Broadcasting your web conference to larger audiences
Back in this summer, we were faced with planning our regular Mahara day without the usual meet-ups we all enjoy. But the determination was there (spurred on by several well known members of the community) to make it happen anyway. And so began the planning for an online Mahara UK/IE conference day.
The original plan was to host the conference through BigBlueButton, but with numbers of participants growing rapidly, we decided that we would need a back-up plan. A way to broadcast the presentations should we reach capacity for BBB - We didn't, BBB coped fine with the 90+ users we had on the day, but the provision was put in place anyway and several people did make use of it.
The principle often holds for teaching sessions outside conferences like ours. Often the requirement is for synchronous interactions that a web conference tool like BBB/Zoom/Teams provides. Sometimes the requirement is more 'broadcast' focused, maybe with a side channel for text chat and questions, but without the need for mutual web cameras, microphones and high bandwidth interactions. And sometimes you want features that not all web conference tools provide - multiple picture in picture, multiple sound sources, easy switching between sources - and you want or need to do it live rather than post-edited.
Our solution in the summer was to continue using BigBlueButton as our primary conference tool, but we also streamed the sessions onto YouTube using an app called OBS Studio. This allowed the capture of a BBB screen from a browser, the inputs from audio and both live streaming and recording of the resultant video.
One hint learned during that conference - if you are broadcasting to larger numbers, don't expect the presenter/lecturer to monitor those side channel chats, whether directly in BBB or in a streamed channel like YouTube. Presenting is a full focus task, and so is monitoring those side channel discussions, whether they need to be responded to in those chats, or raised with the presenter.
OBS and YouTube as a broadcasting combination, on the other hand was reasonably start/stop and ignore in the middle, once it had been set up in advance. More complicated broadcasts, switching between sources etc, would obviously require someone's attention on that too - again, not the presenter/lecturer!
Doing online teaching well is no less resource intensive than teaching in person - and can be more so to do it well, so try to make sure you have the support you need to do what you want to do, and make the experience a positive one, both for you as the lecturer and for your students.
A small gift for your remote learning and teaching for December the 16th, brought to you by Richard Oelmann from Catalyst IT Europe.