Sunday, April 16, 2017

Broadcast Yourself!

To say this assignment was a challenge is an understatement. The best way to document this experiment is to divide my experience from the beginning, middle, and ending process.

The Beginning
On Wednesday and Thursday I could not decide if I wanted to do a personal or educational topic. Wednesday I decided to discuss a personal topic, and contemplated discussing my role as a mother or something pertaining to healthy foods etc. By Thursday, I was not sold on discussing a personal topic because I figured those who were family and friends of mine--people I expected to actually respond or take notice to my Live-streaming session, would already know my feeling and outlooks on the personal topics in my life; I'm pretty much an open book. I was frustrated by Thursday night because I was having trouble picking my topic and the week was close to an end. I'm usually not indecisive...believe me! It was Friday morning and I thought well, let me at least brainstorm on some educational topics I'm willing to discuss; for some reason online learning kept coming to mind. I wanted to talk about something that encompassed me as a virtual teacher because I feel like many people don't come across us and ask us some burning questions they have about cyber schools when given the opportunity. When strangers find out I'm a virtual teacher, they become so curious about my role and hound me with questions about our educational system. So, since I was leaning toward the topic of online learning. I decided to go with that topic after all, and created a Facebook post announcing my broadcasting event; I also posted this event on my blog and sent notifications through group text messages on my phone. I momentarily contemplated creating an Event on Facebook, but I thought, "I don't want to put people in the awkward position of saying yes, no, or maybe to my event." I know that feeling of saying "no" to something and then feeling like you need to explain why you could not attend. I simply created a Post and made it very casual.

Okay, so here was the fun part (insert sarcasm). I could not decide which platform to use at the same time I was having conflict over my topic. After reviewing some ideas from my instructor and asking around, I settled on these three: iPadio, Livestream, and Adobe Connect. Now, I already had an account with iPadio; I had to create an account with iPadio and do a Podcast for a previous class 2 months ago. Though I had an account with iPadio, I never explored the tool. There was so much about this tool that I did not know and still had no idea how to orchestrate. When I hit "Create Broadcast," they kept asking me to upload an audio, so I was stuck on that aspect. I figured those who wanted to listen to my Live Broadcast would probably have to call the number listed and enter my 4 digit pin, but I was not sure. Because I was so conflicted, I decided to put iPadio on the back-burner.

I moved on to Livestream and created an account next; it was a fairly easy process. Once I was in my account, I went to the Dashboard and hit Create An Event. I titled the event Online Learning. I set the date and time, and saved everything. "Now what" I said. I could see where the Share tool was located (it was a link), but I had no idea how I would go Live-streaming from there. After playing around with the tool for awhile with no luck, I decided to put Live-stream on the other back-burner while I searched around for other platforms before settling; now because I'm extra, I did search for tutorials and read some articles/blogs on both iPadio and Livestream, and was still confused. I totally think it's just me. While those two options were cooking, I came across Adobe Connect. Now, my school just started using Adobe Connect this year, but after poking around the website and then creating my account, I learned there was a difference between Adobe Connect Meetings, Webinar, and Learning. Knowing my school (my very frugal school) and our capabilities in this system, I know we have the Adobe Connect Meetings version. Adobe Connect Webinar and Learning differ in the sense that they offer everything Adobe Connect Meetings has, including much more. I chose Adobe Connect Webinar thinking that would be the best option for this assignment, and I was excited to see what other features were available; Adobe Connect Learning--reading it's description, seemed pretty cool. I have to be honest, I've never explored Adobe Connect all year. We're given a link, told to record LiveLessons, and then upload them to our Message Boards in our LMS system. Teachers don't create anything or manipulate anything, so I wanted to use this opportunity to learn more about this system I've been using all year. Since the setup and the creating of my Online Learning event was so simple, I said to myself, "Well, okay looks like I'm going with Adobe Connect." My trial was for 30 days, and I could have at least 25 members in the room. Everything was gravy... or so I thought.

                                                                         Adobe Connect 

The Middle
The next step was creating my presentation for the live broadcast. Since I had the option to share my screen and or upload documents, at first I decided to create a presentation using Prezi (I've had an account with Prezi since forever). While gathering data on The Benefits of Online Learning, I changed my mind somewhere down the line and decided to go with Microsoft PowerPoint; a couple of months ago every teacher's computer was upgraded, including the installation of the new Windows 10 software, so a part of me wanted to see the difference in Microsoft PowerPoint. It was actually pretty neat. I created my PowerPoint on "The Benefits of Online Learning," nothing fancy, and then I setup my room. I was ready; one thing I noticed different about this room and the one I use at work,was the addition of the Engagement Meter Pod--which was nice to have. I opened my room around 11: 30 am, and was awaiting the attendees; I made sure I had the settings changed to "Anyone with this url can enter the room."

So it was time. Around 11:45am, I started getting messages through Facebook and through my phone from people asking about some Adobe Connect Add-On that they had to download prior to coming to my live broadcast. I assured them that that sounds reasonable, and that it probably was better than having to create an account themselves. Well, then the real problem came. Everyone, and I mean everyone, who was trying to enter my room and contacted me, told me that they kept getting this message:

"The user has exceed their limit. Please contact the administrator" (something to this effect)

Of course this was crazy. I was allowed 25 individuals in my room. One person managed to get in my room Frank Howard--my husband's co-worker. However, upon my delay of starting at 12:00 pm because I was trying to assist others, he left and Tamika Johnson was able to enter. Now there was still just the one person in attendance. After about 30-45 minutes, of re-sending links, re-reading the conditions of my trial, and helping attendees with their questions, I finally realized they were only letting me allow 1 member in the room at a time. I then called Adobe Connect customer service, and the automated response told the caller twice that the agents could not assist those who did not purchase the software; I still attempted to speak with an agent, but the call was dropped. Feeling defeated and really upset (more like pissed), I decided to make a decision. Either go along with my live broadcast with only one person in the room, or find another platform. I chose the latter and decided to quickly return to the tools on the back-burner. Luckily, my family and friends who I was conversing with via Facebook and through text messages were willing to hold out for me to get things in order.

The End
I simply could not figure out iPadio. Again, I think was it was just me. For the longest I was trying to get from their homepage to my personal settings, and realized I had to bit "Beta Admin." I was going in circles with iPadio, and with people waiting on me, I did not have time to figure the basics--especially when I had no clue where to start. That's when I turned to Livestream. Now, I was in my account, and again, I was trying to figure out how to live broadcast--quickly. It took me about 5-7 minutes after clicking around, to realize I had to use a Livestream Producer (this popped up on the right when I clicked Editor, and then Live Tools (I know, seems previous obvious). Well after that, I made sure my PowerPoint was awaiting, along the videos I intended to share.

Honestly, I started, stopped, and re-started this live broadcast at least 8 times! 8 times! Here are the list of issues I ran into: having people entering; the picture (my camera and the screen); loud static noise; no sound at all; an extreme lag. When I hit Live Broadcast, I did not know I could not pause anything, or that my face and screen would immediately be shared. While the live broadcast was going, the very first time, I sent people the link to my Livestream, and everyone said they could enter my live event once they signed up or in using another platform. I'm seriously so grateful for these individuals who worked with me! So I stopped the first broadcast after learning I was being recorded helping others. Silly me! Then there was the issue with juggling the camera and my screen, and figuring out how to view the chat box (by pulling up Livestream on Google) without the shared screen creating some sort of weird tunnel affect; I kept switching between focusing solely on my computer screen, and then visiting the Livestream website to look at the chat box-- you'll note this when viewing my recording. It took awhile to setup everything--hence the starting, stopping, and re-starting process. Then I came across a loud static noise. Everyone else could hear it too! It was extremely loud, and I had no idea how to fix the issue. I kept visiting the Audio tool and adjusted some switch and clicked on things such as Speaker input and Microphone input etc. until I no longer heard the noise. I had no idea what I was doing; not to mention an alert at the bottom of my screen, to the left, notified me if things were streaming correctly or if my CPU was down and recommended closing apps. There was a point when I did not have any sound at all, and then I faced the extreme lag. Now, I remember finding the "enable lag" bottom in the settings and un-checking that box myself. That did not work. To be honest, after working hard to get this live broadcast going for almost 2 hours, I decided to go with the flow. I reviewed the recording afterwards and found some issues--such as no sound during the video clips even though Jessica McNeil could hear them, but I was overall satisfied considering my day. I do remember ending the live broadcast too soon, so I entered the event again to answer questions in the end. That was nice. There were 5 people overall in attendance (Tamika Johnson, Mona Bradwell, Jessica McNeil, Briana Smith, and Cookie Carr), and I was pleased.

                                      Online Learning Event-Finished Broadcast to the Right

Livebroadcasting while checking Livestream--see the tunnel affect on the screen

                                                                               Chat box!

At first I thought to myself, "Well technically, I do a live broadcast every single day during LiveLesson, and I use a webcam and record myself too. This should not be that bad." What I did not factor in was the fact that at least in LiveLesson, I'm covering a topic I've been covering for years, and, I know how to wing awkward technical issues with teenagers as my main audience. These technical issues were bad, and due to the lag, I wasn't able to deliver a powerful presentation because I kept hearing my voice echo in my ears, or the lines I delivered 2 minutes ago, repeat through my headset while I was talking. I was going crazy. Luckily, my audience members said they could not hear those echoes. Would I use this platform again, probably not. I would use something a little less complex. Less is more in my book. I don't want anything fancy. I prefer platforms that have more of a virtual room format--only because it makes me feel like I can control a space, prepare in advance, etc. Even though Livestream is not my favorite, I can't deny this entire experiment was a learning experience, and I learned the power in having back-ups plans in place when things go array.

Livebroadcast recording on The Benefits of Online Learning:

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