to stream without a single mention of their name to your viewers.
Many parents put parental controls on their students’ electronic devices or home wifi which tend to block Youtube and other free streaming platforms. When you use a white-lable video hosting platform on your site, this will not be an issue.
3. API Access:
An API is an Application Programming Interface. This tool allows broadcasters to create custom programmatic interactions and integrations. This gives you capabilities that range from building custom web and mobile applications to creating online portals.
It can also help you integrate video tools into existing web applications, such as Learning Management Systems.
4. Video Monetization:
Depending on whether you are making decisions on behalf of an accredited university or an alternative educational service, you may consider monetizing your online live class platform.
If you operate an educational platform that is not publicly funded or tuition-based, you may consider monetizing your educational video content.
Many online educators create packages of video content sold as-is. With monetized content, viewers simply enter their payment information directly in the video player window. After their payment processes securely, viewers can access the video.
Monetization tools are key for quickly and easily generating revenue from your educational videos. This is used more by independent educators.
If you operate an accredited institution, monetization should not matter much to you, since you are either funded by taxpayers or tuition.
The Best Platforms to Live Stream Classes
There are many platforms that are suitable for hosting and streaming your online lectures. You should choose a platform based on its ability to meet the specific needs of your institution.
Here are a few of the online video hosting platforms that are best suited for broadcasting educational content for remote learning.
Both a live streaming and video hosting solution, Dacast’s online video platform for education is equally suited for small educators and major institutions.
Key features include:
- Password protection
- IP address and geographic restrictions
- Tokenized access control and more
- Video monetization via pay-per-view
- Subscriptions and/or advertising.
Monetization features are supported on all Premium plans and above. These plans also include access to a RESTful API. It is also important to note that every plan on Dacast is fully white-label.
Thanks to the recent acquisition of video platform vzaar, Dacast is now offering a new advanced video hosting platform.
Dacast also supports more powerful uploading, optimized CMS, more security and China video hosting. The platform is ideal for institutions with a large video-on-demand library. This is perfect if you have large numbers of instructors creating content for different subjects and courses.
Pricing for Dacast streaming solutions starts at $19/month for a Starter Plan and $125/month for a Premium plan. Both include several high-end features at competitive rates. Other plans are available for higher volume streaming.
Dacast also offers bulk pricing for one-time events and pay-as-you-go pricing at competitive rates.
2. IBM Cloud Video
IBM Cloud Video uses the technology behind the service formerly known as UStream. Although this platform supports powerful features, the most inclusive packages run at nearly $1000 a month. This option is great for educational institutions with larger budgets.
Security features include password protection, embed restrictions and private URLs. Video monetization functionality is not included.
Full white-label branding control starts with the $999/month Platinum plan, and the IBM Cloud VideoAPI is included on custom Media and Enterprise plans.
IBM Cloud Video pricing starts at $99 per month for a Silver Plan, $499 per month for the Gold Plan and $999 per month for the Platinum Plan. Users can negotiate custom plans individually.
Kaltura is a powerful, large video management platform aimed at large institutions. Some institutions install and host Kaltura on their own servers, while others opt for cloud-based video services.
Kaltura’s security features include DRM, encryption and access control tools. They also offer a wide variety of monetization tools.. The service is also fully white-label, and an API is available for programmatic interactions.
Kaltura pricing is not available on their website. Users negotiate contracts on a case-by-case basis. In general, these range from $500 to $1000 and up per month.
4. Vimeo Live
Vimeo acquired Livestream in 2017, and the service now provides a live streaming platform through Vimeo Live. This platform includes powerful features, but many are only available with the most inclusive plans.
This service offers some interesting hardware integrations. Security features, including advanced privacy controls and password protection, are supported only on the Enterprise plan and above.
The same goes for white-label branding and monetization options. The Vimeo LiveAPI is available on this plan, and custom plans priced at even higher levels.
Vimeo Live plans now start at $75/month for the Premium platform. They no longer offer a basic plan at a lower rate.
To get access to important features like monetization, security, white-label and branding control, the Enterprise plan is available starting at $999 per month. Custom plans are also available at higher rates on a case-by-case basis.
The next of the live streaming video platforms we’ll take a look at here is Muvi. Muvi is a video streaming platform with a wide range of features.
This platform supports video monetization via all three major methods: subscriptions, pay-per-view and ads. Standard Plans and above include access to this API. All the plans are white-label.
As for pricing, Muvi plans start at $199 per month for the Starter plan. The Standard Plan is $399 per month and the Professional plan is $1499 per month. Additional fees may apply for additional apps and other features.
A leading platform for education, Panopto is a video platform that was designed to serve universities and other large institutions. This video platform includes dedicated software for lecture capture and video search.
However, the Panopto platform doesn’t include video monetization. Security features include the ability to make content private. Additionally, users can integrate with existing authentication systems. All plans are white-label, and an API is available.
Panopto does not publicize pricing plans on its website. For educators, pricing depends on full-time equivalent student pricing. Plans are available starting at 500 users.
The Future of Education
While the current crisis is putting educators in a bit of a pinch, more schools may see the value of offering entirely online programs.
Live streaming classes as opposed to simply uploading notes helps students to truly digest the materials, especially if they are used to watching their teachers lecture live.
Even if online education is not the prefered option for all students, it is absolutely necessary to keep students on track when schools are closed down.
Consider implementing live streams, lectures available for playback and other digital education tools to help your students through this time.
With all of the uncertainty in the world, let education remain a constant. We owe it to the students.
Thanks for reading, and good luck choosing the right live streaming service for your online classes!