How to Tweet Live Video of Your Presentation with Meerkat

Meerkats-Auckland_ZooNo doubt you’ve heard of Meerkat and its coronation as the next big thing at the recent SXSW conference. If not, think of it as a mobile video streaming app that piggybacks on Twitter. Imagine a live video stream of Romney’s “47% moment,” and you’ll see why Meerkat has caused a stir. 

To quickly check it out, search #Meerkat on Twitter and you will be inundated with “LIVE NOW #meerkat” tweets – followed by a url. Click on the link and most likely you’ll find a screen that says “STREAM OVER. Tune in next time @so-and-so is live.” (Plus an invitation to download the app and follow the Tweeter). I’m guessing that most Meerkasts are people testing it out for a few seconds. But you might also get to watch a live screencast of a band rehearsal or a breaking news story. Time will tell if Meerkat is the next Instagram or Ello.

If you have downloaded the app its easy to sign up with your Twitter account. Don’t be afraid to try your own test Meerkast. Most likely no one will tune in so you can check it out in private. If any viewers start watching you they will appear as Twitter icons at the top of the screen. You can decide if you’re having a bad hair day and it’s time to shutdown.

I recently “Meerkasted” (is that now a verb?) a talk I gave to a small gathering of colleagues at the University of Portland. The app was easy and effective enough to demonstrate to me that Meerkat could be useful for reaching an off-site audience at presentations and other events. Meerkat doesn’t provide an FAQ, so here’s what I’ve learned through experience or research. 

In advance:
Meerkat allows you either begin a live stream immediately, or “schedule” one for the future (no sooner than 5 mins). If you choose to schedule, then others who follow you on Meerkat or Twitter will see your promo tweet (with an image you can upload). They can choose to subscribe via the Meerkat app or simply check back on your Twitter stream at the appointed time.

It could be my bad luck, but I tried to “schedule” a Meerkat multiple times and was never able to get it to work. (If someone knows the trick to that or has any other Meerkat tips, please leave a comment below.) So instead of scheduling it, I just tweeted out an advance notice to tune in to the event with date and time. Then I started a live stream just before I began the talk.

Tech tips for set up:

  • At this point it’s iOS only, but Android is sure to follow.
  • Meerkat is a bit of a battery hog. I suggest having your iPhone on a charger.
  • You’ll need a mount to hold your iPhone. I use a Square Jellyfish “Spring Tripod Mount.” It clamps securely on my iPhone 5s and provides a junction to a standard tripod. It’s adjustable enough to accommodate the larger 6 series and most iPhone cases. With a mini tripod, you could set up your iPhone on your lectern.
  • Be sure to set your iPhone in portrait format. If you try to shoot in landscape, Meerkat will zoom in and convert the image to portrait anyway.
  • The front facing camera works fine and points the iPhone mic in your direction. If you set the camera fairly close to you, it allows you to check your position in the frame. 
  • Stick with a headshot. While you can view a Meerkast on any web-enabled device, it’s really designed for the intimacy of iPhone viewing. I had a Keynote presentation going in the background, but kept it out of the frame. (There’s too much contrast to try shoot video of a person in front of a presentation screen.)
  • If you have the iPhone set up within a few feet of you, its mic should work fine.
  • If you choose to use iPhone’s iSight camera remember that the built in mic will be facing away from you. You’ll be “off-mic” unless you add external microphone. You could use a small directional mic, but you’re making this all it too complicated. Meerkat is useful because its simple. You could use a headphone mic, but do you really want your live audience to think your listening to music? 
  • My experience and some contact with other users suggests that the sound / image sync is more stable when you use your cell network rather than wifi. In my tests, it was always flawless over cell, wifi got out of sync half the time. (Another reason I keep my grandfathered unlimited data plan with AT&T.)  
  • There’s 10 sec delay between you and your Meerkast, so I wouldn’t spend too much time focussed on your iPhone. 
  • Your Meerkast audience can tweet in comments which will appear on your Meerkat app. (That interaction works best when you are doing a intimate Meerkast over your latte). I found them too small to read during my presentation. If you want to follow Meerkast tweets while presenting, you could have another device with you at the podium dialed into Twitter. 
  • You could respond to tweets coming in and do the whole “backchannel” thing, but that can get complicated during a presentation. Unless you have someone else to follow and respond to your Meerkast tweets, keep it simple and focus on your live audience.

After the session:
Since Meerkat only streams in portrait, a YouTube broadcast of your Meerkast will look like it was shot by someone who doesn’t know enough to shoot their video in the desktop-friendly landscape mode. Nonetheless, Meerkat allows you to save your livesteam to your iPhone at the end of the session. You could then upload that to YouTube or use in another context. That save feature seems to work fine for shorter streams. I tried to save a 50 min session and it failed.

Another option for saving your livesteam is to add #katch hashtag in the title of your Meerkast. Katchkats will automatically create a YouTube video and post it back to Twitter with your Twitter handle. (If you forget, you can tweet a #katch hashtag via the Meerkat app anytime during your session and your Meerkast will be saved). #Katch places some limits on lengths of Meerkasts – it failed to save my 50 min session because of it’s length. Note: If you shoot a Meerkast in landscape and save via #katch it still ends up on YouTube in portrait.

Bottomline:
Meerkat is easy to use, but the product is ephemeral. If you really want to share a high quality record of your presentation, you should be using another platform like UStream.

When I Meerkasted my presentation, I stayed focussed on the audience in the room. Meerkat was set up, running and other than staying in the frame, I ignored it. Since I was unable to save the presentation, I have no permanent record of the event. But I had a tech in the room tuned into to my Meerkast checking in on his headphones. From what he told me, it went fine. I had a dozen Meerkast viewers who didn’t tweet much. But that was fine with me since it was a test run. I’m keynoting and running some workshops at Southern Oregon University Ed Tech Summit next month. Tune in on April 17th and see Meerkat in action. 

Image Credit Wikipedia / Vườn thú Auckland

Infographic – Six Emerging Educational Technologies

The 2011 Horizon report identified six new technologies that will affect teaching and learning in the K-12 education community over the next five years.  

“Four to five years for Personal Learning Environments to have an impact?”  perhaps the Horizon report predictions on impact is already due for an update.?

Many innovative teachers are already harnessing these tools to to reframe the information landscape of the traditional classroom.

As I noted in Innovations in Teaching and Learning: Top Down or Bottom Up?

Head to the vendor area of an educational conference and you’ll see a “top-down” vision of innovation in schools – expensive stuff that delivers information – lots of flashy equipment like display systems, interactive whiteboards, etc. They might give the illusion of modern, but in fact they’re just a glitzy versions of the old standby – teaching as telling. Does anyone really think there’s an instructional ROI in jazzing up test prep with a “Jeopardy-style game” delivered by “cutting-edge display technology?”

In fact, the best innovation in instructional practice is coming from the “bottom up” – from teachers who find effective ways to harness the creative energy of their students. These teachers don’t simply deliver information to kids, they craft lessons where students can research, collaborate, and reflect on what they’re learning. They harness a flood of new platforms that enable students “see” information in new ways and support a more self-directed style of learning. Unlike the expensive wares being hawked by the convention vendors, most of these web tools are free.

In SmartPhone – Dumb School, I added

While I’ve seen some cutting edge schools / teachers that have effectively embraced mobile technology and social networking, too many educators see smartphones as a distraction from learning. Many schools block Facebook, Twitter and the rest of social web as if it was pornography.

So where’s this put our students? For many it means that they must leave their smartphone at the classroom door and surrender themselves to an information culture controlled by the adults. What’s the mobile context in schools? Not much, it’s banned as subversive to learning.

Every day in school, students must “forget” about the information control and functionally their phone gives them to browse, research, monitor, network, shop and entertain. While they might view a photo just posted to Facebook from a friend’s mobile as the catalyst to a conversation, their teacher considers it a distraction from learning.

…When students do get on a school workstation (laptop or desktop) they quickly realize that it doesn’t “know” them as well as their phone does. Their personal device carries a wealth of information that’s important to them – contacts, photos, data, memories. To the school desktop, students are just a user on the network with a limited range of permissions. The biggest problem with the school computer is that it doesn’t do “place” at all. That’s a stark contrast to students’ mobiles, which geo-browse via the growing number of locational apps and geo-tagged information stream.


Infographic credit: Saint Xavier University
Online Masters in Curriculum and Instruction

How to Market Yourself Online? Freely Share Quality Content

 

Content is everything

This morning I responded to a question on one of my LinkedIn groups. “If you could use only one method to market yourself online, what would do?” After being asked to elaborate on my initial comment, I decided to turn it into a blog post and a demonstration (of sorts). Note: While the question addressed promoting “yourself,” my focus is on promoting your ideas.

Promotion begins with freely sharing quality content. I use the Creative Commons BY-NC 3.0 license. Use it, share it, remix it. Just tell people where you got it, and don’t try and sell it. I’ve never been hesitant to “give my stuff away.” Remember, as the price of commodity drops, consumption increases. Who wants to go back to a site that hides all its content behind a paywall.

Freely sharing your material amplifies and “promotes” it in new ways. One of my most popular posts – Taxonomy of Reflection – has been modified for diverse purposes – from 2nd graders, to the SEC XBRL filing process. I would never have generated all those uses. I don’t even know what the second one is.

Remember, as the price of commodity drops, consumption increases

Each time I publish a new post, I use bit.ly to create a shortened URL along with a tweet pointing back to the new content. (I also send it to Facebook, Linkedin, and Google+). I then add the new post title and shortened URL to an existing text file – a running list of “bit.ly-ized” links to all my posts. I keep that text file on Dropbox, accessible from any of my computers and my iPhone. Your list of “bit.ly-ized” links is a great resource to add to your #edchats, conference backchannel tweets and emails.

I do much of my reading online, focusing on the space where digital literacy, social media, technology and education intersect. If sites offer the option, I’ve registered and created a reader profile – usually with an icon image, info about me and a link back to my blog. If I run across an interesting piece that relates to one of my existing blog posts, I’ll take a moment to leave a comment. I can easily use my text file of shortened URLs to include a link back to one (or more) of my relevant posts. If I happen to be one of the early commenters, I usually will detect a ripple of traffic in from that comment. My analytics show that often, these new visitors will continue on into my site to view a few more of my posts. Please note: I’m not suggesting you use comments as spam to paste a link back to your post. I’m talking about extending the conversation in a meaningful way, and including a link back to you, only if you have a post that’s germane. (I get loads of inarticulate, off-subject “comments” on my blog from sites like FreeTermPapersOnline.com. Does someone really think I’ll approve them?)

To help me find relevant content, I use RSS and auto notifications from a number of sites that steer me towards new material that I might enjoy and comment on. When I’ve written a particularly timely blog post, I sometimes will search on that news item and leave comments on other sites linking back to my post. For example, when the latest PISA test results were released, I placed comments with links back to my post Stop Worrying About Shanghai, What PISA Test Really Tells Us About American Students It was a unique take on the test results that sidestepped the typical “American education Sputnik moment” and drew lots of traffic. Plus the links in didn’t hurt my Google rating on “PISA test” searches.

So answer to the original question – if you could use only one method to market yourself (and your ideas) online – it begins and ends with freely sharing quality content. (And being able to easily access and add to your comments.)

Final note: When I’m done with this post, I’ll illustrate my method by adding a new comment to the Linkedin discussion with a link back.

Hat tip to Chris Wechner for his discussion group question.

Curating the Backchannel at the 3rd edcampPDX

The 3rd edcampPDX is being held Feb 4, 2012 at Catlin Gabel School in Portland Oregon. This Storify serves as a permanent archive of the event’s social media backchannel. I’m following the hashtag #edcampPDX.

An edcamp is a unconference-style day of professional development organized and given by the local participants. It’s free, democratic, participant-driven professional development. Great teachers, interesting conversations and an excellent chance to network.

Join Portland Educators at edCampPDX – February 4, 2012

edcampPDX is back! Calling all teachers, instructional technologists, IT Directors, Principals, Admins and Teacher Librarians who live in the Pacific NW. Join us at Catlin Gabel School on Saturday, February 4 from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm for our third edcampPDX.

Map | More info and sign up

What is edcampPDX?

  • It’s FREE, democratic, participant-driven professional development. Great teachers, interesting conversations and an excellent chance to network.
  • An unconference-style day of professional development organized and given by the local participants.
  • Follow Twitter updates at #edcampPDX  
  • Visit edcampPDX on Facebook.
  • More info on edcamps

What are the goals of edcampPDX?

  • Networking: Connect educators in the Portland / Oregon area
  • Instructional Practices: Learn new curriculum ideas, best practices, and/or tech integration ideas from other educators
  • Personalized: You customize your own PD by suggesting, facilitating and attending sessions about topics that interest you!

What does it cost?
The day is FREE!!! (unless you want to pre-order a $5.00 lunch)

Check these Twitter archives from edcampPDX I and edcampPDX II

edcampPDX II Storify
edcampPDX II Storify

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