Before the stream
This little series will aim to describe my lecture this semester. I was asked by my professor and the department to provide some 200 students with a lecture on “Strategy & Leadership”. I was quite happy to upgrade from the usual smaller seminars to the lecture and was well prepared to give this in person and end it with the usual multiple choice exam. And then corona happened and the semester was delayed.
As it turns out, the president of my university is the optimistic kind. “Be creative, find a way”, she said. Like an educational Jeff Goldblum “life find’s a way”-moment. The university also promised to provide several tools in the next weeks accomplish the thing, details to be announced.
In the next weeks. Teaching was supposed to start in three weeks and I needed most of that time to adapt to the changes, take care of my teaching assistants and re-do most of my slides. So, what to do? Especially since most of the tools either had a somewhat bad reputation of reliability (like Big Blue Button) or problems with IT safety (like Zoom). Not that I am an expert on both, but the news made me skeptical.
Upper picture: Other professors during online lectures
Lower picture: Prof. Tillmann during online lecture.
The University also suspected something similar and encouraged us to do the teaching pre-canned as a video recording. I saw myself talking into my PC camera without any interaction and was cringing already. I like humor and memes in my presentations like but I’m pretty sure that this is only (if at all) entertaining if seen live and lively and that it would be unbearably awkward if seen pre-recoded. So. Where can I send my lecture live to 200+ students, allow for interaction and have a platform that can handle the traffic?
I’m a gamer. I like to play grand strategy games of the nerdy kind, staring a maps for a couple of hours to push the borders of some countries outwards (Europa Universalis anyone?). So, my first thought turned to twitch.tv. A platform that is either famous for people watching other people playing games for 10 hours a day (what a way to make a living if you’re good at gaming) or either infamous for a lively debate on what can or should be considered content. I’m not going to wade into the discussion surrounding the derogatorily named “thots”, but there is a debate going on for anyone who is interested. So far, I knew relatively little of twitch, just due to the “live” nature and my conflicting schedules. I preferred uploads to YouTube from Arumba ((shoutout!)).
For me, twitch had all the needed requirements. It could handle thousands of viewers, offered a way to save the video and export it to Youtube for archiving reasons and allowed for enough interaction to satisfy a good lecture. But it also offered another advantage: Students could watch without making an account. The platform also offered several ways to use quizzes, polls and other instruments of live interaction.
So, I made my decision. I was going to live-stream my lecture on leadership and strategy (the first time I had the opportunity to give this lecture) on twitch.
https://www.twitch.tv/sebtillmann, to be precise. In the next posts I will give reflections on these sessions and what I learned doing them.