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From eSports to Lectures: Twitch Streaming into Higher Ed

In April 2021, the digital community builders got together to discuss ways in which Twitch has been integrated into student life as both an entertainment and community-building tool. At any given time, there are over 2 million people watching a Twitch stream, pulling exciting contents from concerts to baking shows to video game tournaments and to academic lessons. Though Twitch has been one of earlier streaming platforms and social engagement hubs online, it wasn’t until recently that campuses and educators began utilizing Twitch for educational and community building purposes. So we explored: what does Twitch offer for today’s higher ed?

About Higher Ed Digital Community Builders

Organized by Dr. Josie Ahlquist, this Facebook group is a clubhouse for higher education professionals to connect, reimagine and transform how we build genuine campus digital communities and strategic online engagement experiences. Every week, community members share resources, discussions, and opportunities to further develop digital communities that serve our students, families, and partners in timely, innovative, and supportive ways. 

Highlighted Content from Panelists

Links to what was mentioned during the Lead Online panel. (Click the image for full link or article)

[2:00] When did you first discover Twitch? What are some of your go-to streams during this pandemic?

[6:30] How would you describe Twitch to a non-user?

[9:08] What should you expect when you first log in to Twitch?

[12:10] What are some other examples that twitch has been used for?

[17:25] How have you integrated twitch into your work?

 

[33:43] If you were going to start a new channel, what might you suggest as tips, strategies, and elements of starting a new platform? How to identify potential collaboration with students?

[40:35] What are some best practices or strategies to ensure consistency and development of the Twitch program? What would be a good starter pack for creating a Twitch channel?

It's an ever growing experience that you are going to fail miserably time and time again, you are going to be put in situations, you are going to be pushed out of your comfort zone, and your comfort levels are going to get demolished, because it’s the internet. It's good to have a practice account so you can start by setting up simple bots and rules, and you should become a part of community and try to emulate what others are doing. In all honesty, sometimes you just have to go live and hope for the best!

 

[49:20] What are some of the formal and informal ways you can further develop skill sets to run a Twitch channel?

 

[54:08] What are some of the key ingredients in order to advocate for creating a twitch channel to a leadership team that is hesitant or doesn’t have experience? How long might this take realistically?

Additional Resources from Josie

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From speaking, workshops, coaching and consulting, Josie has transformed her services that can be delivered 100% remotely.

Panelists

Andrew Cassel, Social Strategist and Content Producer at Middlebury College

Andrew Cassel has been creating and curating social media content for higher ed since 2011. Cassel speaks regularly about social media content including appearances at 2018-2020 HigherEd Experts Higher Ed Content conferences, ContentEd 2021, the American Geophysical Union 2018 annual fall meeting, as well as full sessions at the 2017-2020 Higher Ed Web annual conferences. In 2019 he was a host for Higher Ed Live – Marketing Live. His most recently published work is in the Journal of Education Advancement & Marketing Vol. 5, No. 4. “Twitch for higher education marketing and communications: Creating a presence in the gaming world”.

Jack Blahnik, Esports Graduate Assistant at Illinois State University

Graduating from Illinois State University in 2019 with his degree in Criminal Justice Sciences, Jack decided to pursue his passion of Esports by returning to Illinois State University to pursue his master’s degree in Recreation Administration. Currently Jack serves as the Esports Graduate Assistant with Campus Recreation at Illinois State.

Paul Bennett, Residential Life Coordinator for Leadership and Development at Northwest Missouri State University 

Working as a Student Affairs Professional for the past 13 years and Streaming on Twitch since 2017, Paul has often found a way to combine his passions when the opportunity arises. Paul is currently serving as the Residential Life Coordinator for Leadership and Development at Northwest Missouri State University. While working at Northwest, Paul pushed to create the E-Sports Club Program and is currently working on the implementation of a Varsity Program.

Devan Tozzo, Twitch Broadcaster/Streamer

Graduating from University of St. Thomas in 2019 with her MA in English, Devan made the decision to pursue a full-time career as a Twitch broadcaster under the moniker TheHotdish. Since then, she’s founded The 8-Bit Community (8BC), 8BC Stream Team, and is currently working on founding an all-women based stream team to amplify women’s voices on the platform.

Moderator, Josie Ahlquist

Dr. Josie Ahlquist is a digital engagement and leadership researcher, speaker, and consultant. She teaches teens, young adults, education professionals, and campus executives how to humanize technology tools and prioritize building community online.

Josie absolutely loves fostering and educating about digital community building. So, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, she created a Facebook group called the Higher Ed Digital Community Builders, which has grown to nearly 2,000 members. She also created and manages the Digital Community Building Cohort, a mastermind educational program for higher education social media managers to improve online community building strategies.

As a researcher and writer, Josie is extensively published and maintains an active blog and podcast, which have received accolades from EdTech Magazine, Inside Higher Ed and the Chronicle of Higher Education. Her new book, Digital Leadership in Higher Education: Purposeful Social Media in a Connected World was listed as an Amazon #1 new release for college and university student life.

She also serves as a teaching faculty at Florida State University, creating curriculum to build digital literacy and leadership skills for undergraduates up to doctorate level students. Josie received her doctorate from California Lutheran University in Higher Education Leadership, Masters in Education from Northern Arizona University. She majored in sociology and human development at South Dakota State University.

About Josie

I’m Dr. Josie Ahlquist—a digital engagement and leadership consultant, researcher, educator, and author. I’m passionate about helping people and organizations find purposeful ways to connect, engage, and tell their unique story. I provide consulting, executive coaching, and training for campuses, companies, and organizations that want to learn how to humanize technology tools and build effective and authentic online communities.

My blog and podcast have been recognized by EdTech Magazine, Inside Higher Ed and the Chronicle of Higher Education. My book, Digital Leadership in Higher Education, was published in 2020 and was listed as a #1 new release for college and university student life. I have been growing my consultancy since 2013 and am based in Los Angeles. When I’m not helping clients lead online, you might find me training for a triathlon, spoiling my nieces and nephews, or exploring with my husband and our rescue dogs in our new RV called Lady Hawk.

I’d love to connect! Find me on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

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