Why do a video live stream?
A live video stream is a great tool for bringing your course to life, and to create a sense of occasion. It can be a rich but self-contained way for learners to communicate with you in real time, and an opportunity to make best use of the short amount of time you might be able to get with a special guest who isn’t normally available throughout the course.
For the learners who can take part (either on camera or by sending messages), it’s a chance to ‘meet’ the educators and other learners, who may be in very different locations and cultures around the world. Even for those who can’t join in at the time, it can be a rewarding experience and strengthen the sense of community.
A live video event might also have an appeal beyond the learners on your course. If you have influential guests or topical subject matter to discuss, it could be an effective means of promoting your course and showcasing your educator’s expertise more widely.
What should I use?
There's a number of tools you can use for live video streaming.
We recommend live streaming on YouTube because of YouTube's wide availability.
Users watch the video on YouTube, and can post in the chat alongside the video. Once the live stream ends, the video is then automatically archived on YouTube for watching later.
Here are some key things to consider:
- You should host using your best computer, with a reliable internet connection (wired instead of wifi if possible).
- Use the best quality webcam and microphone possible. You can stream with a laptop and its webcam, but better equipment results in a better live stream quality.
- Choose a good recording location. One with low background noise, and one that will look good on-screen (ie avoid using a busy, messy office space!).
- Front-light your hosts (and contributors, if possible). You can do this by choosing a location with lots of natural light.
- Keep track of the conversation. Your team should include someone keeping track of the questions and comments in the live chat.
- You and your contributors will all need relevant accounts (ie YouTube).
- Do a test run with your contributors before the main event. This will help you to be ready for if things go wrong.
- Set up a back-channel for communication with others who can quickly relay what they can see and hear from a public point of view. Even if you can't hear or see your own video or your contributors, your viewers might be able to!
See YouTube Live's FAQs for more tips.
Submitting questions and comments
You should give your learners the opportunity to submit questions in advance (in case they can't participate in real time), and a way to submit them if they don't wish to use a YouTube account (for example). They should be able to leave questions on a step in your course, and you could also provide a hashtag for them to submit questions on Twitter. Learners will be able to submit text comments next to your stream if live chat is enabled.
To give your learners (and potential learners) the best opportunity to participate, you should publicise your event well in advance. It's a good idea to create a step in your course that contains all the necessary information.
Here's some suggested copy for the step in your course:
[Intro explaining the topic of discussion, who the hosts and guests will be, etc]
The video conference will be streamed live on (YouTube)[link to YouTube URL]. The discussion will take place on [date] from [time] until [time] [timezone]. [You may choose to include a link to a world clock here.]
You will be able to send questions and comments during the event by submitting them in the chat window, or by using the course hashtag #FLcoursehashtag on Twitter, which we will monitor.
What happens if I can't watch the live video stream?
Don't worry! Watching the video stream live is entirely optional, but it will be fun and we think you'd get a lot out of it.
A recording of the discussion will be available at the link above after the live event finishes. You can still leave a comment or question on this step in advance, and we may include some of these in the discussion.
Will loading the video stream mean I appear on camera?
No, you will just watch the live stream like any other video.
Is a (YouTube) account required to view the video stream?
No, you can watch the video without logging in (to YouTube). If you wish to submit comments, please use the methods above.
Course emails and other channels
Weekly emails are sent relative to when a learner starts a course. So your weekly emails should not contain anything time-specific that refers to the live video stream happening on a future date.
Instead, you should schedule one-off additional emails if you wish to remind learners that your event is coming up.
Remember to include a link to your video stream step in your additional emails before the live stream, but please do also reassure your learners that, if they can't take part, it won't count against them on the course. Don't link directly to the (YouTube) event page in case you need to change this before the event goes live.
If your video stream could have an audience beyond the learners on your course, think about where else it could be publicised. Reminding us at FutureLearn is the best first step so we can help to promote it. But who else might be interested? If you've created a public place for people to read about it (such as an open step), have that address ready to share.
Give context to your video stream
When your video stream goes live, unless it is 'unlisted', it will not only be seen by learners on the course. It could also be picked up by other (YouTube) users! Therefore, you should give it a meaningful title and description, and ideally link back to the course page on FutureLearn.
Remember that most people don't know what a 'MOOC' is, so if you're planning to use this acronym, please don't do so without an explanation (such as 'open online course').
Once the video is complete:
- Make sure that the link to the video works correctly on your in-course step/email(s).
- Update any copy to make it clear that the event is now over.