Periscope is a FREE live streaming app that allows users to view and broadcast live “scopes” from around the world in real time. Live streaming is defined as transmitting or receiving live video and audio over the internet. Using Periscope, anyone can stream a live video through the app on their mobile device (available on Android and iOS) and viewers can watch these live scopes on the app, via the Twitter app, or via a web interface at https://www.periscope.tv/.Viewers can comment, ask questions, and send hearts to the broadcaster in real time. Hearts are similar to a ‘like’ on Facebook or Twitter.
Periscope is owned by Twitter; thus by signing up to Periscope with a Twitter account means that scopes are automatically streamed on Twitter as well as on the Periscope app. Users are given an account (a “channel”) on the website too, where all scopes can be stored and managed. A key benefit of this is that a link to a Periscope user (and thus the user’s scopes) can be shared with anyone, regardless of whether or not they use the Periscope app. The open nature of Twitter additionally means that, as long as the Twitter profile is not private, watchers can also view via this platform without needing to sign up for an account.
An alternative to Periscope is Facebook Live. An advantage of using Periscope is that non-users of the relevant social media platform can still access the streams live via a web interface; this is not possible using Facebook Live.
This case study has been written by Dr Cheryl Voake-Jones, MASH Coordinator and Teaching Fellow, with contributions from Hannah Crosby, Richard Burgess, and Emma Collins-Jones.
MASH is the institution-wide centre for Mathematics and Statistics Help at the University of Bath, United Kingdom. We support all students across the University in mathematics and statistics via drop-ins, appointments, service teaching and workshops. Cheryl coordinates MASH activities, provides support through drop-ins and workshops, teaches in a number of departments across the University and recruits and manages MASH’s team of tutors.
Emma is an alumna from the University of Bath and worked with MASH to enhance our social media, and later worked with sigma specifically on a Periscope project; sigma is a network for mathematics and statistics support in England and Wales: http://www.sigma-network.ac.uk/. Hannah and Richard are students in the Department for Mathematical Sciences at the University of Bath, and at the time of the project were in Year 2.
What we did
A core activity of MASH is daily drop-in sessions for all students from any discipline or stage needing help with mathematics or statistics. There are additional drop-ins specifically for Year 1 Mathematics students, which are run by a team of peer tutors, comprised of Year 2 Mathematics students. Our peer tutors noticed some common queries at the drop-ins and thus the idea of live streaming support was born.
We trialled the use of Periscope for a short live streamed “mini lecture” during revision week towards the end of the 2015/16 academic year. It was aimed at Year 1 Mathematics students and delivered by two of our peer tutors, Hannah and Richard, who also decided on the content based on queries at drop-ins and personal reflection on what they had found difficult the previous year. Brief notes were written by the presenters and the stream was advertised via social media (Facebook and Twitter) and email.
Using two tutors allowed one to write notes off-camera while the other presented. A benefit of live streaming is that watchers can ask questions and receive answers in real time, so the tutor off-camera was also available for this. Emma and I were also available to answer questions and monitor the stream in case of technological issues.
Live streamed videos are not designed to be polished. It was not designed to replace a traditional lecture or be a formal tutorial. Periscope streams are best viewed and recorded on a smartphone or tablet.
A screenshot of the scope is shown on the left.
There were a total of 66 individual live viewers, 55 replay viewers within 24 hours and 127 hearts during the broadcast (similar to a ‘like’ on Facebook/Twitter). After 24 hours, we were unable to monitor the number of viewers but had several requests for a copy of the video. Comments received include “extremely, very useful”, “a god send”, “fabulous”, “highly useful”, and we did not receive any negative feedback at all. Needless to say, it was popular with students!
Our student presenters enjoyed the experience too:
“My experience of using Periscope for the live lecture was really positive. Normally I would help students on a one to one basis, but when so many students have a similar question, it made sense to find a way to provide the same extra teaching to a larger audience. Despite being quite a daunting prospect at first, the informal nature of the live lecture made it very enjoyable and something I would highly recommend getting involved in.” – Hannah
“I found the live stream experience fantastic for teaching. There was a real sense of connection and interaction with the students usually lost in a video recording. I didn’t feel pressured to endlessly retake the video into perfection, I just relaxed into giving the class and focused on teaching the material.” – Richard
Benefits of live streaming
- It allows you to reach many students at once. For services/staff that receive common queries, it becomes a more efficient means of delivering content through reduced replication and a standardised response.
- Support can be delivered in a timely manner; live streaming is very quick and easy to set up and minimal resources are required.
- Students are able to ask questions (anonymously, if they desire) and receive immediate answers.
- Support is provided remotely; students can access the support without leaving home and logistical constraints such as large study spaces are eliminated.
- Live streaming is an “event”; students are more likely to engage with it than a video or other resource that is permanently available.
- Though an event, the stream is available later for students to watch in their own time (when recorded using Periscope), with the benefit of rewind and pause functionality.
- Staff can refer to the video later for such times when the same queries arise later. Each video can therefore be added to a bank of resources which can continue to grow.
Based on our pilot, the following tips are given for others considering using live streaming in education:
- Consider using students to deliver content. They can relate well to their peers, will remember the difficulties that they had in certain topics, will often explain things differently to a lecturer with a different perspective and, of course, it benefits the presenters too!
- Be creative! Live streaming can be used beyond academic content. Other uses include campus tours, prize-giving ceremonies and Q&A sessions.
- Highlight that downloading a new app or being a Twitter user is not necessary (if using Periscope), and that a web browser will suffice.
- Have non-presenters on hand throughout the broadcast to either answer questions directly or to feedback to presenters to address questions during the stream. They should also live stream the broadcast on another device so that they are aware of any technical issues.
- Make sure notifications are turned off on the recording device throughout the broadcast. You don’t want to be disturbed by an incoming phone call or email!
- Live streams are not meant to be polished! Do not over-practice, it could lead to a stuffy, formal stream. They are not designed to replace formal lectures or tutorials.
During 2016/17, we will take the learnings from our pilot to roll this project out wider, across more topics and more degree programmes. This is likely to be done during January and May revision periods, when students are most in need of support.
Please get in touch if you have any questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you! MASH is on social media: https://www.facebook.com/mash.bath, https://www.facebook.com/BathMASH and https://twitter.com/BathMASH. Due to changes in how Periscope works, our pilot video isn’t actually on our Periscope channel (you used to have to explicitly save them, you don’t anymore) – contact us if you’d like to see it!
You can contact us directly via email:
Download Periscope onto your smartphone or tablet.
- Familiarise yourself with the set up and see if anybody is live streaming nearby. The sigma guide to Periscope is available online to help you. Don’t be put off that it was written for maths support, the vast majority of the guide is relevant to all! http://www.sigma-network.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Periscope-Guide-FINAL-.pdf
- Search for users to follow on Periscope; many institutions in Higher Education have a Periscope profile.
- Be brave and record a live stream! It can be as simple and as short as you like, just something to familiarise yourself with the technology. You can always delete it later.
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