Exploring a tech tool for on-the-spot broadcasting in education.
GUEST COLUMN | by Mitchell Collin Fairchild
So, I finally got around to creating a Periscope account, and I even created a brief 30-second broadcast (tons more to come). I want to start off by saying that I love this app. Over the past two weeks, I’ve connected with people all over the world and I’ve had the opportunities to witness first hand, and have conversations about, everything from newly designed bus stations in Tel Aviv to breaching whales in Hawaii. This idea of broadcasting live to the world is exceptionally cool. Yes, MeerkatStreams and YouNow are similar in concept, but I chose to check out Periscope because it links directly to my Twitter (@EdTechRedneck).
Over the past two weeks, I’ve connected with people all over the world and I’ve had the opportunities to witness first hand, and have conversations about, everything from newly designed bus stations in Tel Aviv to breaching whales in Hawaii.
I honestly believe utilizing this type of technology to create “on the spot broadcasts” has the potential to make a huge impact in our classrooms. Think of all of the field trips we can go on and broadcast back to students who were unable to make the trip. We could plan personal trips to labs or museums and then broadcast back to our classes, where a substitute teacher would be waiting to enter questions from our students. Consider all of the organizations from around the world that our classrooms could connect with. What if we partnered with another teacher’s classroom from across the globe, or across the state, to perform dynamic team projects? (Yes, one of the classrooms might have to adjust their schedule to meet early in the morning before school or later in the evening after school…but the potential is awesome!) Educational organizations could use this app to revolutionize professional development events. And don’t get me started on the possibilities of using Periscope for flipped classroom events.
The concepts and ideas that are associated with Periscope from an educational standpoint are limitless and should definitely be attempted, but not before we come together to figure out how to best implement this beast in our respective learning environments.
So, after sifting through hundreds of Scopes (oh, scopes are what broadcasts are called and scopers are the people broadcasting), this is what I’ve observed:
1) Periscope is free to anyone via smartphone or tablet app (or via computer by way of the Internet).
THE BAD: Periscope is free to everyone.
Numbskulls, jerks, perverts, and politicians all have access to this tool and at any time can choose to be their normal selves and ruin it for everyone…If we let them.
THE GOOD: Periscope is free to everyone.
Every student, educator, and organization can use this tool to connect to one another and share all the creativity, technology, genius, and awesomeness they have to offer. It can be a bridge that connects student to concepts and ideas that can change their circumstances, situations, and world around them for the better.
2) As with most technological advancements, teenagers have mastered it overnight.
THE BAD: Student can easily broadcast anything using Periscope.
One of the first things I noticed was how easy it was for anyone, of pretty much any age, to scope, pretty much anything they want. As a father of teen daughters, it was shocking to how many teenage girls were seeking attention…from ANYBODY.
[Get on soapbox] C’mon parents—we gotta parent [Get off soapbox].
Then there were the teens that liked to scope live from their classrooms without their school’s permission. I have no problem with scoping form the classroom, but it needs to be with school/teacher permission. Unfortunately, the scopes I saw were by students who only wanted to make fun of the teacher or fellow classmates in an effort to get surrounding “friends” to think they were “cool.” Ironically, once I tweeted that I was going to call the office—the scopers stopped.
THE GOOD: Students can easily broadcast anything using Periscope.
Ease of use of any classroom tool is crucial. The ability of our students to share ideas, ask questions, and connect with people who have similar likes via Periscope is tremendous. The easier it is for students to interact with peers on specific topics, the easier it is for knowledge acquisition to takes place on a global scale. Inquiry is huge, and Periscope has the potential to encourage and help students hone inquiry skills.
We educators need to design our Digital Citizenship curriculum so that it puts a major emphasis on instant broadcasting. Just like any social media outlet (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and even Snapchat), students need to understand that once they’ve used Periscope to “put it out there” they can’t take it back. All Periscope broadcasts are posted on Periscope for 24 hours after initial broadcast is complete, then they expire forever. So within that 24 hours window anybody can make a recording of your broadcast.
We must educate our students on how best to utilize this potentially productive learning tool. Once we’ve taught proper use, we can then challenge students to find interesting, fun, and educational ways to use Periscope. This will make Periscope a more student/classroom friendly tool that is not only efficient, but effective as well.
3) Those watching a broadcast can comment on what they observe and everyone watching the broadcast sees those comments.
THE BAD: Instantaneous communication/feedback.
In researching Periscope, I found that there are a lot of rude people out there who think they are funny and enjoy posting rude, profane, and idiotic comments aimed at Scopers. These people suck. Some of the comments were mean, and just plain hurtful. Moreover, everyone watching the scope sees the rude comments in tweet form as they pop-up on the screen to the left. Why? Why? Why?
Please note: Once a rude comment has been made, the scoper can block that person from commenting again. The person watching the scope can also tap on the rude post and block the person from commenting any further.
THE GOOD: Instantaneous communication/feedback.
Instant feedback in Periscope is much like instant feedback in video game play. As a Design/Tech teacher, I love that video game play gives us instant feedback. My students create games that require the player to make a “wise choice” or “poor choice.” Student players are then given instant feedback as to whether or not their choice was beneficial to their character’s/avatar’s life or not. The students then learn form the feedback and build critical thinking skills that will last a lifetime.
Feedback in Periscope works much the same way. If a student is scoping on a topic, or a teacher is giving a lesson over a specific discipline, the Q & A session is live and the conversations can be very educational and very productive. There is a “virtual” (see what I did there) opening of the inquiry floodgates. The subject specific dialog that can be created, as the scoper reads the incoming messages, can be phenomenal. This feedback dialog helps students to rationalize on the spot about what is being said and asked during the scope. Like video game feedback, students build critical thinking skills and public speaking skills, which will help them in college and/or throughout their adult life.
4) Periscope can connect teachers and student to the world.
THE BAD: The entire class can be included in a Periscope event.
All teachers need to make sure that we have the necessary permissions to post images of our student on social sites like Periscope. Typically campuses have parents sign permission sheets at the first of the school year that either give or revoke permission for their child’s image to be publically displayed. Remember, some parents don’t want their child being seen online, and in some cases, the courts prohibit certain students from having their image posted online. Teachers need to be diligent in identifying who can be filmed and who cannot.
THE GOOD: The entire class can be included in a Periscope event.
Teachers can connect their entire class with other classrooms around the world. Students can experience life in far away places. American students can connect with educators, organizations and even family members from across the globe. The learning opportunities are limitless.
5) Students and teachers can be recognized for their input and be a part of a subject specific community.
THE BAD: Ain’t none.
THE GOOD: This is a win-win.
Students, and teachers alike, enjoy recognition form their peers. The most effective Periscope broadcasts I observed took place when the person scoping read the names of the people who tweeted questions, and then proceeded to start a dialog with them on whatever their particular topic was. Some scopers were interacting with “regulars” that they had commented and interacted with on previous scopes. There was a relationship that had been built, and the scoper made them feel like an important part of the scope. This has the potential to keep the students coming back for more and delving deeper into a subject they are passionate about.
Overall, my experiences have been positive. I’ve made awesome connections and I now have regular scopes that I subscribe to. The opportunities I’ve had to learn from other as they describe their environments and their culture. My Periscope experience is only a few weeks old, but I’ve learned so much from various people around the globe, and by giving students this same opportunity, we can help them open their minds to the world around them.
As stated previously, there is still a long way to go before this type of technology is commonplace in the classroom. I believe Periscope is trying to discover ways for making scopes more inviting and relational, and scopers more accountable for their actions. Until that day, I think there is still limited use for Periscope in our respective learning environments. I encourage you to download the app and start surfing the many scopes that already take place from the various regions of the world. Even if scoping with your students is not conceivable at this time, there are some awesome things to be learned from the scopers are worth sharing with your students.
Mitchell Collin Fairchild, M.Ed., is a design/technology teacher, a doctoral candidate writing a dissertation on the subject of technology in the classroom, and the founder of an edtech company. Write to: firstname.lastname@example.org