River Trail School - An Affordable Morning Announcement System With Just An iPad

Wed, Jan 24, 2018

Budgets are no doubt the biggest hurdles when it comes to broadcasting in schools. Traditional equipment like cameras, switchers and encoders can cost an arm and a leg, especially for schools that are focused on core curriculums and other electives. But one of the most important utilities in K-12 schools is the morning announcement, which typically requires a bit of investing to do.  

So how can schools with strict budgets still provide a broadcasting system to their students?

Searching for A Solution

 

 

River Trail School in Gurnee, IL tackled the same question when searching for a way to launch their daily morning announcement program. Tammie Diana, Technology Teacher at the school, was tasked with creating the program from scratch.

“The principal had been trying to get a morning announcement program for a couple years, but never really had the time or money,” Ms. Diana explained. “When we finally created a broadcasting course, we needed gear that was both inexpensive and could get the job done. That’s when we stumbled upon Live:Air Action.”

What Is Live:Air Action?

Morning broadcast setup for River Trail School.

Live:Air Action is a free iPad app that can do live switching, effects, and streaming all in one. It captures video using the iPad’s built-in back camera, allows for adding custom graphics, and can even roll pre-recorded footage from the camera’s video roll. If you have other iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch), they can also be used as remote cameras which allows Live:Air Action to do a multicam production.

The whole app is integrated with all major live streaming platforms including YouTube, Facebook, Ustream, Twitch etc. Once the students are ready, simply choose a destination and Live:Air Action is good to go.

How Does River Trail School Use It?

Macs are used for scripts while the iPad captures and live streams to YouTube.

Morning broadcasts are 100% student prepared and published. “Students arrive early in the morning every day to take emails from the district that need to be announced to the whole school. They write the program for the day and prepare a script for the student announcer to read,” said Ms. Diana.

The iPad is placed on a tripod, with a student ready to control the switching functions on Live:Air Action. Once ready, they use the iPad’s back camera to capture video and a microphone for audio (connected to iPad via Lightning to 3.5mm audio adapter). The feed is live streamed directly to the school’s YouTube channel, which every teacher tunes into from their classrooms and projects the feed onto the classroom Smartboard.

The live streams start with a pre-recorded video of the class created logo and school song, which plays for a few minutes until the start of the show. This transitions to the announcements where two students read from a script and into the camera. For certain announcements, the students behind the iPad will loop in pre-recorded videos like yearbook sales and band fundraisers (preloaded into the camera roll via iTunes).

By Students, For Students

Students manage Live:Air Action from behind the iPad, rolling in commercials and pre-recorded footage straight from the camera roll.

Ms. Diana’s mission for the project was to give her students full control of the morning announcement productions, letting students decide the structure of each broadcast and giving them the tools to achieve it. This helps the students develop teamwork and creativity while giving the program an authentic student-run feel.

“Working together to stream the morning broadcasts helps them to learn valuable life lessons in problem-solving, responsibility and teamwork that they wouldn’t get in the general education curriculum,” said Ms. Diana. “It has a real-world experience to it because they don’t just sit in a classroom and take notes. What they produce in my class are real products seen by many people, and they know that they’re making a difference at our school.”

Student-run from start to finish.

And Teradek is glad to offer a solution that’s viable for Ms. Diana and her students. Since the school already owned iPads, implementing Live:Air Action meant saving money on having to buy hardware switching & streaming devices that’s above the school’s budget.

“Our setup now is above and beyond what we were originally doing and it cost us very little to do it. The students are able to learn a lot from using it and enjoy coming into class every day. I think that’s what makes extra curricular classes like these worth all of the effort we put in.”

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