Friday, August 14, 2015

My Thoughts on the Periscope App

Periscope is a relatively new app from Twitter. Actually Twitter purchased the app for a reported $100 million. The iOS app launched on March 26th not long after a similar app called Meerkat was launched. The Android app was released on May 26th. 

So what's all the fuss about? People are using it to stream copyrighted content, like the Game of Thrones premier and the Mayweather v Pacquiao fight. +Carl Hooker wrote a blog post about his concerns regarding using the app to stream content without the providers consent. I hadn't really thought a whole lot about the use of the app until I read his blog post. I watched him all last week try it out in various places. It's been a good experiment and forced me to think more about its use. 

I think what makes this app different from others like, Google Hangouts, Skype or Facetime, is ease of use. Once you install the app, you connect it to your Twitter account. That's it! You are ready to go. Then you press 1 button, give your broadcast a name and your off! There is no one to invite. No plug ins to install. Nothing to log into (again and again). This makes it easier than Skype or Google Hangouts and of course better than Apple only, Facetime. 

My colleague +Jordan Garrett and I did an in-district professional development session, at the end of May, on using Schoology (our newly adopted LMS). Our district director of professional development streamed the entire session for those who could not be there. We did not have a lot of experience with the app. It was done on her iOS device, so I'm not sure how many viewers we had at that time. The app was only about 2 months old at the time. There weren't many people using it yet. We did have a few staff members who were able to tune in and see part of what we were doing that day! I consider that a success. I think this is a great use of Periscope! At this time replays are available for 24 hours after the original broadcast. I'm not so sure this was the case in May.

I don't use notifications very much on my iPhone. I find them very distracting, but I thought I better set up notifications for Periscope because it's all about the here and now. I saw that more and more people where streaming and, I noticed that a lot of educators that I follow on Twitter started following me on Periscope. I also have an Instagram account. I follow a lot of TpT educators on Instagram. I don't buy anything from TpT but, I like to see the ideas and freebies they offer. There are also quite a few good bloggers who do TpT. Anyway, I noticed that a lot of these teachers started advertising their Periscope broadcasts. It was as if they had just been given their own television stations. Personally, I thought most of what they were scheduling to share was worthless self promotion. I wondered, "What does this add to the educational conversation? Does it have value?" I didn't think so, again just my opinion. I also realize that if it has no value for me I can choose not to watch it. I get that.

I've done 4 Broadcasts. The 1st was from an Ed Tech Teacher Workshop where I assisted in downtown Chicago this summer. The participants were on a video scavenger hunt. It was a fun experience for the participants but, it didn't really add a whole lot to the ed tech conversation. Next, I streamed Jordan Garrett's 1 in 3 ISTE presentation on iSWAT for the folks back home! Then, I streamed Jordan and I presenting Incorporating Tech into the Reading/Writing Workshop at the District 47 Transliteracy Conference this week. That was interesting because I had my phone sitting on the tripod in the landscape position for part of it when the app doesn't work in landscape position. Thanks to Carl Hooker for giving me the heads up on that one during the Broadcast (and some inspiration to write this post). The Broadcast was 1 1/2 hours long. There were many people who came in and out. A few that we knew and many that we didn't.  I noticed that after that Broadcast it is now possible to save your Broadcast to your camera roll on your device. This is new feature implemented on August 1st. I think this is a game changer and will attract more people to use the app. I downloaded the video to my phone's camera roll for now, but I'm not sure what to do with it yet. Perhaps I will edit it down and put it on my You Tube Channel. Finally, I Broadcasted our family playing mini golf this afternoon for 3 minutes. I suppose if my audience was family and friends this would be a great use of the app, but my followers are all ed tech people. They probably don't care to see me and my kids playing mini golf. 

I love that we have used it to stream professional development for all. I think if we do it again we have to be a little more deliberate about having resource links in the background. In the end I have really been thinking a lot about how to use this in the classroom with students. I teach in a K-8 district so kids can't have their own social media accounts, except for a few 8th graders, but this could be used with a classroom account. I had a few ideas about how students could use it. They could stream a tour of their school or neighborhood. Students could stream an animal dissection and then use Twitter or Today's Meet to have a back channel chat to answer questions or just do Q & A through the app. I think if you left it up to the kids they would probably come up with the best ideas. I think I will do just that and blog about it again after we see what THEY create! 

Here is 1 more new feature that I think is great. This comes from the Periscope blog.

iOS/OS Handoff
You can start watching a broadcast on one device, and transition to watching it on another seamlessly. Simply ensure both are running iOS 8+ or OS X, have Bluetooth turned on, and are logged in to the same iCloud account. This is great for when you’re watching a broadcast on your Desktop, and want to quickly switch to watching on your iOS device (or vica versa).

In Summary
I think this app is popular because of its ease of set up and use. 
I think the Broadcaster needs to be sensitive to their audience and not broadcast just for the sake of broadcasting.  
This app has some great features and lots of possibilities for use in the classroom.


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