Apple's Live Stream Debacle and EdTech

Thank you Apple.

September 9, 2014

The fist 27 minutes of the Apple 9/9 live streamed event were priceless.  

Some of the things that went wrong:

  • The audio had simultaneous translation with Chinese. We heard both the Tim and Phil's audio, and the Chinese translator.  
  • The stream kept choking, dying, and stopping.  
  • We got a nice static TV truck graphic, visuals that probably were not meant for the general audience.

Maybe you had other problems. (And I'm sure by the time you read this we will know more about what went wrong, as I"m typing this at blog post at the 1:36 pm EST mark). 

What is so strange about this Apple streaming debacle is that Apple locked down the devices that could stream the video. 

According to the Apple site: “Live streaming video requires Safari 5.1.10 or later on OS X v10.6.8 or later; Safari on iOS 6.0 or later. Streaming via Apple TV requires second- or third-generation Apple TV with software 6.2 or later.”

What does the Apple live streaming debacle teach us?

More than anything, we need to accept that technology will break.  

The something going wrong with technology will be the norm, not the exception.

The more we introduce technology into education, the more we will have things blow up.

This is not a reason to stop our efforts with blended learning, flipped classrooms, online courses, adaptive learning platforms, or open online learning.  

We should not stop holding synchronous online seminar classes. We should not stop creating rich media learning objects.

What we should accept is that things will go wrong.  

If Apple can't figure out how to stream their big live event we will also have instances where our learning technology fails.
I anticipate that learning technology will actually fail more than less in the coming years. 

Why? Because we will want to do more. 

  • We will want to do much more live teaching.  
  • We will want to move digital content creation into the hands of our students.
  • We will be doing much more with video.
  • We will be integrating hugely more platforms and apps into our core learning platforms.

We will be trying all this new technologically mediated teaching without adding a commensurate number of campus technology professionals.  Resources are tight, and schools will look for self-serve and automatic support mechanisms where possible.  This approach will only work to a point, as the technology support professionals on campus will need to stretch to meet the new demands that will be coming their way.

So thank you Apple for showing that even the world's best technology people can (and will) have bad days.

Thank you Apple for taking the risk of live streaming your big event, and then failing spectacularly.

Thank you Apple for making us campus technology people look pretty good in comparison.

For your enjoyment I've grabbed some of my favorite Tweets about the Apple Event streaming fail:

@reggiewatts  Stop with the Chinese translation @apple. It’s the switch that says “translation off” pull it to the down position.

@thomashawk I wonder if the new @apple iPhone will have Siri overdub everything in Chinese like their live stream does.

@shanselman  The Apple Live Stream is (glitching) and including Chinese live translation for their oppressed workers. 

@GreatWallofChin  This is what it's like growing up in a Chinese American household. Thanks for the memories, Apple!

@priteshpatel9  WOW! Amazing Apple fail with this live streaming shizzle. Chinese voice over, random ads, tv truck schedules…..pauses, resets, blanks!!

@nickcicero  Teaching the world chinese through the livestream is Apple's grand social media strategy.

@charlesforman  My apple live stream has chinese in it. Is that so factory worker know what they will be working on over the next year of their lives?

@zachbussey Apple's live stream hacked. Nude pictures of everyone who tried to view it going to happen now.

@Rhymestyle  Apple just pulled a skynet on me. I tried to rage quit the stream and it went non-responsive BUT the stream kept playing.

@Bardo Hey @apple instead of spending all your time on huge phones why don't you develop a live stream that actually works?

@MarlinElina  Apple live stream is working about as well as me without coffee. Oh well, it's not like I can afford the new iPhone anyway.

@AtDisneyAgain  "Hold on, the Apple II GS running this live stream needs to be rebooted." - Phil Schiller


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