George Lucas Educational Foundation
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Editor's note: This post is co-authored by Jennifer Williams, co-founder of and lead program developer for Calliope Global.

In order to prepare students for effective learning in an increasingly global and digital society, educators are seeking innovative communication tools that inspire student curiosity through investigation and reflection. Periscope is a powerful new tool that is inspiring teachers and students to create content together and share their worlds in impactful ways.

As a free smartphone app, Periscope allows users to broadcast a live video stream to public or private audiences. Throughout broadcasts, followers join in and view the video in real time from anywhere in the world. The chatbox feature allows viewers to interact by adding comments or questions, and viewers can "like" content by clicking the symbolic Periscope heart. Following broadcasts, sessions can be viewed for up to 24 hours or saved to a phone's camera roll. Many Periscope users also utilize Katch.me, a separate app that connects to a Periscope account and allows for automatic archiving of broadcasts that can be saved and shared through email or social media. By offering this easy-to-use interface, the possibilities for Periscope in schools can be purposeful and transformational.

Periscope for Student Instruction

As a digital collaboration tool, Periscope affords the opportunity for students to see the world through the perspectives of others. Many educators are finding innovative ways to use this tool during instruction not only to provide a platform for expanding students' communication skills, but also to allow for meaningful connection and exchange of ideas with diverse populations and audiences. The multiple viewpoints explored through Periscope sessions can prepare students for interactions of the future while expanding their critical thinking and digital literacy skills. As participants in these powerful conversations and practices of sharing, students then become co-constructors of knowledge and creators of content while involved in learning that can be relevant and impactful. Practical examples of Periscope in instruction include:

Virtual Field Trips

In world language classes, students can take virtual field trips alongside teacher-guides from target language countries (e.g. in restaurants or at festivals). Museum tours could be experienced through the lens of a Periscope interaction, opening up opportunities to visit destinations, such as the Louvre or MoMA.

Expert Speakers or Demonstrations

With Periscope, classrooms can connect with field experts or observe scientific lab experiments. Throughout the session, students can actively engage in investigative questioning by recording information and collecting data.

Historical Accounts and Interviews

Students can take a snapshot of history by participating in live broadcasts as elders or veterans tell their life stories from historically significant locations. Teachers can gain insight on depth of student understanding through analysis of such interviews and activities.

Student Collaborations

Student-to-student interactions allow for engaging experiences and shared perspectives. During projects sponsored by organizations such as iEARN, book shares such as The Global Read Aloud, or within-school scavenger hunts such as Edventure Quests, students can express their voices and take ownership of work through networked collaboration and building relationships with a broader global audience.

Periscope for Parent Engagement

For the working parent, involvement in school activities is a priority with challenges. With the aid of the Periscope app, parents can take advantage of modern technology to assume a more active role in their child's learning environment. Periscope increases transparency for parental involvement in children's education and assists in establishing connections with teachers. Better-informed parents lead to expanding school communities that better support students' needs.

Televising School Events

Parents can be part of in-school and out-of-school events by using Periscope. Through live broadcasts of school performances, sporting events, PTA meetings, and parent-teacher conferences, parents that may be unable to attend events can be included as participants.

Student Presentations

With controls set to private, students can share individual presentations with their parents. Oral reports, student-led conferences, or debates can be privately televised, and parents can contribute with comments or questions by using the chatbox feature.

Parent Education Sessions

Throughout the year, schools can offer parent education via Periscope to share about topics such as digital citizenship, new programs, and content-area presentations. Broadcasts can be archived and shared in an online library for later viewing.

Looking Ahead

As with any virtual forum, it's important for educators to be mindful of privacy issues and diligent in understanding the social collaboration space in which students are working. For student broadcasting, the viewing audience can be defined by simply switching the settings to "private." As a powerful education tool, the Periscope app inherently allows students to be active learners and content producers within each new session. With diverse audiences and distinctive interactions, social learning and maximum engagement between contributors has the potential to spark inquiry and open dialogue in education. By allowing for investigation and presentation, Periscope empowers students and teachers to make connections with authentic content as established citizens of the world.

For more information on how educators are using Periscope in the classroom, you can visit #PeriscopeEDU and #periscopeteachers on social media.

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Rusul Alrubail's picture
Rusul Alrubail
Edutopia Community Facilitator/ Student Voice & Literacy at The Writing Project

Love this post! I really enjoyed using periscope when it first came out. I can see that it can be such a powerful tool to use to connect classrooms globally, and my favourite part is actually using it to build and foster a community with parents. I am wondering what you would suggest if a teacher decides to use it in her classroom, would a class account work well or should students have their own accounts? Provided of course they meet the age requirement. Thanks for sharing such a fabulous idea!

Linda's picture

I love this...I don't know why I hadn't thought of Periscope for educational purposes!

"Broadcasts can be archived and shared in an online library for later viewing." I have only used Periscope once...Can someone describe how this is done?

Thanks for the ideas!

Wade Muncil's picture

I will look into periscope and hopefully be using it with my culture class spring semester.
My students are 1st year College students from UAE and we would love to collaborate with students from around the world.

Megan's picture

What a fantastic post! Periscope is a new tool that I have been unfamiliar with, but have wanted for a while to learn more about. It would be great to be able to connect with classrooms from all over the world to collaborate together in learning. Students would be able to have many real world experiences and make many real world connections by using Periscope. Another great way to use Periscope I have found is by reaching students when they are absent. If they were able, this would allow students to participate with the class in real time. Something I would like to do is get parents involved in using Periscope for them to see what is happening in our classroom.

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Fran Siracusa's picture
Fran Siracusa
Educational Technologist and Consultant

Hi Megan! (Thanks for the compliment by the way!) You are spot-on with your idea about using Periscope as a resource for absent students, and one I will be sure to pass along! In my Spanish classroom, I had utilized a similar approach by using Skype; however, the ease of the Periscope tool, and its feature to only offer "one-way audio communication" may be better suited to younger students who may assist the teacher as "videographer."
On your other point, I agree that Periscope can be an invaluable tool for classroom connections across the world. In this same design, please plan to attend EdCamp Global Classrooms, a 24-hour presentation event run by students using tools such as Periscope. (We are hosting a 5th grade session, actually, at 1:00 pm Eastern time, on 1/28/16, about Global Play.) Looking forward to many more global collaborations in virtual spaces! Take care!

Donna Guzzo's picture

Great article Fran! I use Periscope with my elementary school students and they love it. I'm using it also for meetings. Keep smiling.

Abigail Pollak's picture
Abigail Pollak
Marketing Assistant

Periscope also has some privacy features that educators can use to protect their students.

Linda's picture

Thank you so much Amber! I will look into this and give it a try in the near future!

Linda

Fran Siracusa's picture
Fran Siracusa
Educational Technologist and Consultant

Sadly, recent changes have occurred over at Katch.me and the company is closing down. Be sure to download your Periscope videos, and perhaps upload them to Vimeo or YouTube for future viewing.

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