The Onsite Audience
Our roots were established 2 years ago when we were asked to display a “backchannel” underneath a live online video broadcast for a client who delivered lectures to groups of “connected” students.
The lectures were designed to encourage interactivity and participation in a range of ways, supplemented with a number of practical exercises. Most students turned up to the lecture with a laptop and connected to the net ready to engage with both the lecturer, the material and one another.
At the time there were a number of solutions in the market that allowed users to send an SMS to an interface which was displayed on a large screen for the audience to view – a “backchannel”. This was proving to be quite an interesting channel for feedback to the lecturer who would regularly pull nuggets of inspiration from the contributions.
The tool also encouraged a huge amount of dialogue between members of the audience who shared tips, tricks and other advice with one another.
There was also twitter which was further enhancing the dialogue and exchange between audience members and a wider online community. Adoption was still in a relatively early stage and only a sub-section of the audience were familiar with it.
Both however served as a valuable interactive and social channel which undoubtedly enhanced the learning experience. The experience was genuinely immersive and hugely engaging for all those involved relative to a standard “instructional” lecture.
The remote audience
Members of the remote audience could view live video (we’d been doing this for 4 years prior) but they could not easily engage and participate in this social component of the lecture.
Twitter could be used but this was restricted to a limited group of users and the experience involved juggling multiple browser windows – the user experience was limited and somewhat detached.
Furthermore, it was difficult for the lecturer to easily engage directly with this remote audience. There was no way to determine whether a “tweet” was from someone physically present at the lecture or they were tuning in remotely viewing the live video broadcast.
The blended audience
There was nothing on the market that brought everything together in one application that would cater intelligently for both the physically present audience and the remote audience – what is now often referred to as the blended audience.
There was nothing which combined live video broadcasting with a social component that was designed specifically for an immersive dynamic learning experience, consistently at a single online destination.
There was nothing intuitive and easy to use for both the lecturer (and his support team) and this blended audience that would capture all the real time social dialogue amongst peers; the distribution of teaching materials and an invaluable feedback loop between the audience and the lecturer.
Consequently, we started to build the Wavecast platform.