In the face of the worst pandemic in the last 100 years, maintaining strong ties within the communities we serve can feel like an uphill battle. Even with social distancing, it’s important that we continue to meet the needs of Oregonians and to maintain strong ties with each other as we face this public health crisis together.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us in Extension are faced with a dilemma: how do we continue to offer vulnerable community members the opportunity to continue engaging with the event-based programming they want to attend, but can’t?
Recently, 4-H and the FFA were planning the Grant County Modified Youth Livestock Exhibit. The necessary Covid-19 related precautions were planned, including social distancing and limiting attendance. But, the reduced attendance posed several drawbacks to the viability and effectiveness of this event and future ones like it.
Bonni Booth, the 4-H Program Coordinator for Grant County, learned about a local church that was successfully live streaming their service to those who couldn’t attend in-person. The church offered Bonni and her team a laptop, camera, and WiFi access to stream live video from their event onto YouTube. To leverage OSU Extension’s YouTube subscriber following, she reached out to Extension Communications to see if we had an official YouTube channel for streaming live events.
We didn’t have such a channel, but now we do. We present to you: OSU Extension Live, a YouTube channel dedicated to broadcasting your event quickly and to a large audience.
How OSU Extension Live works
It’s accessible from practically any device with an internet connection, even a mobile phone or a smart TV. People who prefer to quarantine can connect with their Extension communities. Those with scheduling conflicts can rewind the stream to watch the parts they had missed. Bonni told me after the event that grandparents of the 4-H youth who lived across state lines thanked her for letting them watch their grandchildren show their animals. Expanding our services to reach underserved audiences is a great perk, pandemic or not.
The Modified Youth Livestock Exhibit was six days long and included an array of activities that took place at different times. YouTube’s in-depth analytics shows which activities gathered the largest virtual crowds, and can even give a general sense of who is tuning in. These data points can help you determine which parts of the event were the most popular and which didn’t hold the audience’s attention.
This isn’t just a piece of the solution for social distancing, this is a paradigm shift for offering accessible content to people with all sorts of reasons for not attending an event in-person. All the while, accessing powerful feedback to help you shape your future programming.
How you can get started
We are working to make live video streaming to OSU Extension Live as easy as possible, but there are some extra considerations.
- You will need a data connection. Streaming won’t work without a stable connection to YouTube.
- University policy for youth programming states that a model release must be completed by all youth present on-camera. Most youth programs have a model release as part of their enrollment process, but make sure to bring extra forms to the event in the case that a youth without one wants to participate on-camera.
- If you elect to open up the live stream to comments, make sure someone is available to moderate those comments.
Let’s say that an event you are hosting is coming up and you want to determine whether to host a live video stream. What makes an event ideal for live streaming?
- Is your event intended for a public audience? If not, perhaps a video conferencing platform like Zoom is more appropriate.
- Do you have a way to advertise the event to your audience? Sharing the streaming link in an email or on social media with your audience and drumming up excitement days or weeks in advance will ensure the best turn-out.
- Is this a recurring event? Perhaps there is an unserved audience of prospective members who would like to see what your event is like from the comfort of their own home.
- Is there someone available who can periodically check on the webcam?
You are also more than welcome to learn more by attending our Extension Annual Conference session titled, “Virtual Program Delivery with Live Streamed Video” which is slated for Monday, December 7, 2020 from 10:15 – 10:45 AM.