Saturday, 21 March 2020

Sharing Videos During Closure - A Simple Solution

Here's a blog post I never thought I'd write! Now we are closed to education (but very much open to childcare), lots of schools are turning to using video.  Because of bandwidth issues and the enhanced pressures on the internet, it's better to record videos rather than try to share them live. We are doing this daily with our year group teams for children and regular whole-school videos (assemblies, shout-outs, sing-a-longs, fun snippets).  Here I'll outline the very simple way in which we are hosting these. 

What you need: 
A Google account.  I'd recommend a new one which doesn't link to any personal email addresses. 
A phone/tablet to record.
The Google Photos app - optional. Only really useful if your device is a school device and you're happy to stay logged into the Google account you are using. 

How to prepare
Log into the Google account you are using and go to photos.google.com.  Go to the Albums area: 
Within Albums, create the albums you wish to have (we have one for each year group and a general one). 
Until you have added anything into the albums, these will appear in the Sharing area:
To set up each album appropriately so people can see it but not add to it or comment on anything, go to the three dots in the top right-hand corner and click on "Options".
You will then want to configure the options as below, allowing the album to be shared and obtaining a link for this, while also turning off the collaboration and comments/likes options.
Now your albums are all ready and you have your links for each album.  The link remains the same and you simply add videos into the album whenever you wish.  It's worth making a document with all the links on.

How to record
Record your video as you normally would.  iPads must record with the home button to the left ('left home') otherwise it may be upside down! 

How to upload
The best way to upload videos to Google Photos is via an internet browser.  Go to photos.google.com and sign in with the account you are using.  You may need to download the video from the device you are using - it depends on which devices you are using to record/upload.  Our staff are saving all the videos in One Drive/Sharepoint (the school works entirely on Office 365 but the Microsoft package still doesn't have an option to share albums publicly like this) and I'm downloading from One Drive them uploading into Google Photos. 

Once you know where the video file is saved, go to the album you want to upload into and click the add photos symbol.
For the first video
For any further videos

If you're recording straight into Google Photos, you can then choose the videos to add into the album.  If, like us, you're not. You'll need to click the Select from computer button in the top right-hand corner.
Browse to where the video file is saved (mine will be in downloads after I've taken them off the One Drive).  It's important for handling lots of videos that they're named correctly so you know which files to choose. Choose your file and click "open".  The file will then upload. This can also be done by dragging the file into the album page.  The upload takes some time if the file is large but it works for videos up to and beyond 15 minutes in my experience.
Once the video is uploaded, it may take some time to fully process. 

How to share with the community
Once your albums are made with the appropriate settings, the videos are recorded and have been uploaded to Google Photos into the correct album, you're ready to share the link. Simple copy the link in the "options" area and paste it wherever you like.  We are using this page of our website to share video links and pdfs to work to complete. The same page will be updated every day. However, the video album links never change.  You could also send the links via a parent communication system, Twitter, Google Classroom...however you like! 

Please note: there is an option within Google Albums for people with a Google account to "join". We are asking parents to avoid doing this (although many clicked Join anyway!) as it shows your name to everyone who can view the album. This isn't a big problem but worth knowing.  They can't do anything else with the album (if you've sorted the options above) and no other information is visible from the album. Also, these albums are now completely public so we will be only using first names and class. 

I hope this has helped some of you with preparing for this coming few weeks/months and I wish you all the very best with looking after yourselves, your families and your pupils in whatever way is most appropriate. 


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