Why and how to adopt video streaming in education software
The rise of video streaming has been an evident trend even before the COVID-19 pandemic. The latter, however, gave it an enormous boost. The size of the global video live streaming solution market in 2020 was estimated at more than $3 bn. It is expected to reach almost $5 bn by 2026.
COVID-19 affected all industries, and education was no exception. Millions of students had to shift their studies from offline to online mode as teachers got accustomed to addressing cameras rather than live audiences.
The importance of live streaming for education became pronounced. Many businesses and institutions struggle with the question of how to implement video streaming into the education system.
In this article, we will discuss the benefits of video streaming for edtech products in more detail. You will learn how to build education software equipped with such a feature and what challenges you may face. The article is based on Menklab’s experience with the Nurture app.
Reasons to adopt video streaming in education
There are many benefits of live streaming for classrooms. One came into focus in the recent year, namely providing access to education in the face of natural disasters. Streaming allows teachers to connect with their students, dispersed in many different locations.
Virtual learning can be more convenient and effective even under usual circumstances. Students can ‘attend’ lessons with the help of new technologies without moving far from their homes. Also, some of them can focus better without the distraction of others.
“Incorporating video into the classroom and allowing students to take remote classes now means that universities can have a wider and more continuous reach with students from other geographic locations. What will be important is ensuring connection and collaboration between students for group exchanges, tutoring, and workshops,” says Gilles Bertaux, CEO and co-founder of Livestorm.
On top of it, using live streaming for education, teachers can employ new methodology. For instance, students can watch the experts in their fields solve problems in real-time. That may be more effective and engaging than just listening to the teacher’s explanation of how it is done.
The efficacy of pre-recorded video for education purposes has already been confirmed scientifically. In one of the recent studies, the data from 7,776 students were analyzed to check the effects of videos on learning compared to other mediums.
“Overall, when students got videos instead of the usual forms of teaching, the average grade increased from a B to a B+. When they got videos in addition to their existing classes, the effect was even stronger, moving students from a B to an A,” said lead study author Dr. Michael Noetel, a senior lecturer at the Australian Catholic University.
Live streaming can also lower the cost of education. Maintaining a building with numerous classrooms and auxiliary facilities can be expensive. With video streaming, the main things educators should worry about are monthly Internet and electricity costs. Thus, students get more affordable education while businesses lower their expenses. Experts can easily monetize their skills, setting up an educational course with live streaming.
Another upside of implementing streaming in the education system is saving time and energy for all involved parties. In-person lectures often require the commute and, sometimes, looking for parking on campus. Just turning your PC and camera on in the comfort of your home is much easier.
How to implement live streaming in the education software: guide and technology stack
While using live streams seems easy, building this technology in your software may not be a piece of cake. The exact plan depends on the situation.
For instance, you may want to integrate a video streaming solution into existing white-label software or build a custom product from scratch. We’ve listed some important steps you will have to make below. Also, we’ve compiled a list of tools, which may come in handy.
Build your team
An in-house development team may seem an ideal choice if you want to build and maintain your edtech solution for a long time. However, it comes with a high cost and may require a long time to build. Finding a reliable tech partner will save you both money and the trouble of managing the development operations. In this case, you can leave the tech questions to the professionals, focusing on business development.
Find a Reliable Hosting
Any software with live streaming options depends on high data transfer speed. That’s why the quality of your hosting is of utmost importance. As the number of users grows, the cost of any downtime will skyrocket. Make sure that you use a strong server infrastructure, supporting high-quality video delivery. You may opt for a ready-made cloud solution like Amazon S3.
Choose a CDN
Using CDN, or Content Delivery Network, is one more way to ensure flawless audio and video delivery. With its help, the data is transferred to your users via the network of servers and their data centers. The closest servers to your users are chosen, ensuring high performance. Also, CDN makes scaling much easier. You will have to pay extra for this option, but it is worth its money.
Pay attention to storage
If you plan to make video recordings available afterward, you should have enough capacity to store them. Cloud services are probably the best option. You save yourself the trouble of maintaining your own data centers. At the same time, such services are quite affordable and allow you to scale easily.
Decide on the list of features
There are a lot of features you can use in an education live streaming solution. Here are some useful options:
Video-on-demand (VOD) capabilities. Think beyond the stream. Many teachers might want to record their live sessions. Thus, the students would be able to watch them again and revise the material.
Monitoring and analytics. Educators would benefit from the analysis of viewer numbers and engagement. For instance, it’s helpful to know how many students stayed on the stream till the end. Knowing when some of them left will help to understand which parts of the lecture may be less engaging. This information will help to tailor future lecture plans.
Integration with other apps. For instance, integration with Zoom gives users access to peer-to-peer streaming. Also, it opens up the possibility of dialogue with learners.
Privacy and security capabilities. Educators should have a choice whether to make their streams public or restrict access to specific students.
If you create your first e-learning app, you might be tempted to build a sophisticated product. However, it’s better to start small. First, create an app with some basic features — an MVP version — and see how it goes.
Create simple but functional UI/UX design
The user interface should be intuitive, so both teachers and students will get accustomed to your software in no time. Access to all important features has to be clearly visible. You may start with analyzing the UI of your competitors or popular live-streaming solutions. Employ high-skilled UI/UX designers or a software development company offering turnkey services to get the best result.
Test your solution vigorously
All the benefits of online learning depend on the single fact that the software used is reliable. Both educators and learners should be absolutely sure that they can rely on your solution. Double-check and test everything to ensure you will come up to their expectations. Live streaming solutions are pretty common, and users tend to have high standards. The e-learning market is booming, and you don’t want competitors using your bugs and glitches to their advantage.
The list of technologies you may use to create a solution with live streaming capabilities may include.
GoLang, Swift, Kotlin
CloudFlare /Amazon CloudFront
AWS Instances, etc.
Media processing platform
DaCast, Wowza or custom developed platform
PostgreSQL, DynamoDb, MySQL
Let’s dwell on some of them to understand their role. Media processing platforms convert video and audio to formats compatible with users’ devices.
For instance, Wowza serves to encode video, optimize video bitrates, etc. DaCast is a platform for broadcasting and hosting. It provides APIs and SDKs (software development kits) to integrate all its features into your solution. DaCast also offers its own CDN — Akamai. Note, however, this platform can be slow from time to time.
RTMP (Real-Time Messaging Protocol) and WebRTC (Web Real-time Communications) are the leaders among streaming protocols. RTMP allows the transfer of audio and video between a Flash player and a server. WebRTC is used for data exchange between two different browsers.
Menklab’s team has implemented multi-bitrate HLS transcoded live video streams in our projects. Multi-bitrate streaming (MBR) streaming offers viewers more control over the quality of the video. It helps to use fewer resources on the source and destination. HLS, a protocol for media files segmentation, enables media players to play parts of the video with the highest resolution supported by the network at the time.
Challenges of adopting live streaming in education software
Building video streaming in your edtech solution may be trickier than it seems:
The main challenge is to make streaming as smooth as possible. Freezing videos may be very annoying for users. Make sure your platform has enough resources and uses state-of-the-art technologies.
Live streaming can be more complex than just allowing students to watch the professor lecturing. For instance, Menklab developed a software solution for preschool institutions, allowing parents to watch live footage of their children.
The difficulty with this feature was that a child might move around the premises during the day. Finding the stream from one of many cameras manually would be too time-consuming for the parents. Thus, before the streaming begins, our software finds the specific child with the help of face-recognition technologies and activates the feed from the right camera.
Why partner with Menklab to develop live streaming technology for educational software?
Our company has been in the software development market since 2013. During these years, we’ve completed many projects for clients from various industries, including education. One of our top projects in this sphere, Nurture, includes live streaming, among its features. Let’s talk about it in more detail.
Nurture is a preschool communication and management platform for teachers and parents. It was designed to keep parents informed about their children and partly automate administrative tasks, minimizing the possibility of human error. This next-generation platform includes a web application as well as mobile apps for Android and iOS. At present, it is used in more than 30 countries.
The information about each child (mood, behavior, curriculum, etc.) is compiled on their personal page. Teachers and caregivers can take photos and videos of their pupils, sharing them with parents. Moreover, the latter can watch live streams of their child. The cloud-based hosting solution we employ is highly scalable. An average customer has 30+ locations with 20 live cameras in each and 100 parents viewing any number of cameras simultaneously.
Let’s make education more accessible with live streaming
The importance of video streaming technology for educational software can hardly be overestimated. Virtual classrooms connect educators and learners from all over the globe. Education becomes cheaper and less time-consuming as moving to other areas, or commuting is no longer compulsory. More and more people want to learn wherever and whenever they like without paying large fees. Thus, the market for e-learning software equipped with video streaming will continue to boom in the future.
Creating a software solution with a reliable and easy-to-use live-streaming feature is a complex task. You will surely benefit from the involvement of a skillful and experienced software development team. If you have such a project in mind, Menklab can lend you a helping hand. We are armed with state-of-the-art technologies, and we love challenging tasks. Contact us, let’s build your new revolutionary software for education together!