Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Anyone else livestreaming?

The Thames Valley District School Board held its first-ever livestreamed board meeting Tuesday night— the link is obviously dead now, but will be live when the board holds its public meetings (usually on the second and third Tuesdays of each month at 7 p.m., with some exceptions).
The trial run was held in early November, and the Nov. 24 meeting had about 25 people connected at its peak use— though the IT guy admitted many of those were superintendents seated in the administrative pews and others in the building.
Once the word gets out though I would expect more to connect— given the swath of southern Ontario at play the trip to London isn't as easy as firing up the computer and clicking on a few links (high-speed Internet service would be key).
Is there any other board in the province livestreaming their meetings? Are any of them even carried on local cable TV?


RetDir said...

I believe Bluewater is planning on this as part of their rebuilding exercises. In my previous board the cable people said it wasn't worth their effort, as their viewing audience is so small in places where they do broadcast them - I think they would attract the same audience as CSpan - political junkies, and not too many get a satisfactory fix from school board meetings. Relatively speaking, it's much more interesting watching the leg or parliament if you are into that kind of political soma.

Daniel said...

I think live streaming and posting past meetings (audio/visual) is something that all boards (and town councils) should be doing. I have been recording most public proceedings when delegations were presenting to the DSBN out here in Niagara on behalf of SOS. It allows those who are not available to attend the meetings in person a sense of participation and the ability to "be there". It also gives them the full story rather than what can be limited media coverage.

To date, the various SOS videos have been viewed 1000's of times and have become an excellent resource. While minutes of meeting are useful for an overall picture, the recordings provide an exact source of what was said and by whom. In my opinion, it can make trustee members (and other speakers) more accountable for what they say.

People may think that there is the potential for privacy concerns, however these are unfounded. Many town councils/boards allow local cable to broadcast meetings and have the media take pictures for newspapers or even tape record presentations for playback on the radio. Nobody complains. When you realize that these are public meetings taking place in a public building there is really no legitimate privacy problems.

I hope that every board and town council starts to live stream, or at the very least, post complete meetings after the fact. It is just an extension of what is happening now with the public attending the physical meeting, we are just making it easier with the virtual version.

Daniel Feuer

Education Reporter said...

Kudos to you and your group for putting up hours and hours of video at your own cost.

I agree with everything you said-- for a relatively small capital investment and some additional staff time (hopefully volunteers, but this isn't always possible), anyone can livestream any public meeting. RogersTV in Woodstock uses all robotic cameras at council meetings and it's run by a single volunteer at a control station.

I've been trying liveblogging / tweeting significant meetings, but this hasn't always proven feasible when I'm typing notes for an eventual article as well. The intent is the same-- to relay the information to a wider audience than is possible through physical attendance at the event.

But, considering some boards (and trustees) still struggle with things such as electronic agendas, it's baby steps for some.


Anonymous said...

We shouldn't underestimate the interest on the part of citizens to tune in to something like this because in my small town you would be amazed to learn how many folks tune in to watch church services and council meetings on our local cable station - more than one would have expected.

I was in the Boston area a few weeks ago and they were televising their local school council meeting, and the opening ceremonies of a Chinese Charter School. Guess what? I watched and found the council meeting especially interesting because the parents had brought in a Grade 4 test and were dissecting it and discussing the merit of some of the questions with respect to the curriculum requirements. Interesting too was the way the room was configured, with the school council at the front of the room at a head table, the principal and board trustee in the audience with the parents running the show and discussion.

School board meetings aren't very exciting fares or very informative these days what with so much coming down the pipe prescribed by the gov't. Most folks would tune in if they could see their trustee in action or in debate but I find meetings appear too scripted sometimes to not allow for that kind of candid discussion.

Unless they're issue specific or involved a school closure most people aren't that interested in the day-t-day workings of school boards.

I've often heard also that there's almost too much information out there coming into the home in the form of newsletters, newspapers, tv etc. that it's become a type of overkill or data smog that's easy to put aside or ignore all together.


Anonymous said...

I believe Trillium Lakelands and Upper Canada livestream, as well.

I do not know of any that are on cable some areas it is difficult just to get the local newspaper to cover the School Board meetings!!!!!