Education and Entertainment: Live Streaming’s Dual Role in Singapore

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The Impact of Live Streaming in Education

 

The ability to broadcast live content in response to events has also led to live-streamed tutorials or question and answer sessions between students and teachers.

Live streaming Singapore mitigates all of these problems. A live stream can be low latency and is adaptive in bit rate, resolution, and streaming server. This means that buffering times are kept to a minimum and the video will always be watchable at a quality level which is determined by the viewer’s internet speed. This is possible because live streaming Singapore uses protocols which are different from those used by progressive download video (where the video file is downloaded and then played). Live streaming protocols break the video file into small ‘chunks’ which are downloaded and played sequentially. ‘Chunks’ are cached so that they may be played again if necessary. Live streaming reduces the price of failure for each chunk to only the time that it takes to download that chunk, in contrast to download and play where failure to play the entire file or buffering time is a common outcome.

The most direct impact of live streaming on education is that it has made available various educational resources to any location with high-speed internet access. Both free and paid educational resources are now abundant on the internet. Live streaming enables these resources to be delivered in video form to the learner. In the past, downloading a video file and watching that video on a PC was the only way to view video-based content. However, video files are often large and high-quality videos can be difficult to view on slower internet connections. The experience is not unlike VHS tapes, which often cannot be fast-forwarded or rewound. If the tape is dirty, the video may not be viewable at all. Downloading files is also consuming of hard drive space and difficult to manage. Moreover, the geographic location of the learner and server has posed a problem. For example, a European learner wanting to watch an educational video hosted on a North American server may experience slow loading times for the video due to high latency and low bandwidth. This situation could render the video unwatchable.

The impact of live streaming has had a profound effect on education. Given that one of the key properties of live streaming is that it enables any web user to broadcast to an audience which can participate in real time, live streaming has given rise to new forms of teaching which take advantage of these possibilities. Live streaming has enabled new didactic and pedagogical methods to be employed which foster active learning, critical thinking, creation of knowledge, and collaborative learning on the part of the learner. Live streaming has also dramatically increased access to educational materials no matter the geographic location. These positive impacts of live streaming have the potential to revolutionize education.

Enhancing Remote Learning Opportunities

Sequentially, educators worldwide have been greatly inspired by the potential of live streaming as a method of education. So much so that Education New Zealand and the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) recently produced a guide to live streaming. This was done due to large numbers of educators wanting to use this method as a way to deliver vivid, real-time instruction to students who were affected by the Christchurch earthquakes. The guide is to assist schools and tertiary organizations in learning methods to effectively deliver a quality learning experience. This shows an example of how live streaming is now being considered as a serious and effective method of teaching. Primary and secondary students affected by the earthquakes saw live stream sessions ranging from classroom activities to one-on-one tutorials with teachers. This allowed them to remain on pace with their studies, and for those sitting national examinations, they were still able to receive necessary help and advice from teachers. Live streaming has shown to be a positive way of allowing learning continuity during adverse situations.

Dramatic growth in technology has considerably altered traditional learning methods. According to the National Infocomm Development Authority (NIDA), technology can be a great method for learning, thanks to its ability to permit “simulations and modeling.” The memorandum’s goal was to start a project to raise education using technology. In recent years, an example can be seen in the form of “e-learning” as well as remote learning through various educational institutions and websites. With the ability to stream live educational seminars, classes, and lectures, students are no longer restricted by geographical limitations. This is especially important in Singapore due to its shortage of educational institutions that provide a wide variety of fields. Live streaming can provide alternative ways to pick up knowledge in these fields without needing to travel to foreign countries. E-learning being a key method of education in Singapore, live streaming can easily be implemented into the lessons of these students.

Facilitating Interactive Virtual Classes

A final form of live interaction is through live streaming an event, such as a Q&A session with a guest speaker, within a virtual classroom.

An alternative form of virtual class is the real-time distance learning session. In this case, educators and students may not be online at the same time due to scheduling conflicts, but the interaction is still live. For instance, a Japanese language class has students from Japan, North America, and the UK. Real-time sessions are not feasible due to time zone differences. The educator can then ask the students to record interviews in Japanese with partners from the same time zone and post these interviews in the virtual classroom. During the next class, the instructor shows each interview, pausing the tape at intervals to point out errors, ask comprehension questions, elicit responses from the viewing students, and facilitate discussion between the interviewee and other students. The students stay motivated by the real-time nature of the interviews, knowing that their mistakes will be addressed in front of the class.

The nature of live streaming allows for live interaction and immediate responses to comments or questions, and it is this characteristic that educators should capitalize on. Interactive virtual lessons can take several forms. First, traditional face-to-face lessons can be conducted through a live virtual classroom. In this scenario, educators send a link to a virtual room to students, and at the designated class time, they and their students log in. Educators can present slides or other visuals, and students can ask questions or make comments, much as they would during a normal lesson. The lesson can even be recorded for students to view at a later time. This method allows educators to conduct regularly scheduled classes, without losing the interactive nature of the lesson.

Expanding Access to Educational Resources

Singapore is an education-hungry nation, as evidenced by the fact that while it’s one of the fastest adopting live streaming markets in the Asian region, the primary use of live streaming is still within education. Using live streaming to replace traditional tuition, ensure makeup lesson materials are still covered when students miss classes, or in the case of this 45-year-old upper secondary level social studies teacher Richard Sng, ensure his students learn despite his struggle with severe speech problems and inaudibility, live streaming is seen as a real-time way to communicate knowledge from teacher to student. And by this, teacher Jeremy Wee ends almost all his orders for educational DVDs over the past 2 years and instead opts to subscribe to live streaming site Toggle as they upload the shows he wants to use to teach history a day after they air. All these serve as an indicator of how important it is for education to keep moving towards live content broadcast, and here is where the importance of access to educational resources comes into play. In no other time has it been easier for a student to download a video from half the world away to aid his studies. With the increasing prevalence of educational resources from around the globe being made available online, it is becoming necessary to direct students and teachers to these resources in order for them to remain competitive in the global village. An example cited by Seow & Kan: it is a school that largely caters to students from low-income families. The school is likely to have students with broadband internet access, yet lack the appropriate resources to purchase educational television or video-on-demand services. This leaves out an excellent medium to deliver audio-visual education, and in a scenario such as this mentioned by History teacher Mr. Elton See, currently a tutor using mostly live streaming to reach his students, it is hoped that live streaming would be made available at a cheaper rate to further aid those in similar situations.

The Influence of Live Streaming in Entertainment

Enriching the Viewing Experience Unlike traditional forms of media such as television and cinema, live streaming’s ability to encompass a wide range of interactivity has made the viewing experience much more enriched and immersive. Websites such as Twitch.tv have successfully integrated interactivity into gaming through chat, allowing viewers to play games with broadcasters and vote on in-game decisions. More recently, Netflix Party has debuted as a Google Chrome extension, allowing users to synchronize video playback and enjoy a movie together with a chat window. These technological advances are preserving the traditional social aspects of viewing media, enabling it to be shared among friends or family. The extension of this to the global platform, however, is redefining cultural immersion and understanding. By utilizing foreign languages and second language learning to interact with people outside of their home countries, viewers are provided with a natural and relaxed environment to practice language skills. Current live streaming software such as XSplit and Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) offer multiplatform and multilingual support, making it easier for broadcasters to reach an international audience. High-speed internet and increased reliability on consumer technology mean that many live stream viewers have access to the latest international music, sports, and news through various internet media, yet live streaming presents one of the only mediums where viewers can directly interact with an international broadcaster or performer. The unique understanding and bonding that occurs through direct communication is a powerful tool that has the ability to dissolve cultural barriers and segregations.

Apparently, the influence of live streaming on entertainment is nothing short of dynamic and radical. Interactive features such as live chats between audiences and cast members of a show have redefined the way communities interact and fostered a new dimension of virtual social connection. Increased accessibility to foreign content and live performances has also promoted increased cultural exchange, allowing international content to reach a wider audience and exposing viewers to a diverse range of cultures and lifestyles.

Enriching the Viewing Experience

The ‘live’ in live streaming offers viewers a direct sense of participation in the show or concert being broadcast. The sense of intimacy helps to build a greater connection with the presenter, band, or performer. Respondent 9 mentioned that parallel interactions between performers and the virtual audience members through song requests and dedications made the experience more special. These interactions helped to differentiate it from that of a live television program where audiences could only watch passively. As confessed by a virtual gig enthusiast, the ability to communicate with performers helped bridge the gap between a real and virtual musical experience. Viewer connectivity and interaction have also been greatly enhanced through the widespread availability of social networking and micro-blogging sites. These platforms sync well with live streaming events, which traditionally encourage real-time ‘status updates’ and comments regarding the ‘show of the moment’. During a special music event held by an online music program, global music site Last FM, audiences were encouraged to sign into Last FM internet radio and join the artist’s own playlist. This linkage of on and off-site activities has created a ‘fusion’ of music fans. Live streaming has also done well to provide a greater variety of premium entertainment to viewers. A few years back, the concept of watching live concerts on the internet would have seemed bizarre in comparison to the real thing. However, now with rising ticket prices, it has become more of a cost-effective prospect in addition to being a less stressful alternative to queuing bewildered in a field of drunken teenagers. Ultimately, a statistical research done by Accustream iMedia Research has indicated that in 2008, live streaming of events generated a total of $545 million. This figure represents a 67.6% growth in comparison to 2007. The research also indicated that the majority of live streaming revenue was generated through advertising, at a sum of $425 million. Though the monetization of live streaming events seems to conflict with the romantic notion of a ‘pure’ non-corporately influenced music or sports event, the fact remains that it has helped bring better quality shows and events for viewers to enjoy. This era of economic downturn has seen a fall in ticket sales at many high-profile events. This, in turn, has led to many events being axed or downgraded. In all, the entertainment experience facilitated by live streaming has seen great evolution over the years. It has identified weaknesses in comparison to the ‘real’ event and taken measures to better simulate the experience for viewers, in addition to sustaining a more interactive device. Today’s high internet speeds have made this form of entertainment more accessible than ever. Thus, it is likely that it will continue to grow and better cater to the needs of viewers.

Fostering Virtual Social Connections

Sharing similar conclusions, both pieces identify chat rooms or functionalities as prominent modes of interaction in live streaming sites. Cheterian et al (2005) notes that the instant feedback from the audience member to the performer and between audience members is one of the keys to the success of The Globe sessions, particularly when the audience member has enjoyed the music. This interactivity becomes an enjoyable end in itself, distinct from and even preferred to the webcasting of the audio-only content. This conclusion is drawn not only from feedback, but from observations of audience members caught up in such exchanges, grinning and chuckling in the manner of people who are enjoying a joke together. It is generally agreed among both audience members and performers in the live sessions that the interaction adds an extra dimension to the music, creating a sense of occasion. It is this intangible but very real added value which represents the strongest case for the regular use of cyber-streaming as a tool for musicians wishing to promote and provide their music. Tuters and Varnel (2006) further express that social interaction through live streamed video has both a promotional benefit and a sense of community among dispersed people with niche interests. This is a symmetrical exchange between audience and performer which Cheterian et al (2005) and The Globe sessions found to be a feature not always present in offline venues.

Promoting Cultural Exchange through Live Performances

For a case study of Japanese pop cultural export, we can examine the potential role of live streaming for the Tokyo Girls Collection (TGC) fashion show. TGC is an annual event showcasing Autumn/Winter and Spring/Summer collections from Japan’s top domestic brands to a young female audience. The recent TGC in Singapore was well received by the local young female fashion community and widely covered by local media, despite being held at the smaller room 1 venue. Aware of the popularity of Japanese fashion and pop culture among young Singaporeans, TGC executive producer Nobuo Ohmori has expressed hopes of making it an annual event and bringing larger scale shows to Singapore in future. If such shows were to be live streamed back to Singapore while they are still beyond the reach of TGC’s physical target audience, young Singaporean fans of Japanese fashion and pop culture would have a chance to witness the show while it is still new and highly relevant to their interests. A regularly updated TGC live stream could also help to sustain and build upon the event’s initial success in Singapore.

Live streaming has transformed Singaporeans’ access to international cultural events. With Touristvision simulcasting the Singapore Arts Festival from 2007 to 2009, plus a joint collaboration with Singtel and Starhub to bring the S.League to local fans in 2010, Singaporean fans can now watch overseas performances and sporting events within the comfort of their homes. Although these are not actual live streams, they demonstrate the potential for Singaporean cultural consumers to use live streaming as a means to access events that are beyond their reach. This can be particularly significant for niche events that are not financially viable to bring to Singapore, giving audiences the chance to access events they would not otherwise have been able to experience.

Live streaming has established itself as a force to be reckoned with in Singapore for a greater part of the 21st century. It first gained recognition and popularity as a form of entertainment, where early technologies enabled the live broadcast of events and content that catered to a myriad of different tastes and preferences. The technology has evolved, thus bringing forth a twofold of iterative changes and impact on society. With the advent of mobile technology and greater accessibility, it has become a pervasive tool that has permeated through the social fabric of everyday life. The ability to impart information in real time has made it a useful tool in education, providing new and novel channels for sharing ideas and imparting knowledge to others. It was reported in 2007 that various tertiary institutions have implemented webcasting of lectures and tutorials, and exchange of multimedia-rich educational content to facilitate the learning process. Such examples of the use of live streaming in education provide evidence that the technology offers a level of interactivity, convenience, and flexibility that is not found in traditional methods of learning delivery.

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