Since April of last year I have been itching to use CoverItLive, an online tool that allows you to, as the name suggests, cover live events through a forum that can be accessed by anyone around the world. I had seen the tool in action at a CASE conference I went to and have been looking for the ideal moment to put it to good use. A week before Christmas I got my wish.
As everyone in the Tufts community knows, our beloved all male a cappella group, The Beelzebubs, recently had a brush with stardom as they were chosen to be one of eight groups from around the country to compete on the NBC reality show "The Sing Off." The show, which only aired for four nights, pitted the contestants up against one another with one to two groups being eliminated each night, coming down to a final three on finale night. As the Bubs continued to move on night after night, eventually making it to the finale, the excitement on Facebook and Twitter became unreal. We knew we had to pull out all the stops.
Using CoverItLive we were able to host a live, moderated chat on a landing page off of the university's homepage.
From a functionality standpoint, the interface is very user-friendly. With a couple minutes and a couple clicks you are well on your way to getting started. One of the things I really liked was that you were able to customize the the look of chat window. So, in our case, I was able to change the color to a nice Tufts blue and throw a picture of the Bubs on the opening page. Once you have made those tweaks, given the session a name and hit OK, you are given an embed code to place whereever you chose.
On the days leading up to the finale, I found it to be a great tool for aggregating all of the great feedback the Bubs were getting on Twitter. In the left nav of the console there is a Twitter search function that made it easy to search the keyword "Bubs," see what was out there and pick and choose which entries I wanted to highlight.
Other tools in the left nav include a YouTube search for embedding videos into the chat, a quick poll feature that allows you to create a questionnaire that will immediately pop up in the display for people to use and a media library where you can upload pictures and other add-ons before hand for quick access during the live chat.
The live chat itself was definitely amazing and simple! Once embedded on the site, viewers could either log in through Twitter or other social media entities or simply type in a user name and start chatting. As the moderator, on my end I could see all the comments people were posting and chose whether or not I felt they were appropriate for posting.
The amazing part of it all was this organic sense of community that instantly formed. We had a couple dozen people actually chatting and many more just sitting back to watch. One of the best things I saw was when people started recognizing other peoples' names and asking, "hey, are you so and so from the class of '78?" And YES it was! Some people reconnected while others just enjoyed the company of strangers who shared their love for Tufts.
At the end, one of the chatters actually thanked us for hosting it, and that alone made it a success in my mind.
I look forward to using CoverItLive in the future. From popular lectures to sporting events to commencement, it will be interesting to try the tool in several different environments. If you think it could work for you, I highly recommend signing up for an account (it's FREE!) and playing around with their practice tool. Happy experimenting!