As a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, many in-person activities switched to all-digital, and none were more impacted than educators. The question became how to keep people glued to the screen and somehow put on an engaging show. In this Creator Spotlight, we wanted to highlight Gary David, also known on Twitch as ProfessorEXP, professor of Sociology at Bentley University. Gary has been incorporating new tools into his online classes over the last few months to enhance the learning experience. We sat down with him to learn a little more about him, and how Elgato has assisted him in reaching new heights as a content creator.
Hi Gary. Please introduce yourself.
My name is Gary David, and I’ve been a professor at my current school for twenty-two years. I teach a lot of different topics, focusing a lot on the intersection of Business and Arts and Sciences. I like to emphasize creativity, design, and innovation in my courses, always looking for new approaches that break the mold and push boundaries in learning experiences. I am also an educational streamer on Twitch under the name ProfessorEXP. I'm part of a broader collective of EDU streamers known as The Knowledge Fellowship. In my personal time, I love trail running, cross-country skiing, cycling, and playing video games to explore them from social science perspectives.
For those who don’t know, what exactly are Sociology and Information Design?
Sociology is about studying social dynamics, whether between people or cultures (and everything in between). Information Design looks at how we design information and experiences. I started studying sociology back in 1988 as a freshman in college. I was immediately hooked. I loved the big picture perspective, how it focused on trying to change and improve communities and societies.
Our program focuses on user experience, but I also examine learning experiences, customer experiences, employee experiences, and patient experiences. Both sociology and information design are about trying to make things better for people in their daily lives.
How has the COVID pandemic and teleteaching changed the way you teach?
In some ways, nothing changed. Good teaching is still teaching, wherever it happens. The goal is getting the students to connect and engage with the material, stimulating their thoughts, and getting them to think about things they may have never considered. Learning should be fun as well.
That can be different online. So I had to think about how to engage young audiences in an online environment. As a result, I turned to Twitch for inspiration given that it is all about viewer engagement of typically younger audiences. I started studying educational streaming and gamers and others to get ideas about how I could create better learning experiences in streaming environments.
How were you introduced to Elgato and/or Stream Deck?
You can’t learn about live streaming without learning about Elgato and its products! Educators are often looking for tools to create better engagement for their students. But the Elgato products can help to change the way we think about that engagement, creating new opportunities for more enjoyable learning. Elgato helps me to think about education and streaming from a more theatrical and production value perspective. Plus the audio and video quality I can achieve makes it easier for students to listen and pay attention.
On a daily basis, how do you use Stream Deck?
My Stream Deck is the cornerstone of my Twitch stream. I can’t imagine trying to create engaging and meaningful experiences without it. From basics like changing scenes and other functions like sound effects, video clips and GIFs, to marking parts of the video and making clips, the Stream Deck makes it easier for me to reach my educational vision.
I’m also exploring how to use Stream Deck to share information directly with students. I can make it easier for students to get readings and other online content by programming folders right into the Stream Deck. I can set up a whole semester in a Stream Deck file, share it with my students (and audience), and they just hit a button and get it. It just makes the student experience that much better.
What are some of your favorite actions and plugins?
I’m still learning all the different features, so I’m pretty basic at this point. Moving between scenes to create different visual engagements is such a joy. Plus students get a real kick when they hear little sound effects. I’ve created different humorous scenes from movies and pop culture to emphasize different points to create more memorable learning experiences and hopefully better learning. I spend a lot of time watching other streamers and videos to get inspiration on what I could be doing differently. The process of innovation and creativity is made possible by tools to turn my vision into a reality.
How do you see content creation and education meshing in the future?
We need to stop thinking of teaching as just the old models of delivery. There might be a place for that approach, but we need more tools in the toolbox. There are so many tools from Twitch, YouTube, TikTok, Twitter, and just the old-fashioned classroom. There are great IRL streamers who are doing wonderful educational streams out in the world. Schools and instructors need to think more broadly beyond just the classroom and students, to streaming and learners. Make the experience more enriching based on the technological opportunities that we now have. Elgato helps to be the glue that pulls these opportunities together and makes them possible.
Where can we find your content?
You can find me on Twitch. I also have a podcast called Experience by Design, which you can listen to wherever you get podcasts. You also can find me on Discord and YouTube, which are still under development but with my new integration through Elgato, I hope to have more operations soon!