Professional Development Opinion

5 Ways to Use Meerkat in Education

By Starr Sackstein — March 29, 2015 3 min read
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Connecting classrooms has never been easier. As technology continues to improve, so do the many ways to learn from each other on all levels in any educational system.

Recently, I’ve learned about Meerkat app, a live streaming app that works on Twitter. As I played with it in class for the first time, I was imagining the best ways to use technology like this for education.

It’s really easy to use. Just download the app and sync it with your Twitter account. Then you either schedule a stream time or start streaming now. Put in a topic that the stream is about and hit play. Your phone is then transformed into a live stream and everything is happening on Twitter simultaneously.

Imagine these possibilities:

  1. Live classroom sharing through the stream. Classes can now share discussions globally on Twitter, while other classes watch. Questions or commentary can be tweeted during the feed that would add depth to any class dynamic. What a great way to deepen an understanding of a text by adding multiple perspectives and a great way to collaborate with different people at the same time.
  2. Sent up a mentor classroom. For pre-service or new teachers, set up a live stream in a master teacher’s classroom. Allow newbies to watch masters in action, make commentary or reverse it and use it to trouble shoot issues in the new person’s classroom. Perhaps a new teacher is struggling with classroom management, but his/her mentor can’t make it to the class, why not live stream to get better, real time fee
    dback? This kind of access can really help pinpoint challenges and develop strategies to improve.
  3. Archives of class streams can be generated on the user’s phone to review feedback later. Perhaps a group would like to live stream to practice or rehearse for a performance of some kind or a presentation.This is a great way to get real feedback before the big day. I envision my seniors practicing their exit portfolio presentations with people from all over the world, eliciting commentary and questions to help them perform better. There’s nothing like a live audience to up the ante and now a student can do it on his/her own allowing for more high stakes run throughs.
  4. Want to connect the community to school happenings? Now you can. If a parent can’t attend a school event, the teacher or school administrator can stream it and then the parent can watch from work or wherever they can’t get away from. Parents will be able to write congratulatory notes and send feedback as they watch. They can even share the feed on Twitter with other family members around the country or the world. We can bring these important moments to families. Image how many more people will be able to participate in graduations or stepping up ceremonies if there isn’t enough room.
  5. This can be a great staff development tool. Imagine offering district wide professional learning when teachers or speakers come to one place and offer great opportunities, but not all can attend or make it to that location. With scheduled streams, teachers can participate in workshops remotely on Twitter while watching the feed and participating in a Twitter chat. Hashtags can be used to help archive tweets later in a Storify or the stream can be downloaded to a phone and shared district wide in an archive.

Trying new technology can often be overwhelming or scary, but it doesn’t have to be. Trying out new apps to see what works in your particular school community and finding the just-right tools, can improve so many different facets of the learning environment. Meerkat is just another great possibility.

What needs can you see Meerkat filling in your school community? Please share.

*The same day I wrote this piece about Meerkat App, Twitter released Periscope, their version of the live streaming in the app. As far as I can tell right now they are very similar, but I’d love to hear which you like better.

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