Over the course of the 2011-2012 academic year, we have been testing a streaming video service, Stretch Internet, for significant campus events and select sporting events. Overall, we’ve received a lot of positive feedback; long-distance parents love to be able to watch their students play football, soccer, baseball, etc., even when they can’t make it to the game in person. We even heard from one mother who watched the beginning of a baseball game in her car when she was running late! (Don’t worry: her husband was driving.)
We have learned a lot in this pilot year. First and foremost, it can be very difficult to do a lot of these events with a one-camera setup. When we did a track and field meet in January, we had a lot of viewers (well above our average), but even though a handful of events were happening at any given time, all we could really show was the track. Every sport presents its own challenges in terms of finding a good spot to set up.
Finding a reliable internet connection is also sometimes a hit-or-miss venture, since there isn’t always a network port right where we need one. Just yesterday, for instance, we had to scramble when, less than ten minutes before the start of President Eckley’s memorial service, the Chapel’s WiFi started to get bogged down. I ended up bringing over a 4G LTE/WiFi hotspot. (We’re very lucky Bloomington/Normal has such high-speed cell service!)
This summer, we will be undergoing a review with our campus stakeholders, including Athletics, Alumni Relations, Student Senate, and Communications, to decide if we should continue offering the service in the future and who will provide the ongoing funding and staff. Let us know what you think about it: do you watch it regularly? Do you like the look and feel? Any and all feedback will be appreciated, as we really are evaluating every aspect of the program.