I fell in love with Periscope, the free live-streaming app created by Twitter, this summer while at ISTE. Free, instant access to events happening around the world – finally! The myriad of ways I could see implementing it in my classroom overwhelmed me in a good way. Kids could periscope our class at any time to bring the world in. Students could interact with other students around the world. Students could have a real-time audience at any time we needed. We could explore every day moments in cultures around the world. On and on, the ideas went.
Yet, when I thought about it some more, I started to second-guess my love for it a little bit. I didn’t fall out of love, but I did start to question my own ideas, as well as the professional responsibility that I carry not just as a teacher, but also as an active conference goer/speaker. So what has made me slow down?
The need for privacy. Student privacy and protecting it is at the forefront of my mind as a teacher who shares the work of their students. Some of my students cannot be shown on the internet for a variety of reasons and that is something I respect. What if that child walks by in the background? What if their voice is heard? What if students start filming from our classroom and do not know who can or cannot be shown on the internet? This by itself is enough to stop me from using Periscope in the classroom, but there is more.
The need for respect. When I videotape something I have editing abilities. That means that anything silly, stupid, weird, or somehow embarrassing does not have to be seen by anyone but us. The “live” part of the live-streaming means there is no delay, no editing, no take back. What if a child says something mortifying, screws up, fails in some way and the whole world potentially sees it? One thing is failing in front of your peers and embracing it, another thing is failing in front of strangers.
The need for attention. My first job is to teach the students in front of me. Not the world, not the parents, not other colleagues. So whenever a tool is brought into the classroom, I have to make sure it is not creating a barrier between me and students. Being focused on live-streaming something means that I am not working with students but instead acting as a cameraman. Even if I am live-streaming something that I am taking part in, I am still not giving them 100% of my attention because that would be multi-tasking, which we know decreases our focus.
The need for intimacy. Some of the biggest moments that have happened in our classroom has been when students have let their guards down and trusted us all inherently. When the door was closed and just we were present. That intimacy is gone the minute I start videotaping anything. So often we end up capturing the not quite as great moments because that is all we can get.
The need for purpose. If live-streaming something will add value to the purpose of what we are doing than I will consider doing it, but if it really only boosts me as someone who shares, or in some other way becomes more about me than my students then I am not for it. I worry that some will use Periscope to boost their own popularity and lose sight of why we are all doing this; for the kids.
The need for permission from parents. While most districts have technology policies and permission slips in place that include sharing the work, name, and image of students, Periscope, I feel, is a new level of sharing. So as a parent I would very much like the right to know about its use, the purpose of it, and also have the right to think about it. When we don’t ask, we take that right away from parents.
The need for permission from speakers. I had a wonderful discussion on Twitter on what the protocol is for periscoping professional development/keynotes and such. It seems there is none, but there probably should be. After all, if a conference has spent a lot of money bringing a speaker in and I have registered for it that does not mean we get to share that conference with the world. What we paid for is our own experience. So bottom line is to ask before you periscope and respect if someone says no.
So what Periscope might be great for?
Professional development where you interview other great thinkers or interact in some way and make it about the sharing of thought.
Students sharing knowledge in a pre-determined way. It would be a great idea to have students run a small talk or demonstration purposefully sharing their knowledge with the world.
Showcasing environment or other non-student immersed ideas. I love the idea of being able to send someone a live stream showcasing my classroom set up, library organization or something like that. Again, purpose, control, and meaningfulness is at the forefront of my thinking here.
Tuning into a specific part of the world to see what daily life is like there. This fits nicely with the tag line of “Explore the world through someone else’s eyes.”
So while there are definite great uses to Periscope, I am hesitant to bring it into my classroom when the students are there. Perhaps I am too scared? Perhaps I don’t know enough? I would love to get your opinion on this.
I am a passionate teacher in Oregon, Wisconsin, USA but originally from Denmark, who has taught 4th, 5th, and 7th grade. Proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children. The second edition of my first book “Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students” is available for pre-order now. Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” is out now from Corwin Press. Join our Passionate Learners community on Facebook and follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.