Cooperative Extension: Let’s go Live!

Our very own #EdTechLN member, Michele Walfred – Ag Communicator for the University of Delaware – has been an early adopter of live streaming technology. Michele uses Periscope to tell the behind the scenes story of Extension. Follow her on Twitter at @MWalfred


Live streaming video, facilitated by free mobile apps such as Periscope and Meerkat, are taking social media by storm. They pack potential as a unique way to market Cooperative Extension to new audiences.

Equipped with only a smart phone (most shoot at 1080HD) an extension professional or volunteer can share an event or activity occurring in real time. With a few easy steps, the person holding the phone, becomes the host, narrator, moderator, commentator, interviewer or cinematographer.

Your audience, who can attend from all over the world, find out about your broadcast through a variety of ways: points on a map, hashtag search, through linkage to your other social media accounts, like Twitter, and from the followers you cultivate. Any combination can factor into your audience profile. The apps make it easy to link your broadcasts to your social media accounts, or preserve them afterward to further share or archive.

Your audience tunes in and tunes out at will, and does not, generally speaking, expect a finessed production! We have YouTube for that! Live streaming is “in the moment,” informal and spontaneous. By default, audience members may interact and comment, and their voices contribute to the spirit and fun of live broadcasts!  There are no rules on length, though shorter broadcasts are more common. Three to eight minutes is typical from my experience. You can pop in and highlight a particular aspect of an event, or broadcast the event in its entirety. If you are starting out, it’s wise to keep it short.

As with other social media platforms, there is good, and not-so-good content offered up for viewing pleasure – and there are trolls. In future posts we’ll talk about how you can manage the conversation, or control your audience’s participation and preserve the integrity of your broadcast production.

While new live streaming apps continue to surface, two leading apps have emerged – Meerkat and Periscope. The choice, well, it’s like Coke and Pepsi. You have to try them out and decide which works best for you. It is a coin toss. Both will do the job. I selected Periscope, and users call their broadcasts “scopes.”  Best to download both, search a few topics, follow a few folks, and see how it works before jumping in as the next Charles Kuralt of Cooperative Extension.

Originally, the technology supported only vertical recording. Demands for horizontal recording were heard, and both Periscope and Meerkat now support recording in landscape mode. If you hope to archive your footage for use in other videos, or for b-roll, recording in landscape renders the preferred orientation.

Don’t sell it —story tell it. While Cooperative Extension is not a for-profit business or national retailer, we want to market our brand of trust, unbiased knowledge and integrity of our programs to as many people as possible.  We need to tell our story better, often, and use “all reasonable effort” to reach new audiences. As we explore live streaming in future posts, consider Meerkat or Periscope as a possible tool to share your extension narrative.

Stay tuned for:

  • Periscope tips (techniques, dos and don’ts)
  • Tools to make live streaming easier
  • Editing, archiving and troll management

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