How We Leveled Up Our Teaching Using Streaming Software

While we rely on the ease of connecting via video conference tools, for lecture capture, you may be seeking a more robust platform. William (Billy) Munroe and Benny Ng, Chemistry Faculty, and two of our TLi faculty mentors have sought solutions through Open Broadcaster Software (OBS). This freely available software can be used to liven up your lecture presentations similar to how Twitch streamers liven up their streams! Additionally, this software can be used to record your lectures and stream them to a variety of platforms, increasing ease of student access. Learn more about OBS and how Billy and Benny leveraged this option during remote instruction and how they plan to continue to enhance student access, even when students return to in-person learning.

How do you use streaming in your classes?

Billy: I utilize OBS to help record lecture videos of a higher quality. I’ve noticed videos being recorded directly through Zoom appear to be grainier than what I record through OBS.

Benny: Same as Billy.  I am using OBS to record lecture videos at the moment.  I am currently exploring different layouts and testing streaming to YouTube.  Once the layouts are created, I anticipated streaming my office hours in case Zoom is down.   

What inspired you to seek an alternative to video conferencing and move to streaming?

Billy: The Zoom outage during 2020 inspired me to find an alternative method to reach the students in case a repeat happened. 

Benny: The OBS software provides greater flexibility for instructors to custom different layouts to present information.  For example, one can simultaneously show the PowerPoint lecture slides along with your webcam and a document camera to enrich the presentation.  One can also add a cinematic effect (i.e. fading) to switch between scenes (layouts).  Again, if Zoom is down, one can use OBS to stream directly to YouTube live after the initial setup.     

How have students responded?

Billy: Currently I do not stream my synchronous class sessions. This is due to the latency issues as I am currently running my courses in a flipped classroom manner which requires me to have real-time communication with them when they ask questions.

Benny: Although I haven’t done streaming to my synchronous class yet, I anticipated students will enjoy the streaming experience.  Even if we use OBS to stream to Zoom, the customizable presentation layouts and quick scene transitions will be refreshing to our students who have been used to the same Zoom layout.    

What are your future plans for streaming (Post emergency remote teaching) as part of your teaching practice?

Billy: For the eventual return to in-person instruction, I think streaming &/or using the tools that OBS has can offer a benefit! I think the best use for me would be for office hours and group meetings. Here, I will have access to the tools to share images. I think this can help reduce the reluctance of students attending office hours, especially if they are scheduled during a time that a student would have to make a separate trip to campus to attend.

Benny:  I agreed with Billy that we can definitely run office hours via Zoom and/or streaming.  I will shift to OBS more and more to record lectures even if I am not streaming.  Last night, I just learned a technique that I can use OBS to create a scene that has a similar style as Learning Glass (light board).  It’s all done by software without the Learning Glass.  The more I learned about the OBS, the more flexibility I can have with my presentation styles.    

But wait there’s more…

If you’d like to learn more we invite you to join us on May 5th at 12 pm PST. Billy and Benny will be sharing more about how they’ve leveraged this technology in their teaching and their plans for continued use, once students return to in-person learning. They’ve also prepared a Guide for Using Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) for your reference.

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