Episode 99

How to Do Livestreaming with Online Courses, Membership Sites, and More

For the best online learning experience possible, you really need to include a live element in your courses. In today’s LMScast Chris Badgett and Mark Nelson of codeBOX talk about how to do livestreaming with online courses, membership sites, and more.

Livestreaming is basically real-time interaction with people through any device they use. Events, podcasts, and even interactive conversations can be livestreamed through the internet. It’s like a Skype session or video internet call, but it’s embedded in an application like your online course for a potentially broader audience. You probably won’t want to livestream your entire course, but as a support feature it’s extremely effective.

Setting up for livestreaming has become quite accessible with services like YouTube Live, which interfaces with WordPress. Livestream and Ustream also allow you to schedule broadcasts and collect analytics. For best results, though, you’ll want a custom setup on your own server that gives you minimal latency and complete control over your livestreaming. This is where codeBOX web development can help you with a custom setup.

In a blended learning environment you incorporate multiple teaching methods to reach each student the way they learn best. A livestreaming element contributes significantly here by adding a level of human connection that is too often absent in online learning environments. It demonstrates that you’re a real person who takes a personal interest in your students. It’s also an added value they’ll be willing to pay for.

You could have online office hours, live quiz sessions, or scheduled discussions where you’re available to your students for live Q&A. It offers you a unique opportunity to meet your students and provide adaptive, personalized learning in response to your live interactions with them. Beyond that, it allows students to interact with each other in a real-time online community setting.

To find out more about how to do livestreaming with online courses, membership sites, and more, or to discuss options we can help you with for your own custom project, visit us today at gocodebox.com.

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EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Chris: Hello, and welcome back to another episode of LMScast. My name is Chris Badgett, and I’m joined with Mark Nelson. Today we’re going to be talking about livestreaming, how to do livestreaming for online courses, membership sites, learning management systems, and more. Now we ended up getting some unique experience with livestreaming, and of course it’s an important part in our quest for creating better online education options and educating the community about what’s out there and what’s possible, but let’s take it back a second and start with what is livestreaming? How would you define livestreaming, Mark?

Mark: Livestreaming, it’s just real-time interaction with people. It can be one way, and you can livestream an event, or livestream a podcast, like we’re doing right now, or you could have a two-way conversation where you livestream with one or more people. It’s just real-time communication.

Chris: Absolutely. I think it’s important to realize, we’re all kind of used to perhaps using something like having a Skype call, or doing some kind of voice over IP, or video internet call, but when you put livestreaming in the context of something else, that’s more what we’re talking about here where it’s embedded in whatever it is that we’re teaching, or an application that we’re building, or whatever goal we’re trying to do with a web property or application. We’re introducing a livestream component, which of course is really important for online education. It doesn’t necessarily have to be just about clicking play on a bunch of videos that were recorded a long time ago. It doesn’t mean you have to go all the way in to livestreaming is all that your online courses are, but perhaps you want to blend in … you’ll have your passive video course, but then you’ll also have monthly livestreaming broadcasts, or two-way conversations.

There’s just so much opportunity with livestreaming, and with our web development company, the company behind LifterLMS, which is called codeBOX, you can find that at gocodebox.com. We’ve been recently built a livestreaming solution for an auction management system, so there’s all kinds of different ays you could incorporate livestream. How does someone get started, if they’re first getting into livestream, Mark?

Mark: Livestream’s really taken off this last couple years, especially in 2016, you started to see it a lot more with YouTube Live, Facebook has their own livestreaming service. Everybody’s getting into it, and that’s because it’s becoming more approachable from a development standpoint. Things like Skype, and Zoom, have been livestreaming for a long time. To be able to put it into the browser and allow people to access it from their phones, and tablets, and desktops, and being able to have a reasonable latency … which latency is the time in delay between people communicating, really moving into a place where it’s actually feasible. Really, livestream’s always just been thought of as chat. Chat applications, business meetings, or talking to your friends, or maybe team meetings, getting together, bridging that gap.

I think the possibilities are really becoming endless now that it’s becoming more of an approachable thing. It’s really easy to get started with livestream now. YouTube Live is probably the easiest, or even Facebook. YouTube Live, you can embed that into WordPress, and then you can just start up your channel and start sharing whatever you want to do. I think it’s really cool that entrepreneurs can start thinking about new ways to use livestream for interaction. It’s not just maybe a seminar, but maybe there’s office hours that you’re open, and people can pop in and say hi, and ask you questions, but you’re actually physically there. There’s this human touch element to it. Or, even just livestream quizzing, and discussions. It’s really cool. I think the things that we’re going to come up with over the next few years are going to be amazing, and it’s really going to become a big key role in online education.

Chris: Absolutely. Yeah, if I was just getting started, perhaps I could add a Facebook group to my online course, or my membership. Then within that group, I would have a schedule when I would be broadcasting, or have the livestream turned on. That way, you could introduce it at low cost, let Facebook do the heavy lifting to bring in that technology. You’re leveraging Facebook and that group there. What if I want to build my own livestream solution? How do I do that?

Mark: It comes with the ‘you get what you pay for.’ It’s really easy to get into using YouTube Live, or Facebook, and get those set up, and maybe you want to do that, just to find out … get a feel for how you like using it, and maybe how your customers like using it. Do you get a lot of people that are interested in it? You could even do polls, or just start hosting some live events, see who shows up.

When you start to get more serious about it, there are avenues like Livestream, or Ustream, they’re excellent systems that you can start to … They do the scheduling. They have more stuff that you can set up for your livestream. You can get a lot of analytics back from them. You can get a lot of analytics from YouTube, too, they’re actually pretty good. Then, there’s the big one, which is some of the stuff that we’ve done for our clients, is where you actually set up a livestream server and the big benefit to that is extremely reduced latency, and full control over how you’re going to handle it. There’s a lot of custom things that we could build into the livestream, with interactions and analytics, that you can’t get from the traditional third party sources.

Chris: Absolutely. Yeah, so if you’re … It’s cool to use Facebook, and Periscope, and Blab, and YouTube Live, and all these things, but there comes a point with your web property where you may want to have your own custom solution that you own, and does exactly what you need it to do. Like you mentioned, reduce the work on the latency issue, if real time down to the second is pretty important to you. There’s things you can do there. If you’re interested in finding out more about a custom livestream project, just go send us a contact at gocodebox.com, you’ll find the contact page there. We can go from there.

Let’s talk a little bit more about online education and livestreaming. When we talk about blended learning, often we’re talking about what are we blending? Are we blending a live classroom experience, like in person, along with some take home video course, what’s really cool about … that’s how a lot of people think about blended learning. If you look at livestreaming, you can do it without having an in-person classroom, so you can still have that global reach, then also bring in that live component. Which, if you’re interesting in charging more money for your course, or your platform, or maybe you want a smaller group of people in it, have it be more intimate and exclusive, livestreaming is a good way to add that value. Nothing beats the live face-to-face human interaction, even if it’s through the internet. Any other ideas, Mark, on how you could bring livestreaming into a learning management system, or online course, or membership site?

Mark: I think it’s pretty simple and can be approached in a really simplistic manner. We have a client that does really well with his scaling the human touch. He does a lot of stuff with emails, and a lot of stuff that LifterLMS already provides. He’s using all those different tools. One of the things that he does is he does a session where he sits down, people can get on and just start asking him questions and then using the livestream component, he just answers their questions in real time.

I think it’s one of those ways that you can really give people a sense of value in what they’re learning and what they’re paying for, if they’re paying for something. It shows your level of interaction interest in their problems. The issues could be related to the course content, or they could be life issues that he’s answering questions about. I think that’s a really good opportunity to scale that human touch.

That’s all types of different ways you could do it. Start small, just start with posting a schedule to see how many different people sign up for it, and then start it. Even if there’s only a couple people, just keep going. It will attract people. When I do a lot of online courses, and that’s one of the coolest things that I’ve found that’s starting to be a big trend with online courses is that there is this … not all of it, in fact, it’s probably 10% of the course will be a live interaction. Some of the courses I take, you do a lot of videos, you do a lot of book work, a lot of homework assignments, but once a week, there’s a 1 or 2 hour live session where people can sit and just ask questions about all the stuff they’re trying to cover.

It’s really cool because you get answers that you wouldn’t get. When you do something like a livestream where there’s multiple people, it’s not just you engaging with the professor or you engaging with the course author, you’re also engaging with the other people around. You make other connections, you build friendships, you build business connections. It’s an awesome way for people to connect that you just can’t really get from just a basic chat, or forums, or comment sections.

Chris: Absolutely, yeah. We’re big believers in the power of community and the place that needs to be to be a part of the online education system. Especially online where, if you’re not going in person, it’s easy to get isolated, or just not have those benefits of community. By introducing that livestream element, you can bring in that community piece. That’s awesome.

Think about it like a podcast, or YouTube video, or whatever. What if you could get to the end of the video, and raise your hand, and start talking to the person there? It would become way more interactive. Some of the big buzz words we hear today in online education, and things that need to change, and learning, are adaptive learning and personalized learning. What better way to adapt on the fly and change your role or your approach to teaching when you have live interactions from your students? You can see what’s landing, you can see what’s not landing well, and you can adapt on the fly to increase that engagement. You can also personalize it. You can call on people in the group. You can bring out examples that are the most relevant to the individual, the group that’s on the call live with you.

Mark: Yeah.

Chris: Lots of opportunity there in livestreaming.

Mark: I think anyone who’s ever taken a course has moments where they have a question that they can’t get answered. It’s just pretty much when you’re watching a video of someone teaching you and you’re like, “Well, why did you do it that way?” It’s a lot to go into forums and then ask the question, and get the response, when it’s just a simple question that you could have shout out to them and they could have given you an answer that sometimes you can’t get from a forum. It’s just knowledge that’s being passed down, like when you’re hanging out with somebody and you’re shadowing someone for a job, there’s a lot more you can learn than just watching a course on that. That’s what livestreaming gives you the opportunity to do.

One of my favorite course authors is Chris Coyier. He doesn’t do livestream, but one of the things he does in his video is he doesn’t edit them. He just lets them run, and so when he runs into an issue, and these are development courses … when he runs into an issue doing his development, he de-bugs the issue right there in the video. Sometimes he’ll make a simple mistake, and it’s obvious, and he eventually finds it. It’s a really good learning opportunity to watch someone go through that, because you’re picking up a lot of things that you wouldn’t pick up if he would have edited it and just give you only the facts. You get some of the discovery process as well as just the information.

Chris: Yeah, there is such a thing as being too polished. That’s a danger of going live is that you might make a mistake, or you might say “Um,” or you might click the wrong button, or say the wrong thing, or put the wrong slide up, but through all that, you could create a more real learning experience. In the same way that if you think about why Facebook is popular, it’s popular because it’s essentially trying to take how real human relationships and friendships work, and bring that on the internet. If you’re serious about bringing … and of course, they don’t do that perfectly, but they do a pretty good job and in some ways, do things that aren’t possible in person because you have the internet and this digital world.

If we’re serious about online education, if we want to take how people actually learn in the real world and try to put that on the internet, or on the world wide web, there’s no way you could look at that without somehow incorporating the live component. We’re designed to learn through mirror neurons and interaction with other people. There’s got to be some kind of live element if you want to really create the best possible learning environment.

Mark: Yeah, I totally agree. It’s a lot of fun, too. It’s a cool way to meet the people that are taking your courses. From your side, it’s really beneficial.

Chris: Absolutely. Well, that’s awesome. Well, thank you for checking us out at this episode of LMScast. If you want to find out more about livestreaming and discuss options for a custom project in that world, go to gocodebox.com. Thank you for listening. Thanks for listening. Thanks for coming on the show, Mark, and we’ll catch you in the next episode.

Mark: All right, thanks.

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