We deliver many online courses, both open and private. In these courses, we have always thought that synchronous activities add value to the course. We cannot overuse them, because one of the points of making it online is that it needs to be flexible and convenient for the learners. However, a few timed events in a course can be beneficial. Each event is an opportunity to show that there are real people behind the website, following the progress of the learners. Also, it is a great opportunity for learners to get together in real-time.
The challenge comes when we need to find a tool that meets several requirements. Firstly, everyone should be able to use it easily. Secondly, it needs to be free of charge. Thirdly, it must be easy to set up. Finally, it must provide reasonable AV quality. For this, we tried broadcasting over YouTube with a Zoom Camera, a boundary microphone, and Wirecast Play.
Wirecast Play is a piece of software which is free in its trial version. (The only catch is a watermark in a corner of the screen). Wirecast Play allows you to broadcast in YouTube. It provides a control room in which you can input webcams and microphones. A Zoom camera is an inexpensive video camera with webcam settings options, and Wirecast recognises it quickly and easily.
The result is live streaming on YouTube with reasonable AV quality in which learners can comment in the YouTube chatbox. We have used it several times. After a few mistakes and adjustments, we are now able to set up a live recording studio with quite cheap gear, in not much time, and with not too many skills required. In short, it does the job.