Using Livestreaming to Reach Beyond Hands-on Learning Spaces
A Libraries channel on a popular live streaming platform that features our Makerspace, VR Studio, and Libraries staff.
Twitch is an informal, virtual space where anyone can stop by and see what our services are all about. The ncsulibraries streamers interact with viewers in real-time over chat, answering questions about our equipment, programs, and the Libraries while they showcase the technology and expertise of these spaces live.
Especially while some of our physical spaces are closed, this is a great way to have everyday, informal interactions with people about the Libraries and continue offering help. Our drop-in hours for the Hill Makerspace and VR Studio let anyone follow along at home and talk about topics like 3D modeling, painting in VR, sewing masks, and more.
How We Did It
The NCSU Libraries Twitch channel was launched in the Fall 2020 as a way to continue to engage with the Libraries experiential learning spaces during the COVID-19 pandemic. The seismic shift of services to online delivery formats during this time revealed a gap in the way the Libraries is able to casually reach students through pop-up events in the lobbies, programming in the Fishbowl Forum, or consultant hours in hands-on learning spaces like the Digital Media Lab, Makerspace, and VR Studio. This project explores how we can extend our experiential learning to better reach online and hybrid classes through platforms that are designed to broadcast one-to-many online.
Online platforms, such as Twitch (an interactive live broadcasting service), allow for multiple levels of interactions: screen sharing, camera capture, and accompanying chatroom. Unlike video conferencing tools like Zoom, Twitch and similar sites allow for quick drop-ins and casual interactions that create spaces for informal community engagement. This kind of streaming allows for lower production values and more informal speech so that students can be themselves in a less mediated space.
Twitch and similar platforms enable easy capture of content for live captioning and reuse as instruction or promotional material. The streams are open to anyone with access to an internet browser, regardless of device, and commenters choose their own username, allowing students to maintain a layer of anonymity. Every stream is moderated by Libraries staff who have the power to block any inappropriate content in the chat room and also to answer questions and engage with viewers while the streamer is occupied on-screen.
Our Fall 2020 pilot included live streamed drop-in hours for the Makerspace and VR Studio, which featured student workers who demonstrated equipment and skills from those spaces while being available for questions. We also piloted a series of guest streams from Library staff in several departments offering a range of topics on streams.