virtual field trip

Live video streaming is an excellent way to have a conversation and show what is happening on the farm.  I have enjoyed the opportunity to connect farmers and classrooms via Virtual Field Trips at the Ohio Pork Council and through our county Farm Bureau for several years now.

Students in a classroom video chatting with a farmer, other students around the state and yours truly in an office.

Here are the basic items needed to host a video chat from the farm:

  1. Noise Cancelling Bluetooth Headset
  2. iPad
  3. Internet Source plus data plan

We have tried a variety of speakers and the Blue Parrott has offered unmatched quality, dependability and ease of use.  Loud noises often occur unexpectedly on the farm and this headset does a great job cancelling those noises.  I wouldn’t do a video chat without having a Blue Parrott headset.  

We have used an iPad, Samsung Galaxy tablet and iphone plus for a video chat.  Farmers prefer the iPad.  I have noticed that when the screen is larger the farmer is able to pick up more details, like how the pigs look on the screen and they have a better ability to see faces of the audience with which they are video chatting.  However if a tablet is not available I think it is better to use a large cell phone than to avoid video streaming.

For the internet source we use a tablet or phone with a data plan OR a mifi with a data plan and connect the tablet via wifi.  I have learned that running a tablet off of a hotspot from a phone weakens the signal overall.

The biggest technology challenge is getting and maintaining a strong signal.  We have tried using this signal booster and the results are inconsistent.  We have one farm that had no connectivity inside of the pig barn and with the addition of this booster has a very clear video stream after the We Boost was installed.  On other farms we have not seen that dramatic of an improvement.  

We have developed a new fix for cases where two people want to be on the farm and able to both hear and speak with noise cancelling equipment.  We used two of the Blue Parrot headsets (same as above) and got them both to connect to the ipad and serve as speakers with these tools:

  1. Microphone which could pick up audio from whomever is speaking into it.
  2. Transmitter/Receiver
  3. Microphone & Headphone Adapter
  4. Case to keep the video chat neat and organized

*Note: iPhone/iPads are very picky about the mic & splitter cable, several we tried before we found this one caused it to revert back to using the iPad internal / built-in mic instead of the better sound quality external mic.  Techy details on that here. 

We are still looking for an accessory to make holding the ipad at various heights for an hour easier.

Here is a YouTube playlist of some virtual field trips.

There are many dynamics to preparing for a live video chat.  If I can serve as a resource please reach out.  If you know of any solutions to any of the challenges I’ve outlined please let me know!

*This post contains affiliate links to products that I have used.  I get a small commission at no additional cost to you if you use the links.  This helps with the costs of maintaining a website.

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