“The funny thing about live streaming in schools is: if you don’t have it, you don’t know how great it is. If you do, you can’t live without it. As schools compete in the public space to become relevant, live streaming is one of the best ways to get your school’s name out there. It gives you an opportunity to show what your community can do. I’m committed to making sure my high school gets put on the map.” - Tom White, Instructor of Digital Media at Morgan County High School.
In the past few years, live streaming has proven to be a great alternative to traditional TV broadcasts. We’re seeing media networks, big brands, and even NASA use live streaming to reach audiences all around the world. On a smaller scale, live events, churches, schools and many other groups are all joining the streaming game to get their content in front of viewers. It’s affordable and easy to the point that almost anyone can do it. All you need is the right gear.
Many schools in the U.S. now have the tools and personnel (broadcast students & volunteers) to live stream, and we’re seeing more streams of sports games, band recitals, graduations and other events than ever before. But many schools are still hesitant to incorporate live streaming into their routines. Whether it’s budgeting, lack of broadcast programs or even the idea that no one will tune in, there are legitimate reasons for schools to not provide live coverage of events.
But that doesn’t mean it’s too late to start. In fact, now that live video achieves much higher quality with more reliability, it’s a great time to propose a live streaming program to your school. Tom White, instructor of Digital Media at Morgan County High School in Georgia, just moved in from another county and immediately began to implement streaming into dozens of activities. He shares his story on why he streams for his high school:
Why We Stream
“The video production here only started last year in August when I began working at Morgan County High School. Prior to being here, I was taught at a career academy serving 3 high schools, and we streamed every single football, basketball, baseball, and soccer game in that region for a couple of years. One year we did over 1,000 streams. Now I lead this school’s new Digital Media class. It’s a class that has 2 sides, both of which are taught by me: the TV Production side and the Animation side.”
“Live streaming allows our students, our school and our county to go outside of the building. It takes Morgan County High School to the world stage and gives our students the recognition that they deserve. It means that parents and families who can’t attend can now tune in and see these kids succeed. Our boys basketball team just won the state title last month, and we were there streaming literally as they won and giving a behind-the-scenes look at the locker room excitement after the game. We want to be recognized by schools all around the world, and this is one of the best ways to do it.”
Challenges 1: Personnel
“When I was at my previous county, we actually had classes dedicated to sports production. It was through that program that I developed a relationship with a lot of students from the University of Georgia where we get a lot of our broadcast volunteers now for the high school’s live streams. Their students have helped tremendously with getting us cool graphics, talent and camera operators for our sports events. But we’re not limited to streaming sports - we do choir recitals, band concerts, parades; we take any opportunity to get our kids broadcasting in the field.”
“Live streaming from these events is completely volunteer-based though, so one of the challenges is making sure you have enough people. Sometimes I end up being a 1-man show handling both the cameras and the play-by-play. The number of personnel you’ll have with you is always going to be different, so being flexible with scheduling and roles is a must.”
Challenge #2: Internet
“The other challenge is getting a solid internet connection. If the games are at our school, it’s not a problem because I know exactly what our setup looks like. But when we go on the road, it’s a whole different scenario. I don’t know what kind of internet the host school has, their IT people, or their security situation. They might have firewalls that I can’t bypass, or be in a remote area with zero connectivity.”
“The boys basketball championship game was held at the Macon Coliseum in Macon, Georgia, which is the worst venue in the world for getting cell signal. You typically have enough signal to open social media or attempt to send a text but never enough to complete the deal. The funny thing about that game was that we were playing against a rival school in our region, and I’m great friends with their video teacher. While we were in the Coliseum, we weren’t able to connect via text at all. We were literally just on opposite sides of the court.”
VidiU Go at the Championship Game
“But despite the bad connectivity in there, we went live 4 times and garnered over 5,000 impressions/views. The secret was using our live streaming device: the VidiU Go. For this game, I had it connected to our camera and roaming around to cover the game off the court (NFHS.org had exclusives to the game coverage). This was Georgia’s state championship final and the last game for 3 of our seniors who are very endeared to the community. Everyone here loves them. This game was their last hurrah and we wanted to capture every moment of it.”
“None of this would’ve been possible without the VidiU Go. We were broadcasting in 720p 60FPS the entire time we were live for the game. We used the VidiU Go’s bonding feature to combine two 4G connections, which allowed us to get signal even inside the Coliseum when my phone couldn’t. When our team won, I had the camera streaming our team on Facebook as they came off the court for the last time. They were so happy, you could see the tears. Later that night, I went into the locker room to stream the post-game excitement in there. Even under how many layers of concrete, we were able to take our viewers backstage and give them access to the team that no one ever expects.”
The Only Way to Stream From Anywhere
“Having VidiU Go means we can basically stream high quality video no matter where these events are. Last month, we were at a baseball game at Jefferson High School in Jefferson, Georgia, and when we got there, we realized there wasn’t a space for us to set up. But it was super important for us to broadcast this game because it was 1 of the final 2 games in the regional championship series. So we decided to set up our station between the bleachers and the backstop.”
“When you go on the road, you never know what you’ll encounter, especially in playoff games that take you to places that you’ve probably never been to before. We might travel 3 hours just to play against a team where their baseball field is just the middle of a giant field. Getting Ethernet or WiFi out there is impossible. For us, the only way to accomplish this is with the VidiU Go. Bonding 4G internet at remote locations is so essential for streaming events that are outside of our control. With this, we can represent our school by going live from wherever we are.”
“Streaming has so much power to build morale around your entire community. If you’re trying to build a positive image around your school, what better way to show the world how great your school is than by live streaming it? We did a news cast where our agricultural and engineering departments came together to design a wheelchair for a lamb with bad hips. We live streamed the town parade where our basketball team celebrated bringing back the state title. These videos live on the internet so anyone who searches your school knows what you do. Live streaming is the future of education. Take your school to the world stage.