Today I decided to test USTREAM.tv. I’ve seen any number of people recently streaming from their various locations, such as conferences. It was a way to either bring those remotely to the presentation or to share a presentation (such as a keynote) with others.
In October we will be holding the first meeting of the EDUCAUSE Virtual Worlds Constituent Group. Last year it was a “hot topic discussion” and due to the success of that, and the forward motion of virtual worlds, EDUCAUSE granted my request to form a CG.
During last years meeting we showed the in-world location through a data projector but it was too complicated to have the on-site location streamed back in world. It is time to start our discussions with EDUCAUSE’s fantastic tech people and the question came up again about the ability to stream back in world.
I wondered in Ustream might be a solution and so decided to test it out today.
As you know by know, I allocate 15 minutes with these new applications in order to see how far one could get in a short time frame. Anyone has 15 minutes to check something out. More tech savvy folks that I will do things faster, less tech savvy folks might take longer – so I selected 15 minutes as a good jumping off point.
In that time frame I was able to get my account set up, figure out how to get the video to show through my built-in camera (in my MacBook Pro) and how to start a broadcast. Of course, the problem was, in that short time, and now in the times it’s taking me to write this, I had nobody come and watch my test. Poor me.
It was not intuitive at first and I would recommend that the folks at Ustream take some time to improve the first minutes experience for new users. I was a bit confused, having never tried anything like this before. It didn’t take me all that long to get going, but I was resolute because I have a need. Others, less comfortable with technology, might have given up.
There is a LOT to this service and I’m very surprised it is free. Looking for now at the main page during a broadcast you can show just the video, just the audio, or both. There is a place to determine which video or audio source to use, so a web came and portable or wireless microphone are almost certainly an option (I am going to test that). You can slider up and down the audio and video quality, if you want or need to compensate for conditions at/in whatever you are streaming. And you can record as well as just broadcast.
In a bottom window you can have chat, which is great for those who are viewing. There is also a place for advanced settings, which tells you all about adjusting frame rates, mixing sound, and so on. Next to that you can create a poll, have co-hosts, send the broadcast to Twitter, and something called Overlays, which I didn’t have time to figure out.
All-in-all these seems like a great tool. While I was writing this someone popped into my broadcast. I waved, said hello, and asked him/her to chat, so I knew who was out there. This person decided not to engage me, or to take my poll (asking if s/he could see the poll LOL). The first person popped out as quietly as s/he popped in and a few minutes later, another person (or the same one, perhaps) came in but did not engage. It’s certainly possible that there were technical problems, that the person was not familiar enough with the program to use it, or someone was just lurking. In either event, I learned how to use this and now my mind is spinning with all the different ways this could be used in teaching.