Learning Community – App Fusion: Inside eLearnchat — Live Streaming Community Collaboration
Learning Community: By Terrence Wing, May 5, 2011, Via Learning Solutions Magazine
“Webcasting is a great tool to share expertise with customers, employees, the community and essentially anyone who would benefit from your message. Freeware has enabled you to position delivery of your message globally. Gone are the days when you needed multimillion dollar budgets to meet the masses. Today it takes simply a desire to do it and perhaps a passion for your message.”
Every Tuesday, hundreds of eLearning professionals have been building a learning community designed to improve the field through collaboration. If you’ve missed it, fear not. It’s an open invitation, anyone can participate, and it continues every week. Not only is it a great resource for finding out how vendors are improving their products, but it also serves as a forum in which you can see the ways that users are capitalizing on techniques and tactics using those products to ultimately increase learning outcomes. This learning community is eLearnchat.
eLearnchat is a live streaming Webcast that serves as a great resource and as a model for stimulating social learning in your organization. The founder, Rick Zanotti of Relate Corporation, revived his Podcast by restructuring its YouTube solo operator format. This format didn’t allow for much interaction with viewers and wasn’t the greatest platform for delivering independent audio. eLearnchat needed a facelift.
The show morphed from an audio Podcast to a live streaming video interview talk show with multiple hosts and guests. Rick invited me to partner on the show in the co-host chair. Together we invited learning professionals from all over the world to spend an hour discussing a topic important to them and to the eLearnchat viewers. Guests have included The eLearning Guild’s Brent Schlenker, authors Jane Bozarth, Clark Quinn, and Cindy Huggett, Augmented Reality Gaming designer Koreen Olbrish, and many more. eLearnchat is on its 21st show and is showing no signs of losing steam with upcoming episodes on Gaming, Mobile Learning, and Augmented Reality with Tagwhat founder Dave Elchoness. The channel has had over 8,200 views to date.
You can duplicate the model for eLearnchat within any organization. You can do it with a no-budget strategy or with a modest budget depending on your preferences. At the foundation of the weekly discussions is technology and content strategy. Each plays its role in making eLearnchat a success. Following are the applications and equipment needed to broadcast eLearnchat or your future streaming video Webcast.
- Webcams: Both Rick and I use the Logitech HD Pro Webcam C910. Guests use a variety of different Webcams. Image quality depends on your decision of which Webcam to use.
- Microphones: This again depends on your focus on broadcast quality. Rick and I use professional grade sound equipment. Most guests use a basic plug and play microphone and headset or the equipment in their computer.
- Skype Accounts: Everyone on the show must have a Skype account. The free version is perfectly fine. No need for the upgrade.
- Webcasting software (Wirecast or Vidblaster): eLearnchat uses Wirecast, which retails for around $450. Vidblaster has a free version if you can tolerate a modest watermark on your image. Vidblaster has a paid version that starts around $200.
- Video Webcasting Account (JustinTV or Ustream): eLearnchat uses JustinTV as its streaming site. Ustream is also a free viable option.
- Video storage site (YouTube, Vimeo): YouTube will host your Webcast archives in 15-minute increments. Vimeo has a generous video storage service that costs around $60 per year. eLearnchat uses Vimeo.
- Twitter account: eLearnchat uses Twitter to promote the show and to engage viewers pre-, post-, and during the show.
Provided you have at a minimum a Webcam and microphone with your computer, you can start your broadcasting career immediately with no budgetary considerations.
The second component is the content strategy. Operating a weekly Webcast can at times become very challenging. At first glance it may seem like Rick and I simply jump on line and start chatting with a guest but there is more to it. Following is the basic to-do list for building the strategy for eLearnchat:
- Decide what topics are relevant to viewers
- Identify SME guests for those topics
- Invite the SME guest and build the calendar
- Research the guest’s blog or information available
- Formulate questions for the interview
- Design any graphics the guest may want to use
- Run test of equipment during pre-show
- Broadcast live show
- Archive broadcast
- Start it all over again
It’s not complicated, but it can be time consuming. After all, eLearnchat is similar to a weekly talk show you would see on TV without the long list of cast and crew that shows up in the credits. Humbly, it is simply Rick, myself, and our guests.
Webcasting is a great tool to share expertise with customers, employees, the community and essentially anyone who would benefit from your message. Freeware has enabled you to position delivery of your message globally. Gone are the days when you needed multimillion dollar budgets to meet the masses. Today it takes simply a desire to do it and perhaps a passion for your message. You can join us every Tuesday at 10am Pacific Time.
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