Just in Time digital Literacy and Tech Assistance for your students and your community

Our communities, locally and nationally lack options for "just in time" tech assistance. I think of the effect that National Public Radio's Click and Clack show had on increasing the public's knowledge about cars and car repair. After listening to every show, I would struggle with thoughts around how some sort of call in education resource might work. 

I believe that the Internet has some tools freely available today that would allow a collaborative team from around the country to create a sort of drop in experience. One tool that enforces my belief that this can be done is called Twitch.tv. The site was originally created so that video game players could not only share their game play with others around the world, the presenters could interact with their audience through a text chat that is running during the performance in the game. This expanded over time to include art, music, cooking, mountain climbing, and even people sharing their experiences doing bicycle deliveries of food in NY city. People are allowed to share their passions and experiences with live audiences and all the streams created are stored in Twitch for a period of time and can easily be recorded over to YouTube. If you should go to someone's twitch channel and they are not live, there are often recent broadcasts you can view.  Here are some links to examples people may wish to check out if they have never heard of twitch:


(Note that many recorded streams include many minutes of intro music and waiting. Don't be afraid to just advance the video a few minutes to pick up when the person really starts)

Example of cooking: https://www.twitch.tv/chefjohnreed (Teaching about cooking) 23K followers

Example of music: https://www.twitch.tv/chewiemelodies (Incredible artist that reproduces music by ear) 79.9K followers

Example of art: https://www.twitch.tv/sandexperiment/video/798963035 (awesome sand art) 16.7K followers

Example of travel:https://www.twitch.tv/awkwards_travel (Couple sharing their travels around the world on their boat) 67K followers

Example of extreme adventures: https://www.twitch.tv/ryanintherockies (Experience extreme rock climbing live!) 4K followers

Example of delivering on a bike for a living: https://www.twitch.tv/miekii (NY city deliver person's life) 39K followers


Now, most content on twitch is not aimed at teaching, but the interaction between the audience and the presenter is certainly educational and creates a community of support centered on the content theme of the channel. In terms of running a "technology in education" stream, a team could run the channel as a sort of improvisational session. The team could have some planned experiences to share and these could even be themed to different days (Word processing Wednesdays, Dealing with Email Tuesday, Working with graphics Thursday...). As viewers pop in and have questions, either on the topic or in a different direction, the one running the stream could adapt and deal with the question in that moment or offer to jot it down for the team to address on an upcoming day's stream. Alternatively, the stream could have segments like Tech Show and Tell, Tech in Education News, Tech reviews of software and hardware, Tech general call in help, Email bag, Skill building hour or many other segment options.


Twitch is free to stream and as you might notice from the recorded videos on some of the streams linked above, any number of hours and days can be put up. As a channel attracts more and more people to it, more and more production and revenue options come into play. One might be asking how the people streaming get paid? I don't want to take up tons of reading time explaining all of the options, but one of the many options includes something called subscriptions. These are small (maybe $5 - $7) donations every month. Typically about 10% of a channel's followers also subscribe. If we look at the followers listed above after the links, it is easy to see there is nice income potential as you build up your audience even though roughly 1/3 of the money generated goes to Twitch for access to the platform (there are ways around this a bit)..People who subscribe often get special privileges within the stream. For instance, they may become moderators that help in chat to keep things safe and clean in there. Subscribers might be the only ones able to ask questions live while other viewers have to email in questions to be addressed at later dates. A public service stream like this would also attract substantial donations to help expand the service to include more hours or days of the week. The power of volume on the Internet can create incredible revenue streams if end users appreciate what is offered. Many streams that put in the time and energy to really learn this medium have enough income from many sources within their stream to make streaming their full time job.


I am not suggesting that a team of people offering tech help through a twitch channel is going to get rich, rather donations, subscriptions, sponsorship, grants and maybe even special training events offered could all keep people compensated for their time, experience and passions. Getting the right team of tech navigators together seems like something a discussion group like this could easily find some people interested. I would love to work with others wishing to explore a medium like this that helps bring free technology support and education to the many in our population that need it. 

Anyone have interest or questions around the idea of setting up a national "Just in Time Tech Literacy and Tech Assistance" twitch channel?

Ed Latham

email: ohgeer@gmail.com
phone: 1-207-440-9794