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I love lots of apps that I get from the App Store. Everything you could possibly want…”there’s an app for that.” (With maybe the exception of Flash. Are you listening Apple?) But Ustream Live Broadcaster definitely hits it out of the park. As a teacher, the thing I am most concerned about after my students is parent communication. We have lots of opportunities for parents to come and hear about what their children are learning, but it’s a completely different experience to see it. As such, we post lots of pictures on our grade level website; everything from field trips to day to day life in the classroom. We even have a few video clips, raw, to be sure, but fun for families to watch once the event has been recorded and archived. Ustream Live Broadcaster, however, has made it possible for families to watch while it happens.
We first experimented with Ustream during our Curriculum Night. The turnout, typically, at 5th grade is fairly low, but that doesn’t mean that people are not interested. Cooking dinner or taking care of the children at home takes precedence, as well it should. Ustreaming Curriculum Night meant that our families did not have to choose or go out of their way to do both. We were also very lucky to have a parent (Thank you again @ParkRat!) who was willing to help us get equipment set up and video tape while we were sharing. 
With the app for iPhone, I’ve been able to live stream both our Market Day event and a Winter Assembly at school. Did I mention live? Families can see what their children are doing and learning, and they don’t have to wait for us, the teachers, to get home, go through the footage, and upload it to our website. It’s the next best thing to being there in person. And setting it up? Easy as pie. I just go to the Ustream website, schedule a show, get the embed code, and copy paste to our website. Then I start up the app on my iPhone, and shoot. If you can copy and paste and hit the record button, you can use Ustream. It has been one of the simplest, easiest, most economical (it’s a free app!) ways to communicate with parents and the larger school community. 
My Ustream Live Broadcaster plans for 2010? You can be sure our families will be seeing lots of our field trips and other in-school events…live.

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