Live streams of video games have become one of the world’s most popular forms of entertainment media. Streaming (as it is commonly known as) now accounts for a significant amount of international internet usage. Twitch.tv (one of the most popular live streaming services) accounted for 3.11% of all internet traffic in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, in 2018.
We have been experimenting using a video games live stream to open up a new channel of communication between staff and students. We have found that the format supports informal dialogue between the broadcasting team and their audience. At the University of Lincoln, we have run a number of streaming events with the students. In our streams a team of colleagues play a video game as a live broadcast and the students are invited to view our channel. As we stream the students have the opportunity to engage with us and ask questions about their subject or student experience. We rotate the team involved in the stream each event allowing for a number of perspectives.
The video games streaming format has a number of advantages for student engagement initiatives. Firstly, a large number of students are already using these venues as entertainment. By running initiatives on a live stream service we take activities to a platform that the students are likely already visiting, rather than directing them to a service they wouldn’t otherwise use. We have found that this engages the typically disengaged students, but offering a low barrier to engagement. Secondly, video games are inherently entertaining, the format keeps students engaged even during breaks in interaction and discussion.
The approach has been evaluated through the data provided automatically via the twitch platform, which allows us to track viewership and engagement statistics. Furthermore, we ran a follow-up survey with the student body to further evaluate student satisfaction with the initiative. Finally, we analysed the questions we were being asked via Twitch to track how the students were using the activity to enhance their learning activities. We have had significant engagement from the student body with our streams being viewed by an estimated 80% of the cohort (either live or via the highlights reel). We have also had a number of our alumni join the stream to “catch-up” with the programme, and this has fostered some alumni-student engagements.
In this session we will provide an overview of our experience using video games live streaming as a way of opening up a new communication channel with students. We will discuss how live streaming can be embedded into university activities, and provide some insights based on our experiences. We will further discuss how live streaming can be used to enhance a learning community, providing a platform where staff, students, alumni, and other stakeholders can share ideas. We will conclude with insights and data from one of our more recent activities where we have used live-streaming has been used to communicate with applicants, and help them transition towards university life.
Headleand, C (2019) Twitch Stream (Sea of Thieves) AMA Highlights (Part 1) – 25/02/2019 [online] Youtube. Available at https://youtu.be/wvILFJ8M10g?t=1008 [Accessed 13/03/19]