Streaming is now ubiquitous with most things we do, or for what I do at the very least! Netflix, check Spotify, check Apple TV check check! The ability to stream entertainment to our various devices either when we’re at home or out and about has now become incredibly popular, nay mainstream, and as long as you have a WiFi connection and a device, seemingly easy. All well and good for our social fixes but what about when you’re in work? Can streaming help deliver solutions that will engage all staff across a range of sites and different working set ups?
As part of the Digital First initiative one of the quick wins that was settled upon was to start streaming staff meetings so that there was a greater outreach for staff who are unable to attend meetings regularly or can catch up on at a more convenient time. Other positives included:
- Time saved…less travel time to get to meetings means more productivity and an opportunity to do more work.
- Increased staff flexibility….Staff can watch the videos whenever and wherever they please.
- Richer content…there is more flexibility with using different technologies and this content can be accessed easily at a later date.
- Web access…. streaming capabilities do not have a range restriction. Anyone with internet connectivity and access rights can participate.
- Eco-friendly….. Webcasting is virtual in nature and this means a considerable reduction in the environmental footprint.
For the pilot sessions Carl and I used a piece of software called Wirecast Play which was connected to the Libraries YouTube account, we then used a plug in camera which was connected to the laptop and hit Stream….Voila!
The good things to note about this piece of software is the ease with which it is to use, though I will note that it is quite click heavy as you go through all the set up, but once you have done this you can sit back and forget about the streaming and get on with either your meeting or presentation. With this particular piece of software you can also pre-load slides if you have them to appears side by side with you talking. You can also mute the content at any given time, such as when group discussions are happening and you don’t need your viewers to listen. Questions can also be submitted via YouTube rather than Wirecast from viewers in live time. The only negative of this is that you require a Google account to login to YouTube to ask questions which some of our viewers didn’t have. Another negative point came from the audio available from the speakers we used in the first meeting pilot. Viewers reported that the sound changed depending on where the speaker was talking in the room, and that when the audience clapped the audio suddenly got very loud and took a few by surprise. At the second meeting we used the audio from the laptop and this was more favourable, although still not a perfect solution. A final negative to note, and something that cannot be controlled by the streaming service, is the room itself. At the second event, the slides were projected onto a wall which was often hit by sunlight; this meant that viewers couldn’t always see the screen so were reliant on the audio sound more than ever.
Overall though this software is not perfect, the market is constantly changing and we can look for a better solution to what we require whilst continuing to use Wirecast Player. We feel that there could be better and more user friendly pieces of software available on the market such as YouTube‘s Live Event set up, or Live Stream which sees over 40,000,000 viewers watching events live each month. It would be interesting to hear if anyone else has any thoughts on streaming meetings online at the Library, or if they know of any technologies or pieces of software that we could test?