Several faculty have asked us how they can show videos live, in real-time, in their online class being hosted in Zoom, in order to have discussion with students about the videos during class. The videos in question have ranged from those in library online streaming reserves or in library video databases, to videos on YouTube, to videos on Netflix or other streaming services, to clips from physical DVDs.
Watching videos together live using Zoom can present some technical challenges, because bandwidth and the technical capabilities of the faculty (and student) computers can be a constraint when trying to screen-share a video in Zoom without choppiness. When screen-sharing, the video is being transmitted from the faculty’s computer, compressed and redistributed through Zoom’s servers and will have quality loss at each retransmission point in this chain. If the video is located on a streaming service to start with, rather than the faculty computer, the quality loss can be even greater, as the video is transmitted to the faculty, prior to the steps mentioned above. Following the process below can mitigate the quality issues to the extent possible:
Note that copyright protection on some services and media will prevent the video from being shared with the Zoom application, showing only a blank grey screen. To determine if the video you want to watch has copyright protections, do a test before your class to see if a colleague or TA can see the video. If a video you want to use is copy protected in this way and won’t play, an option is to check with the the libraryto see if the video can be provided via that service.
The suggestions above for watching videos and clips synchronously via Zoom might technically work for videos available via streaming service such as Netflix or Amazon Prime, as long as the video host has a paid account on those services. However, screen sharing videos from these services to others, particularly those without paid accounts on those services, is in violation of the terms of service for those providers, so faculty should not use Zoom to screen share videos from those paid providers.
You may have heard of “watch party” apps, such as Netflix Party and others, which would allow you and your class to login together and watch while discussing a video accessed through a paid streaming service such as Netflix. “Watch party” apps have a technical advantage over Zoom in that the video from the streaming service is directly transmitted from the streaming service to the faculty and students individually, with no quality loss. The app functions just to synchronize play-back for all participants in a “party,” rather than transmitting the video itself. Some of the apps allow concurrent web conferencing with video and audio for discussion; others allow only simultaneous text chat.
To have a “party” with a video from a streaming service, the party host and all viewers must have paid accounts on the service. If you want to watch a video with your class which is hosted in Netflix, Prime, etc. and don’t want to ask all of your students to get a paid account in that service, fill out the streaming video request form to see if the video can be obtained and streamed by the library.
If you find that synchronous watching of your desired video via Zoom won’t work for you, then rather than attempt to watch videos together live, our recommendation is that you use one of these other approaches to meet your learning goals: