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I Ustreamed your Ustream: Tha's a twitter of an idea!
Saturday, December 15, 2007
TravelinEdMan has not done any international traveling the past six months but I have been to DC a few times and to Atlanta and Milwaukee for conferences. When I was presenting at the Georgia Educational Technology Conference last month in Atlanta (see something unusual happened which I finally have time to reflect on below. First, I must point out that this conference asked me to do 4 invited 1 hour talks back to back to back to back on Wednesday afternoon November 14th. That was tiring to say the least. Keep in mind that I flew to Atlanta and back to Indianapolis the same day (Yes, the SAME DAY--I am stupid and insane at times) and this was after presenting a few times in Washington DC on Monday November 12th and flying home on Tuesday. It was quite a crazy week. And somehow I was able to teach my Minday and Tuesday night classes at IU that week (Monday using videoconferencing from DC).

When I got home from DC on Tuesday, I was plain old out of gas. AND, I still had the 4 talks in Atlanta to prepare for (I was about 60-70 percent done). Needless to say, Atlanta was a grueling experience. By the time I got to my final talk in Atlanta, I was pretty beat. And, compared to all my other talks that week, this crowd was the smallest one. I was attempting to synthesize across the 3 one hour talks I did earlier in the afternoon in just 1 hour (a "Best of Bonk" type of talk). Relatively small crowd, tired, feet sore from wearing new shoes, voice going, etc. I think I had a 15 minute break to catch my breath.

Guess what? Vicky Davis (alias Cool Cat Teacher; see decides to sit near the front and ask if she could use her Webcam and Ustream it (in addition, she was also going to Twitter it and blog on it). Oh no, I said to myself. I am not ready for this. So, I said to Vicky, "What is Ustream?" Well, she replied, it is fabulous--you can can let others watch a presentation who might not be able to attend. I then said something like, "sure, go for it." Now keep in mind that I was extremely tired at this point. But knowing that I was going to be Ustreamed to the world, it perked me back up and I was glad that it did. Soon people around the world who got Vicky's announcement in Twitter or Blogger were logging in. Amazingly, my friend, Dr. Bernie Dodge at San Diego State University was saying hello and asking questions. When I heard that Bernie was online it was like a shot of adrenalene. I reached back and found some previously unused reserve energy and gave it my best shot.

I also found out that one of the students in my program back at IU, Jennifer Maddrell, got wind of it while attending a conference in New York City and sent a message for me to Vicky as well. After the event, Jennifer sent me an email titled, "You Ustreamer!" Then she said, "I was ustreaming from a conference in New York, when I saw a tweet from Vicki Davis in Twitter that she was ustreaming YOU! So, at my conference we ustreamed us watching your ustream. Cool ..." Now, how cool is that? One of my students watching me present on a topic she was interested in, but not during a class at IU, but, instead, from a conference talk of mine and she was in session at a different conference from the one in which I was presenting. (I should point out that Jennifer is one of our distance students so she is rarely found live in Bloomington, Indiana anyway.)

I was worried that I looked terrible at that point in the day, but Jennifer assured me that I did not. Whew! But what is Ustream you ask? Well, Jennifer informed me that Ustream (see "is a free 3rd party host for live streaming video and audio. Think Breeze, but Web 2.0 style. They offer a chat room and will host the video after you are done streaming so you can create your own "channel." All you need to do is sign up for free, hook up any old webcam, and you are off to the races!" Ok, this surely sounded wonderful, so I have been checking it out since then.

But now what is possible when people Ustream a Ustream and bring their friends to the e-party with Twitter, Blogger, Facebook Groups, and the rest of their online suite of tools? What is now possible educationally? What learning might happen? As per usual, here are ten ideas off the top of my head:

1. Conference to Conference Connections: As Jennifer did, now one can send a plenary or keynote speaker (or anyone of interest) from a conference to another conference. If a conference was too poor to bring someone in or if a person was unable to be at 2 conferences at the same time, someone might be sent to where the person decides to keynote and then Ustream him or her to the other conference. This could be done with permissions of all interested parties or perhaps more sneakily. You must determine what ethically works for you.

2. Conference to World Connections: You can now Ustream someone of interest at a conference to the world. Is there any legal liability you ask? Get permission from the speaker for one. I am no attorney nor do I claim to be. When I was an unhappy CPA/accountant, I almost turned to the dark side, but held off. When in doubt, ASK!

3. Ustream Podcast Shows: Now activities like EdTechTalk (see at World Bridges are using Ustream to add video to their audio broadcasts. Consequently, you can meet and hear people for free online.

4. Ustream Instructors: You can create educational channels in Ustream for others to watch (just like in YouTube, Splashcast, TeacherTube, etc.). Might someone create a video bank of best educational videos someday and repackage them? Is there a list of best 100 online instructors?

5. Ustream to Ustream to Ustream: Might popular Ustreamers in the field of education band together and syndicate some of the best shows or performances that they anticipate? What if there was a once-in-a-lifetime performance from someone famous in a discipline? What if someone well known was giving a last lecture before retiring or changing fields? These can now be Ustreamed by someone in the audience for anyone in the world to see.

6. Student Ustream Competitions: You might ask students to find and rank the top 2-3 educational Ustreamed sites on a particular topic or content area and then have the class vote on them. The person who selected the one with the top votes might get bonus points. He or she might also introduce that video (or set of videos) to the class. (Now you might have a problem with this as some of the content is not educational; then, perhaps do the same at TeacherTube or some other educational portal or channel of videos).

7. Student Ustream Creations: Ask students to create a channel in Ustream as a class project. They might be the presenters, filmers, or both.

8. "Live Ed": During the 1980s and 1990s in the USA, there were Farm Aid and Live Aid concerts to help farmers keep their farms or to provide food for those in third world countries that needed it--some of these concerts appeared for a day or two on TV and eventually into the Internet. Since that time, there have been been online days for various things like International Internet Day, International Earth Day, Live Earth day, etc. Well, what about Live Ed? Perhaps with tools like Ustream, people from around the planet could be sharing educational content of the best of best thinkers and ideas around the clock; perhaps starting with someone in New Zealand and then Australia and then Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, and China and then Russia and India and so on working westward around the planet. You could hear from different people maybe on the theme for that day or on different themes that intersect. Perhaps pose a key question related to educational change or reform and let people in different countries and regions of the world attempt to answer it in a celebrated experience of everyone on this planet. That is quite ambitious I know! perhaps on a smaller scale, what about conference event for the world to participate in. For instance, in my own field, I realize that no one can attend all the conferences on e-learning or educational technology, but with Ustream, one might be able to gleem some of the best ideas and meet some of the biggest stars. It is worth a thought. Ok, who will start "Live Ed?"

9. Ustream the Ustreamers!: Have students interview someone with a Ustream channel or a popular show. These interviews might even be Ustreamed! I think that would be unique. Ustreams of ustreamers (akin to blogging on bloggers or doing podcasts on or with well known podcasters).

10. Side by Sides: What if 2 people giving similar talks at the same time at 2 different conference somewhere in the world were juxtaposed against each other? Wht might you look for? How might an instructor use this to pan back and forth between presenters? And what about speeches of politician being Ustreamed and compared during an election year? Or perhaps find 2 Ustreamed presentations on the same topic and compare and contrast them. (For higher level students perhaps in higher education, you might have the students find the video content.) You don't need Ustream for this--it is also possible with YouTube, TeacherTube, CNN videos, Google Videos, etc.

Those are just some ideas off the top of my head. I am sure that there are hundreds more and many that do not require Ustream and that were possible long before Ustream. And when you combine technologies such as adding Twitter notifications or a posting in a Facebook Group or in MySpace or within one's blog, the experience is appropriately amplified and extended. I think for a while the notion of someone "Ustreaming my Ustream" will be unique enough to motivate me when speaking on an empty tank! Try it!

As I said at the start, I have not done much international travel lately. Note that TravelinEdMan was in Thailand a year ago for my birthday (December the 16th) and to keynote an e-learning conference (I was in Taiwan the previous week last year). To celebrate it this year, TravelinEdman (me) will be in St. Louis tomorrow/Sunday to see the Green Bay Packers play (beat we hope) the St. Louis Rams in a dome stadium. Hope the snow and ice hold off as I got some tickets on eBay I need to use!
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  posted by Curt Bonk @ 4:47 PM  
  • At 7:52 PM, Blogger jmaddrell said…

    Cool! I am in Bloomington today for my Graduation ... I should have ustreamed it :)

  • At 9:52 PM, Blogger Curt Bonk said…

    Yes, Jennifer, you should have. I am glad you are graduating! Enjoy this snowy weather!

  • At 8:29 AM, Blogger Vicki A. Davis said…

    These are great reflections! I have forwarded it to my feed.

    Also, the great thing about ustream is that it archives the video. You can see your presentation here. -

    Also, I am very wary of using live ustream with my students because it is LIVE and doesn't allow you to edit. There is a new service called mogulus that I'm beta testing that allows some editing and filtering that may be more well suited for the situtations where live is a little to "real."

    Thank you again for having the trust to allow me to try something new in your presentation. Surely that is the sort of innovative attitude that has created such great students as Jennifer! Thank you again!

  • At 6:53 PM, Blogger Curt Bonk said…

    Cool Vicky. Thanks for the link. I do think educational filters for such videos or portals to educationally appropriate videos will be helpful in the coming few years. Innovation and creativity plus filters/evaluation = effective and engaging education and more people willing to take risks to include in their curriculum.

  • At 1:42 PM, Blogger Willem Karssenberg said…

    What a great story!
    I just posted a message to my blog (in Dutch) to point my readers to the 10 Ustream possibilities you mention. Thanks for sharing. And of course thanks to Vicky as well for streaming the presentation.

  • At 11:00 AM, Blogger Curt Bonk said…

    Thanks William. Ya, it is kinda interesting! Imagaine the possibilities. I just got a new Sony all-in-one computer with HD TV and a Webcam, so I think I will be doing more video soon.

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Name: Curt Bonk
Home: Bloomington, Indiana, United States
About Me: I am a former accountant and CPA and a former educational psychologist. I am now Professor of IST at Indiana University and also adjunct in the School of Informatics. I founded and later sold SurveyShare. As president of CourseShare, LLC, I run around the world training instructors to teach online and give motivational talks about emerging learning technologies. I also write and edit books related to e-learning and blended learning. See bio and vita.

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