High school assembly – Sydney Distance Education
Sydney Distance Education High School runs virtual assemblies once per term to provide information about the school to students and supervisors.
Students who meet specific enrolment requirements attend Sydney Distance Education High School (SDEHS) because they are not able to attend another school on a full-time basis. We teach courses remotely for full-time and part-time students, including students with medical conditions and those with additional support needs. We also teach students studying single courses which they are not able to access at their home schools. We offer a range of courses in Years 7 – 10 with our middle school program providing further courses for students who need additional literacy and numeracy support. We teach 40 courses for Years 11-12.
As of July 2021, SDEHS has 1529 students, over 161 full-time teaching positions and 24 support staff. In total we employ more than 200 full-time and part-time staff. The student population is very dynamic as students enrol and leave throughout the year as they transition to and from other schools.
The school is based in Woolloomooloo, but we serve students from areas north of Wollongong, south of Newcastle, and west to the Blue Mountains.
The school runs virtual assemblies once per term to provide information about the school to students and supervisors. The assemblies are approximately 12 - 15 minutes long and have used live content, pre-recorded feeds, live chat and live crosses.
We really wanted to make sure that these assemblies were relevant to students. We included items that informed students about what was happening around the school and how students can get involved. We also ensured that there were student and parent voices during the assembly.
In 2020, the school held virtual presentation assemblies for Year 12 and Year 10 to celebrate student success.
On the Virtual Assemblies page of our school website there is a live stream placeholder, recordings of previous assemblies and a feedback survey. On the day of the assembly we also embed a live moderated discussion so that students and parents can participate by asking questions or making comments.
Most of the equipment and video expertise was already in the school.
- Mac Book pro
- DSLR Camera
- OBS software
- 4G internet dongle
- Backchannel chat software
- Premier Pro for editing pre-recorded video.
The main hurdles were:
- acquiring a 4G dongle as the school wifi would not work
- learning the OBS and Brightcove software
- switching to remote locations
- Two teachers organised, shot and edited the pre-recorded videos and were producers during the livestream. Including, moderating and contributing to the live feed discussion.
- A computer coordinator provided technical support for equipment, Brightcove and AEM.
- And of course, the talent – Students, Principal, Deputy Principals, head teachers and teachers.
We followed the department's livestreaming guides:
We developed a plan to schedule the live video (speeches), pre-recorded video, credits, titles, images and live crosses. All the live speeches were scripted and rehearsed in advance and a teleprompter was used to keep it on time.
Change of approach
In Term 4, 2020 we moved entirely to pre-recorded content to reduce risks and technical issues. However, we still used the live Brightcove streaming service for a variety of reasons. It provided a “live” feel, the recordings were placed in a playlist, it worked seamlessly with the School Website Service site and it provided analytics of how many people were watching it.
One of the main goals behind the virtual assembly was also to bring everyone together at the same time, so we introduced a live chat discussion during the assembly. There has been some very positive feedback from students, parents and teachers about this new feature.
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All music had a creative commons license.
All students recorded in the pre-recorded video had signed parent/carer permission to publish approval.
Code of conduct
All content was either pre-recorded or highly scripted and delivered by a staff member or one of the student leadership group.
All chat discussion was monitored, and student and parent names were hidden from other users. Only approved messages went live and staff followed up on any inappropriate or off-topic discussions.