Periscope, Twitter's live video streaming app, is taking the education world by storm.  Since its debut in early 2015, teachers and administrators are trying to figure out how to use Periscope for education and not just as a way for students to stream silly human tricks on live video to their friends.

Before we can get into how to use Periscope for education, let's first define what exactly Periscope is and how you use it for those of you that are clueless for now.

An Introduction to Periscope

Periscope is a live video streaming app that Twitter purchased before Periscope launched to the public. That fact alone should make you stand up and take notice about how important a company like Twitter thinks that live streaming video really is in today's social media landscape.

As such, those of us in education should probably take notice and figure out how we can use this app to our advantage.

The great thing about Periscope is that it integrates directly with your Twitter account.  Your Periscope name is your Twitter handle. Once you download the Periscope app from either iTunes or Google Play, you can set up your account and find some people to follow.

On the home screen, you can see all streams from people you follow. If anyone is streaming live, that stream will be at the top.  The list at the bottom are streams that recently completed. These streams are all from people who you follow on Periscope.

Note: You do not automatically follow all your Twitter friends that are on Periscope. You can follow who you like.

You can view videos on Periscope in two ways. The first is, of course, live while the stream is happening. When you start recording, Periscope can automatically send out a tweet (you have to turn this feature on) with the #periscope hashtag embedded in the tweet. Here's an example from a recent broadcast of mine:

Anyone following you on Twitter can then click on the link in the tweet (yes, Periscope automatically inserts the link) and can watch the stream.

The second way to watch Periscope streams is the replay. People can click on the link in your tweet and view the stream once it has finished. HOWEVER, the replay is only available for 24 hours, so be aware.

Once you finish your stream, you can save the video to your phone. I HIGHLY recommend you use this feature to archive your videos. Once you have it saved, you can upload it to Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, or whatever storage option you prefer.

There is currently no limit on the length of your Periscope stream. As long as you are connected and have battery, you can broadcast. Be aware that the longer your stream, the bigger the video file you will be creating to store on your phone.

How to Use Periscope for Education

I'm going to split this section in parts to cast as wide of a net as possible since there are privacy issues we have to think about as educators. First, I'll talk about some ways to protect student privacy for those of you that have students under 13 or just want to keep things private.

Second, I'll give you some ideas that I have along with ideas from others about how exactly you can use Periscope in your class or even in your professional development.

Of course, at all times, let's keep in mind that Periscope is a social network and that we should model and teach great social media usage for our students. As with any social media tool, Periscope can be a great addition to your classroom, or it can be a HUGE detriment and headache. Use wisely as you would any other tech tool.

How to Keep Periscope Private for Students

Privacy is a huge issue in education, especially for younger students. Thankfully, there are some great privacy features in Periscope that you can take advantage of to protect your students.

  • Turn location sharing on/off. If you don't want your exact location to be added to the Periscope app when you begin broadcasting, you can just turn location sharing off.
  • Turn Twitter on/off. You can turn off the option to send out a tweet when you begin broadcasting. By doing so, you can limit the number of people who know you are broadcasting to those that follow you on Periscope, not Twitter.
  • Make chat only available to your Periscope followers. By default, people that are watching your stream can send you messages. You can turn on a feature that allows only those that are following you to send you messages during a stream.
  • Make your stream available only to select users. This is the most private option available. You can choose the Periscope users you want to have access to your stream. This is a great option when you want to involve students but only want people like parents and administration or other teachers in your building to have access.

Of course, always be mindful of students in your class that cannot be videotaped/photographed.

Now that we've gotten through some of the housekeeping notes for using Periscope, here are some ideas that you can use in your classroom to make this tool an invaluable part of your classroom and teaching career.

Periscope in the Classroom

Here are some ideas that I had plus some others that I thought were great from this Google Doc created by the folks behind PeriscopeEDU (you should probably check them out on Twitter).

  • Create a student “update” style news broadcast. This can be daily, weekly, whatever. Have your students create “news bulletins” for your class that discuss any upcoming events for your classroom. Or have them create news headlines that deal with your classroom topics.
  • Shark Tank style pitches. This comes from @MrsGest. I LOVE THIS IDEA! You can assemble a group of people to watch these “pitches” done by your students and have them comment and ask questions as your students present. What a great way to have your students present to an authentic audience, show their mastery of content, and work on public speaking skills. BOOM!
  • Connect with content-area experts and interact with students. If you find an expert on Periscope that you would like to conduct a session with your students, contact them and work out the details. This can fall under the #MysterySkype category where you would have a special guest speaker for your class but use Periscope rather than the ol' Skype.
  • Stream live news events for your students. This one is simple to do. If you see breaking news that is relevant to your class, interrupt whatever you are doing and start watching the stream with your students. Come up with discussion questions on the fly for your students. Have your students come up with questions for the broadcaster and have them ask or use your class account to ask the questions.

As I come up with or find more great ideas for using Periscope in class, I'll add them here. If you have some of your own, tweet me @mikepaul and send them my way, I'd appreciate it!

Periscope for Teachers

Here are some ideas for using Periscope as a teacher, whether it be in a professional development scenario or to use as an extension to your classroom.

  • Broadcast a weekly wrap-up for your classes. To increase parent engagement, hold a live wrap-up event on Friday afternoons and simply recap what happened during the week in your room. Parents can watch live, watch the replay, or you can upload the recap to YouTube and place on your class site.
  • Conduct virtual office hours for your students. This idea comes from @joe_mazza and is a great idea. Every so often, perhaps when you are covering a particularly in-depth topic in class, start a live broadcast that your students can watch and ask you questions live outside the school day. The nice part about this is that you can hold your “office hours” anywhere you like as long as you have a connection. Remember to archive the video and upload to YouTube and archive on your class site for others that couldn't make it live.
  • Broadcast conference sessions. This is huge for your PLN. If you are at a conference, start a broadcast while you are there so that absent PLN members can see what you are learning. Save the broadcast, upload, and place on your teacher site to share with a wider audience.
  • Check in with students when you are out for the day. Now, depending upon the reason for your absence, you may not use this one. But, how cool would it be that if you're at a conference, you coordinate with your sub and have your students watch your live broadcast while you're at a conference? Show them some of the cool things you are learning and that you will be using in class with them and you will build their excitement and likely improve behavior while you're out.

Again, this is not an exhaustive list of applications for Periscope for teachers. As I see more, I will add them here and if you have any you'd like to send, hit me up on Twitter @mikepaul.

Pro Tips for Your Periscope Broadcast

  • Keep your broadcasts in Portrait mode. In September 2o15, Periscope introduced an update to their app that would allow video broadcasts in landscape, or widescreen, format. However, if you save the video to your camera roll on your phone, it's still in portrait mode. So it's sideways. As much as I hate to say it, keep your Periscope videos in portrait mode.
  • Make sure you use hashtags when type in the message for your stream. Periscope will insert the #periscope tag automatically but you should add any pertinent hashtags yourself. Use a class or school specific hashtag for your followers. If you want to reach a wider audience, choose topic hashtags to reach as many as possible.
  • Respond to comments users send you. Whether you as the educator are running the stream or one of your older students, you should encourage live interaction with the audience. If they are asking questions, answer them! Even if you are asking the questions to your students, you are encouraging their public speaking skills without them even knowing it.
  • Make sure you use a tripod or some other type of mount to hold your device while streaming. There is nothing any more aggravating to a video viewer than shaky video. Also, if you are taking questions, you can write them down as they come if you mount your device.
  • Save your broadcasts to your phone. Don't let great content die. Reuse it somewhere else. Even if you're using the awesome #katch service, keep control of your videos. Save them and at least upload them to your YouTube channel.
  • Use a lapel microphone. Really, use any microphone other than the one that is built into your phone. I use this Rode model because it plugs directly into the headphone jack of my phone. However, there are several other models that you can use just as easily. It's amazing how by simply improving the audio quality of your scopes how much the overall quality is improved.

The Ultimate List of Periscope Educators

If you are using Periscope in your school, please tweet me or contact me and I will add you to this list. Right now, I will keep the list live here on the site. If it becomes the behemoth that I think it will, I will shift to a Google Sheet embedded here for everyone to see.







What Will You Do With Periscope?

I'm excited to see what educators around the world will do with Periscope in their classrooms.  If you're doing something great and can show it off to the world, make sure you do! The more great ideas we have out there, the better we all become.

If you want to get more tips like this on how to use technology in your classroom, make sure you sign up for my email newsletter (you can just fill out the form at the top of this page!).