If you’re finding this whole remote learning picture a little fuzzy, you are not alone. It’s clear that there are technology obstacles for just about everyone. It’s also clear that video, while not the panacea in and of itself, represents the digital channel to invest your resources in to ramp up connections to your school community – during times of crisis or otherwise. Cue your school Youtube channel.
Up until 2 months ago, most parents hadn't even heard of Zoom, much less depended on it as a lifeline to their child's school. But video can and should go well beyond classroom instruction and teleconferencing. Youtube is the natural solution. It's part of our communications fabric.
Imagine a dedicated Youtube channel where you could connect at the district, school or classroom level. Beyond serving as the primary conduit for connecting student to classroom, your very own school Youtube channel can establish your video foundation for engaging parents, staff and any stakeholder in your school.
Survey says: it's time for video
Campus Suite recently surveyed over 125 schools and what’s clear is that most school administrators, teachers and parents are currently seeking more effective ways to communicate, and video – be it for learning or other school communications – is an engaging, efficient method.
As more and more schools launch the standard social media plays: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, Youtube is gaining traction as the natural way to tell your school stories in what's perhaps everyone's favorite medium – short videos.
As Jake Sturgis points out in his Video Tips to Tell Your School Stories article, video is perhaps the most compelling way for your school stories to resonate with your audiences.
A Youtube channel provides almost unlimited live streaming and archived recording options. Zoom, Facebook Live, self-produced video and Youtube itself – whether streamed live or recorded – are all great sources of video content that can be organized and shared readily from your Youtube channel.
Follow these four simple steps, and you'll have your school Youtube channel up and running in no time.
1. Set up your school Youtube channel
Setting up a channel for you school on Youtube is insanely easy. Simply go to the www.youtube.com/create channel and a series of prompts will walk you through the process.
There is one important note to consider during the setup process. You’ll need a Google account to setup your Youtube channel. Don’t use your personal account if you have one. Set up a dedicated account for your school. By establishing a new account, you can control who has access to posting videos.
Also, in the final step of creating the channel, you’ll be asked which activities you want to allow on your channel. The options are:
- Like a video
- Comment on a video
- Favorite a video
- Subscribe to a channel
All of these options are designed to promote engagement, so it’s wise to check all of them. You do have the option of not allowing comments, but I suggest you allow them, for the purpose of all this is to promote engagement. Comments can always be moderated.
Also, you have the choice of making your Youtube channel public, private or unlisted. I suggest schools choose the public option because that is best for search-ability and the easiest to manage. Noah Geisel, editor at Verses Education, recommends setting up your channel as unlisted. An unlisted setting makes your channel accessible via a direct link, so you have to share the link but your content would not be searchable. With an unlisted channel, permission to subscribe is not required, as is the case with a private channel.
2. Set production standards for school Youtube videos
Once you have your channel set up, you’re ready to start making videos.
Of course, that may sound easier said than done. After all, you’re not a film maker. Maybe you struggle with a selfie, let alone filming a decent-looking video. Don’t worry. It’s not as hard as you think. In fact, many teachers, administrators, and students find that making the video is actually a lot of fun.
You want to establish some standards for production quality, but at the same time, you don't want to discourage contributions. Here are a few tips to get you started on Youtube video production.
Most smartphones are capable of producing good video. You don’t need an expensive camera system to shoot your own videos. Smartphones have advanced to the point that they’re fully capable of capturing high-quality video.
It’s more important that you shoot a wide frame in landscape mode and that you get plenty of lighting. If you do those two things, you’ll be off to a good start.
Get close enough for good sound quality. While cell phones may capture quality video, the same can’t always be said for sound. You may be surprised when you start shooting to see that the sound just didn’t come through the way you would have hoped.
Always make sure you’re close enough to the action to get good sound. You may find that you need an additional microphone. A quick search online should yield plenty of quality microphones that you can simply plug in to your smartphone.
Use Youtube editor. Youtube wants people watching videos, which means they want your videos to be high quality. To help you with that, they’ve created Youtube editor, a powerful tool for giving your videos the kind of presentation that you used to only be able to get from a professional. You can add cuts, transitions, music, captions, and much, much more. Best of all….it’s free! The editor is available to access when you upload your video.
3. Build your school’s Youtube production crew
One of the ways to keep the video content coming is to encourage contributors. You don’t have to do it all yourself. You can recruit students, teachers, staff members, and even parents to help. In fact, it should be a group effort.
Involving students as associate producers could be one of the best moves you could make as studio mogul for your school. Hand pick some of the more talented students to lend a hand in producing and vetting the videos made by others.
Also, no one expects you to be Steven Spielberg. You don’t have to make professional-quality videos. Authenticity continues to be the mantra when it comes to self-produced videos.
4. Don't let your channel gather dust
When you have a Youtube channel, it’s critical that you post new video content on a regular basis. You don’t want a prospective student or parent looking at your Youtube page and seeing that you haven’t posted a video in a year or more. If you’re not going to post videos, you’re almost better off not even having a channel.
Get the full Youtube picture for your school
See how some schools are embracing Youtube to deliver their messages, then check out some of the kinds of school video topics – including award-winning content – you can be using to tell your school’s stories.
Related articles and content:
How to Go Live with Live Streaming School Video
Tips for Zoom Classroom Management and Etiquette
How to Use Facebook Live at School
Video Tips to Tell Your School Stories
Campus Suite Remote Learning Resources
Marketing director and content strategist for Campus Suite, Jay’s a former school public relations specialist who’s helped businesses, schools and colleges use the power of web communications to improve their image, generate support, and optimize relationships. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.