5 Ways to Live Stream Your District's High School Graduations

posted Mar 16, 2016, 8:30 AM by Miguel Guhlin   [ updated Mar 16, 2016, 8:37 AM ]
Wondering what to do about video streaming high school graduations live? Yes, it is that time of year when superintendents are frantically turning to their technology staff and saying, "Help! We need to stream graduation this year! Can you get it done?" Of course, at this time of year, there is little budget to get the job done, so you have whatever funding is left over from the school year. 
While some school districts rely on an iPad with a Makayama Movie Mount kit, or a Macbook Pro laptop angled at the appropriate angle, hooked up to Google Hangouts, other districts are also using camera-equipped drones to capture graduations, or at least, the view as graduating students stream into the auditorium. Most solutions offer free live-streaming that is advertisement supported, but you can pay to remove ads and obtain more views. In this entry, you will find 3 approaches in use in Texas school districts.

Reminder: Have you asked for permission to video/audio-record or photograph students? 
Another important question to consider if you're going to stream is obtaining student/parent permission to stream video and post it online where it is publicly available. One approach that works is to include a media release in the student handbook that is handed out each year, as well as make it available on the District web site. School districts have crafted policies that assume all students can be photographed/videotaped, and parents have to "opt-out" their child by a certain date at the start of the school year. This information is prominently displayed in the student handbook, as well as the District web site.

Approach #1 - uStream.tv Gold Plan ($499 for 1 month)
"We used it last year for both of our graduations (8th and HS) and are doing the same this year," shared on Texas school district technology director. "We had around 30 people watching live.  We have all of our students sign a video release at the beginning of the year that includes online streaming." Looking for a quick, easy solution? What one district did was to sign up with uStream for the month of high school graduation streaming, then discontinue the account shortly thereafter. That's great given that uStream provides for "2000 viewer hours, unlimited viewer storage, branded with logo, restricted embedding, live analytics." One school district describes uStream in the following way:
UStream is our choice for streaming any video content out of the district. Works great. Can be embedded into a school blog or website. Can turn off the chat by embedding. It has other benefits. Anything we do adds to the burden of the network. I can say that we successfully streamed 15 separate UStream sessions last year all day long with no issues for the several hundred folks using the network at the same time during a conference. Every network is different, though. 
uStream is a great solution and you can't go wrong with this one.

Approach #2 - LiveStream Premium Plan ($399 + $495 for Broadcaster)
Similar to uStream, LiveStream also offers similar options for your high school graduation. However, the entry price point is a bit more expensive given the requirement for a broadcaster. Still, there is no limit for viewing hours, unlike uStream which has a limit of 2,000 viewing hours. You can also connect LiveStream to Facebook so that video appears on your District's Facebook location.

Approach #3 - VLC Media Player (Free)
The VLC Media Player provides for a no-cost alternative to more expensive solutions. Unfortunately, it may be technically challenging for those new to media streaming, and you might want to have a backup plan in place. Or, you could simply try it out first with elementary morning video announcements, basketball/football game streaming. One of the main benefits of VLC Media Player is that have control over publishing your stream.

Approach #4 - TheCube
TheCube provides a video broadcasting service that works on all mobile devices and streams to popular outlets like the Web, but also Amazon, Roku and more. And, they also provide a helpful starter kit for school personnel who want to start broadcasting via their mobile device of choice! 

Approach #5 - Facebook Live
Facebook now allows for video streaming. To accomplish this, you'll want to have a video camera and microphone ready to go, and a robust Internet connection (wired, not WiFi).

While approaches like these are geared towards mobile device users, with a relatively inexpensive video camera and microphone, you can capture the excitement of a high school graduation (or any school district event), then make it available as it happens or to your District's YouTube channel! No doubt, parents will soon have camera-equipped drones filming their graduating senior in the cloud up close...well, maybe that's a bit much and a drone would present an unwelcome distraction at a solemn event like graduation. Whatever solution you decide on, remember the pressure is on to create an engaging experience for the remote viewer!

Need More Info?
Looking for more information? While the solutions featured in this blog entry have all been used by Texas school districts, they do not encompass every available solution. Consider reading this buyer's guide of additional video streaming solutions that can be adapted for use in Texas school districts for streaming graduations!