The following article was written as a first-hand account by Switchboard Marketing Intern Kira Sarsfield. It details a college student's journey relying on Live Streaming during the COVID19 pandemic.
It’s May 2021. The coronavirus pandemic has persisted in the United States for over a year, and I have been confined to the digital classroom since last spring.
Along with thousands of other college students, I sit and stare at my computer screen, vaguely paying attention to the last Zoom lecture I’ll (hopefully!) ever have to endure.
As I listen, I flashback to pre-pandemic times. Zoom was unheard of, and my college experience consisted of attending in-person classes, connecting with professors, and meeting my lifelong friends.
However, this changed quickly -- and Zoom has become the only way for me to hold online conversations with my professors and classmates.
But with my camera and audio off, I have never felt so disconnected from the essential aspects of a college education. Professor and student interactions feel so distant, because I’ve only seen my professors through a virtual 16:9 box on Zoom.
I longed for the feeling of real connectivity, with in-person engagement and instruction.
Feelings of loneliness and isolation were common, and attending online classes seemed like a chore -- rather than a privilege.
Despite the unfortunate circumstances, there’s always good that comes with the bad, right?
I would say so.
Adapting To Live Streaming
In the early stages of the pandemic, Penn State announced that our spring break was extended by three whole weeks!
From that point, the remote learning period went into full effect and students were expected to return to campus after this virtual three-week period.
Personally, I was stoked about this long spring break! It meant three more weeks of home cooked meals, family game nights, and cuddles with my dogs. Sounds perfect, right?
At first, yes.
However, this happy-go-lucky feeling quickly faded.
With no previous experience with live streaming, adapting to the remote classroom was no easy task. Zoom’s platform was challenging, and I struggled with staying engaged during class.
As a result of this, I embarrassed myself over Zoom more times than I’d like to admit. The microphone button became my worst enemy, and I accidentally broadcasted my outside conversations to classes of 500+ students.
Following the three-week extension, Penn State announced that their remote learning period would continue for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester.
The remote learning period persisted. And like any other college student, I was required to adapt to the circumstances.
To become more adjusted to Zoom’s platform, I would host Zoom nights with my college and hometown friends. We would teach other fun and new tricks that we learned in class, like how to change our video backgrounds and appearance effects!
Slowly but surely, I became a Zoom professional. I could operate the platform seamlessly, and I would even offer to help my professors with audio and video issues.
Along with mastering the live video platform, I also realized how lucky I was to continue my education through the pandemic.
My online classes were the only form of 'outside' interaction I had, and the simple things I once took for granted felt much bigger throughout the remote learning period.
When my professors would lighten our workloads and crack funny jokes, I felt lucky. I could forget about the craziness going on in the world around me, even if it was just for a second.
Going to my professors’ office hours was once something I dreaded, but I constantly took advantage of these opportunities during the pandemic. I built meaningful connections with my professors, and learned more about the communications field.
I will be forever thankful for those small things, because I learned more about myself in this period than an in-person classroom could ever teach.
In my search for new, creative internship opportunities for the spring semester, I was thrilled to earn the Switchboard Live marketing internship position!
I was stoked to work for a multistreaming company, because live streaming had become such an important part of my everyday life.
Through this internship, I had the opportunity to collaborate and work with Switchboard’s marketing and social media team. I learned how to operate social media calendars, interpret analytics, and interact with Switchboard’s loyal and fun users!
Rachel Grossinger, Switchboard’s marketing manager, and I worked very closely to conduct social media campaigns and research. She has become one of my biggest role models throughout this process, and I have been so lucky to learn from her expertise in the marketing field.
So…. Thank you Switchboard! I truly feel that I have become a part of the Switchboard family, and I am so thankful for the professional knowledge and personal growth that I have seen within myself throughout this internship.
TikTok's Brand New Livestream Features
First up in the news, TikTok Launches 8 New Features for Livestreams! Here's the list of their latest upgrades:
- Scheduling in advance
- Go live with a friend - called “Live together”
- Live Q&A
- Top Streams - making it easier to find and tune into live videos.
- Assign moderators
- Keyword filters - enabling creators to mute words of their choosing during a livestream. They can turn off comments or add up to 200 terms!
- Harmful comment alerts
These are some excellent offerings! And, as Alex points out, the keyword filters and harmful comment alerts in particular, give the content creators control over the experience, which is key. Plus, the top streams feature helps both the watcher and creator because it makes it easier for them to get found and also find what they want to watch.
Citizen App: Local Journalism, Hiring Tactics, and Instilling Fear
Then, we dive into an article that is a little bit different. It discusses Citizen, a social alert application that tells you what kind of crime is happening in your neighborhood. The idea is that these alerts/reports are coming from everyday people, everyday citizens. So, let’s say someone across the street witnesses a robbery taking place, they can catch it on video and share it, and alert others nearby.
The article is entitled Citizen Crime Live Streams are No Substitute for Local Journalism which Alex and Rachel dive into a bit further by exploring the gray area here. The article itself unveils that Citizen is hiring covert journalists to livestream on the app at crime scenes for $25 an hour through third-party websites. Rachel points out how misleading this is, as it sort of takes away from what Citizen is supposed to be for (locals sharing local news). Additionally, Citizen has become this app that scares people, sometimes unnecessarily so. Not all events need to be shared or known about? And what about all those false reports?
Feel free to catch this latest episode in its entirety and ALL other Dot Live Experience episodes here.