Monday, August 31, 2015

Live Streaming in the Classroom with UStream - How to Live Stream

Live Streaming in the Classroom with Ustream

by Sheila Dankers (@sheiladankers)

In a recent graduate course, Seminar in New Communication Technology, I learned that by using applications such as Ustream, anyone can broadcast live and/or watch live streaming broadcasts for free.  The possibilities for using live streaming are limitless.  As an elementary teacher, I began thinking about how I could use live streaming to engage my students and help them understand what they were learning.  For example, NASA has its own livestreaming channels on Ustream, including NASA Education and NASA Public.  

Watching the NASA live stream be a great way to introduce many concepts to students and to learn by watching astronauts do experiments and the amazing NASA robonaut in action on the International Space Station and space shuttle launches.  After learning about live streaming, I started exploring more, for the life science unit I was about to teach and found many wildlife streaming channels.  Since I was teaching my students about food chains, animal adaptations, and life cycles, I decided to show my students the Hanover, Pennsylvania eagle cam.  Both my students and I were so excited to see bald eagles in action.  The eagle pair, who had become famous back in March for sitting on their two eggs even when covered in snow during a blizzard, can be seen these days taking turns bringing fish back to their nest and feeding their eaglets.  Just from watching this, we were able to discuss many of the concepts we were learning with the eagles as a case study—and my students were very engaged.  In fact, they did not want to stop watching, asking questions, and discussing when we had to move on to other learning activities!

In addition to using livestreaming to flatten the classroom’s walls by bringing the world inside, it could be used to broadcast presentations or shows by students and as a way to let parents “attend” special events when they can’t be there in person.

UStream is the largest live streaming provider.  As with all good things, it has its advantages and disadvantages.


Advantages of Livestreaming and Ustream is that they are both free and accessible on any device with internet access.  Like YouTube, UStream offers monetization programs, including subscription, advertising splits, and pay-per-view and gives users control over their videos such as who can view their videos, restrict embedding, and moderating comments before they appear.  It also has a chat tool which you can use when broadcasting to chat with viewers and a poll tools which you can use to create polls for your viewers as well as the ability record and save broadcasts.


Free live streaming service is funded by advertising.   Adverstisement free service is available starting at $99 per month. 

How to Use Ustream

Watch the below videos to see how to sign up with Ustream and set up your channel and for advanced features.  Quick directions for getting started broadcasting with the web broadcaster:

1 - Log in and click Go Live.
2 - Choose the channel you want to broadcast on.
3 - Click allow to give permission for the program to access your webcam and microphone.
4 - Click the Start Broadcast button to begin streaming.
5 - Click the Start Record button to begin recording.
6 - Use the Share menu to share a link to your channel page through Facebook and Twitter to attract viewers.  You can also copy and paste the link and share it through email or other ways.
7 - Review your broadcast by clicking on the link below the share message which will take you to your Ustream channel page.
8 - To access the chat to interact with viewers while broadcasting, click on the menu and choose chat.

UStream Video Tutorial Part 1:  Signing Up

UStream Video Tutorial Part 2:  Setting Up a UStream Show:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LsCmSBjwjWE

UStream Video Tutorial Part 3: Advanced Features:

Monday, August 24, 2015

Vlogs in the K-12 Classroom - How to Use a Vlog as an Educator

Vlogs in the Classroom

by Sheila Dankers (@sheiladankers)
Vlogs, short for video blogs, have become very popular, thanks to YouTube.  While watching funny videos or cute animal videos on YouTube is fun pastime, there are also many important and productive ways vlogs can be used.  Many people watch vlogs to learn how to do something they are interested in.  For example, I have watched vlogs about how to make chocolate souffles, use web tools, and to learn in graduate courses.  My husband has watched videos about how to deep fry turkeys, break down a gun for cleaning, and aviation training. YouTube videos have even played a part of the uprisings in the Middle East. 

In education, vlogs can be used for learning both by watching and creating videos.  It is sometimes difficult to engage students when learning about new concepts.  Interesting videos capture students’ attention and help them understand difficult concepts more easily.  Lon Safko, author of The Social Media Bible, explains one advantage of video that makes them a great educational tool, “The more senses that are involved in gathering information, the more compelling the process becomes.” 

A recent innovation in education which involves the use of vlogs is “flipping the classroom.”   Students watch teacher-created and/or other videos for an introduction to concepts at home, then return to school to discuss and work with the concepts with teacher help.  This frees up time in the classroom for labs, learning activities, and other assignments in which the teacher can guide students and clear up misunderstandings. 


There are many channels on YouTube which provide excellent educational videos made by organizations and individuals—many are by other teachers that can be used for flipping the classroom, in class, or to help students with homework.  You can find them using the search tool on YouTube. As a 5th grade science teacher, here are some of my favorite channels:

Have Fun Teaching
Bill Nye
Sick Science! and SpanglerScienceTV
Khan Academy
Texas Parks and Wildlife

Teachers may also want to search Just Dance Kids for fun, school-appropriate animated dance/music videos for brain breaks and class parties.  You can also find video clips from news stations to use in the classroom on YouTube.  I have even used a Coyote/Roadrunner cartoon to help students understand potential and kinetic/mechanical energy, and not only did it work, but they loved it!

If you decide to make your own videos, you may want to watch this teacher-created video by Jason Rhode about how to make YouTube videos with just a webcam directly on YouTube. You can also use free screencasting apps such as Jing and Screencastomatic, which are available on the internet, to show students how to use technology tools. 

Another ways vlogs can be used in education is for students to create videos to teach others what they are learning about in creative ways, which can be shared on YouTube or a class website.  There are many free, easy-to-use apps students can use such as Voki, Animoto, PowToon, and Babble to use to make amazing videos. Teachers can evaluate student-created videos for how well the students understand the concepts using a rubric which is given to students before they begin the project. 

One of my favorite apps for student created videos is Socket Puppets.  It is available for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.  One advantage of the app is that students can create a sock puppet video in seconds.  The socks automatically animate the voice of students.  Students choose their puppets, backgrounds, and props.  Other advantages are that it is very easy to use, produces super cute sock puppet videos, and is a lot of fun for students or adults.  My 4th and 5th grade students love it, but it can be used by children at a very young age with a little help.  It can be used for individual or small group projects, making a mini-lesson, or for flipping instruction and is easily shared on YouTube or Facebook.  Here are the directions for creating a video using sock puppets:
  • Write a script for with 1-4 puppets about the topic.  Practice the script.
  • Tap on the “new” button on the main menu of the Sock Puppet app.
  • Tap on puppets to select them for your video (up to 4 can be used each time).  Click next.
  • Tap on the background you would like to use for the scene.  Click next.
  • Select props by tapping on them.  Click next.
  • Move the props and sock puppets around by touching and dragging them with your finger to place them before recording.  You can also resize props and characters by pinching and dragging with two fingers.
  • Press the red record button to begin recording.  Each time a character is to speak, tap it, then begin speaking.
  • When finished recording, tap the stop button to begin rendering your show.  It will play a preview of the movie.  If necessary, students can re-record by tapping the record button.
  • Tap on the save icon to save your puppet show. A prompt will appear for you to provide a title.
  • Tap on the share icon for the option to export your movie to YouTube or Facebook.

Disadvantages of the app include: it has a 60 second time limit for the free version, or a 90 second limit for the Sock Puppet+ paid version.  You also have to purchase the + version to save videos to your photo library on your Apple device.  Movies cannot be edited, but have to be re-recorded, which isn’t really too much of a problem since it is fast and easy to do.

One great thing I have learned about using technology tools from the educational technology courses I have taken is that there are usually several video tutorials already published on YouTube and/or the tool’s website.  You can find tutorials for Jing, Animoto, and Sock Puppets on their websites and on YouTube.

Finally, schools can also use vlogs for connecting with parents and students.  A district, school, or teacher could produce a vlog with a weekly or monthly video about how to help their child succeed in school, letting parents and students know what is happening in the school, and/or homework help.  

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Become a Social Media Coach for the Texas Social Media Research Institute (@TSMRI) - Applications Are Due Wednesday, August 26th by noon

This semester will be our BEST semester yet! We are celebrating our 5th year as an organization and are experiencing a wealth of invitations and opportunities to connect with internal and external organizations (non-profits).

As a result, we are in NEED of a few additional social media coaches (interns) at Tarleton State University. Incoming first-year students to graduate students are eligible. This opportunity is amazing, because you will have an opportunity to:

- learn valuable social media skills
- earn certificates after each academic year
- connect with companies and organizations
- gain faculty and staff mentors
- connect with other Tarleton students
- earn service learning hours
- complete an ALE experience for the university
- participate in service learning
- earn course credit
- leadership experience.
and MUCH more!

Interviews will be held on next Thursday, August 27th on the third floor of the humanities building at at Tarleton State University at noon.

Applications are due on Wednesday, August 26th by noon (online submission).

Do you have any questions, connect with us via Twitter - @TSMRI

Monday, August 17, 2015

Smart Phones, Children, and Social Media - How to Protect Children on Their Smart Phone

We were contacted by Tiger Mobiles to see if we were interested in publishing their infographic on "How to Protect Your Children on Their Smartphone". We were definitely interested, but we wanted to share this important infographic for our "Back to School" series in our Social Media and Education Month.

The TSMRI board members who are parents have children who all under the age of three. In fact, we have six TSMRI mini-board members. This is not an issue that we have encountered yet, but we will definitely have to think about smartphones when our children start grade school.

We especially liked the section on "Keeping Your Kids" safe on social media! Enjoy the infographic!

- The TSMRI Board Members

Monday, August 10, 2015

Steps to Using YouTube Videos in K-12 and Higher Education Classrooms

Using YouTube Videos in the Classroom

I chose videos because it combines both audio and visual techniques to engage learners. Videos allow learners to retain the content more easily, make deeper connections, and increase students’ enthusiasm for learning. Due to the widespread sharing capabilities of most devices, students are now more exposed than ever to video. With video recording technology becoming easier to use, implementing it into the classroom is simple and it can lead to some excellent learning opportunities.

Flipping the classroom is a great way to encourage active learning. Using video encourages students to use their time collaborating with their classmates instead of listening to their teacher drone on about a boring lesson. It engages students in the learning process while allowing the teacher to facilitate their learning. Struggling students have the opportunity to re-watch the videos to help them understand difficult concepts. Also, it saves the teacher from having to constantly repeat themselves.

As a teacher, I can curate/create videos for my students to watch. Using videos allows me to act more as a guide on the side, helping students make interpretations about what they watched instead of telling the students what to think.  For example, I made a video discussing how to compose a thesis statement for my writing class. As students had questions about writing thesis statements throughout the year, I directed them to the video to clarify any misconceptions. Using a video allows students to watch the key concepts over and over until they are mastered. It is a great tool to use for maximizing instruction.

6 Steps for Using Video in the Classroom

  1. Ensure the video aligns with the learning objectives.
  2. Create pre-video, during video, and post-video activities to promote active learning among students.
  3. Review expectations for watching videos with students - these expectations should mirror your expectations for other activities.
  4. Explain desired learning objectives with students prior to watching the video - What do you want the students to learn after they watch the video?
  5. Actively monitor students while the video is playing - Many students mistake video time as free time. Walking around the room while the video is playing will increase the class’ attentiveness.
  6. Complete a post-viewing activity - Lead a class discussion that relates the content in the video to the learning goals of the class.
Pros and Cons of Using Videos in the Classroom

  • Enhances student comprehension and discussion - Students usually retain more information when presented in a video, leading to more engaging classroom discussion.
  • Accommodates for diverse learning styles - Because it uses audio and video, it reaches the students’ different learning styles.
  • Increases student motivation and enthusiasm - Students are excited to watch videos and learn from a different perspective.
  • Students associate videos with free time and don’t take the content as seriously as they should - Establishing clear expectations for watching videos will help students take it seriously.
  • Some videos don’t match the learning objectives - With video production tools becoming easier to use, many teachers now create their own custom videos to align with the learning objectives.
  • Effective video use requires preparation from the teacher - While videos can make the day seem easier, effective teaching requires quite a bit of forethought to ensure the video meets the learning objectives.

- Post Written by Kyle Esco (@kyleesco)
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