#PeriscopeEDU: Initial Reactions (<24 Hours In)

My mind has been freaking blown.

I took a philosophy class at some point in college, and the question was posed, what if our existence is just an extremely sophisticated virtual reality historical simulation from the future?  I never really bought into this, even though it was cool to think about.  However, I always wondered what it would be like to play a live action version of The Sims, with real people?

That probably sounded way creepier than intended.

Anyway, today I can stop wondering.  Last night, on Voxer, my good friend Ashley Hurley told us about the Periscope app.  Two minutes later, I heard about it from Joe Mazza, and then from more teachers in separate groups.  I had to see what all the hype was about, so I downloaded it, and made a test video from my hotel room, while watching Friends. To my surprise, people watched and interacted with me.  This was crazy!

The way Periscope works is that you link it to your Twitter account, but the whole world can see it.  You can set it to private if you want, but I think it’s more fun if you don’t.  You also have the option of turning off location.  I would highly recommend this.  Also, you have the option to tweet out the live link.

On the home screen, it suggests new videos that you can watch in real time and interact with the person filming.  It operates very similarly to Instagram, where you tap the screen to give a heart (similar to a like), or you can chat.  For the “broadcaster,” you have the option to save to your camera roll, but I haven’t figured out how to save all of the comments and hearts, as you can do on the replay.  I’ve heard the video only stays up for 24 hours.  People can watch live or asynchronously.

One thing I noticed right away is that people tend to have an obsession with fridges.  I have no idea.  Anyway, the comments I got last night were a bit inappropriate at times, but mostly fun and supportive.  People asked me questions, and suggested that I did stuff, so I played along.  It was a blast.

In the ITS EdTech Voxer group, we spoke about how it could be used to engage students, but they would have to use privacy settings, or perhaps an edu version could even come down the pipeline at a later time.

In the New UnitEd Tech Voxer group, one of my friends told me about how similar this app was to something called Meerkat.  This was echoed later today in ITS EdTech Voxer group, so I decided to check it out.

While Meerkat is cool, I prefer Periscope.  Periscope is more user-friendly, and appears to have more functionality.  I honestly haven’t dug that deeply into Meerkat, but I’m going off of initial impressions.  What I like about Periscope is that so many members of my PLN have jumped aboard, so it engages me to connect with people that I actually know.  I love watching their videos!

On Meerkat, you can also save videos to your camera roll, but it doesn’t seem to save videos on the app itself so that others can watch later.  It appears you have to catch them live.  I did see one live video, and that was pretty cool, so I’ll keep an eye on Meerkat.  It’s definitely valuable, but I am more drawn to Periscope.

Today, at Edcamp South Jersey, I used the Twitter stream feature of Periscope to document the opening.  Imagine my surprise when, instead of strangers, I now had friends from my PLN participating with comments!  Many people reported that they felt as if they were there, and reported the same when I live-streamed the lunchtime raffle.  Joe, Rusul, Judy, Kimberly, Amy and many other educators were using the hashtag #PeriscopeEDU on Twitter, which got me thinking about educational implications.

On the way home from the EdCamp, I made a video about how we could use it with students, which I hoped to try with the new Swivl (model one) that I just got.  I’ll still need to chew on this and formulate how this would be any different from livestreaming via something like Google Hangouts on Air.  I’ll probably revisit this idea at a later time.

On an even lighter note, I’ve been obsessed with using Periscope for silly reasons, just to satisfy my own curiosity.  I referenced The Sims in the introduction, and that was for a reason.  Back in the day, I would stay up late at night and wake up early in the morning to play this game.  With the Periscope app, there are tons of people making videos every second, and they want you to interact with them.  I can’t believe I spent five minutes trying to convince a guy in Europe to eat a pepper (he did it).  I constantly tap the screen to give people “hearts” in hopes of influencing them to follow my suggestions, much like you’d do on The Sims.  Something about this feels slightly sinister, but it’s all in good fun…hopefully everyone will use it for good purposes.

I really like the fact that you’re not totally anonymous (for now), as your handle is tied to your Twitter account; however, I worry that over time people may start creating fake Twitter profiles.  There are actually quite a few red flags that pop up, given the types of comments one may encounter on sites such as YouTube; but I think the potenial benefits outweigh the risks.  When it comes down to it, the risks inherent in Periscope are the same that you’d find on most other social media, particularly those including video.  I’m excited to see the growth of micro-streaming, and what it holds for the future of education and communication.

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