Dallas Independent School District is located in northern Texas and serves a population of roughly 6.5 million people. They are the second-largest public school district in the state of Texas and is the 14th-largest district in the United States. Dallas ISD serves approximately 154,000 students in 230 schools and employs 22,000 faculty and staff members. Dallas ISD’s Communication Services Department started working with MyVRSpot in December 2019 as a Live Broadcasting customer. We met with a few key individuals within the Communication Services Department to discuss how they have used MyVRSpot to support their community.
What was the original goal?
Dallas ISD originally started using the MyVRSpot service because they were looking for a live broadcasting solution. They had been relying on other services but ran into several roadblocks, from prohibitive pricing to copyright issues. Carmen Alvarado-Vasquez, the Manager of Dallas Schools TV, said that they needed a way to live stream their graduations and other events. “We live stream our graduations. We had been using another service and it was affordable, but at one point the cost of it became ridiculous. As a school district, we had to figure out how we can show graduations but also be fiscally responsible with the budget the district gives us.” Alex Voss, the Chief Engineer of Dallas Schools TV, added “We used another service but they adopted a corporate mentally that we couldn’t work with. It was dependable but the price was too high and service too low.”
Both Carmen and Alex brought up the copyright issues they faced with other streaming services. YouTube and Facebook, although free, were a challenge because they constantly monitor rights and royalties for music. Dallas ISD was careful to make sure they paid for the content they used during a stream but still had streams abruptly turned off by these streaming services. “Graduations use Pomp and Circumstance, so streaming a graduation on Facebook or YouTube is nearly impossible because they’ll turn off your stream,” Alex explained.
How does MyVRSpot address those needs?
According to both Carmen and Alex, they have had a lot of success using MyVRSpot to address their Live Broadcasting needs. Graduations, virtual community meetings, superintendent messages, and other events have all been streamed using MyVRSpot and OBS. They have expanded their usage of MyVRSpot, now utilizing some of their other services, such as their Closed Captioning, foreign language translation, media storage, and digital signage solutions. Alex expressed how pleased he was with MyVRSpot’s Customer Support, stating that “whenever we have an issue we call up and find out what we’ve done wrong and learn from it. Everyone is very friendly and helpful.”
News of MyVRSpot success has spread as other users within Dallas ISD have started using MyVRSpot as well. A teacher at a local elementary school began using MyVRSpot’s Live Broadcasting solution to connect with students during the pandemic. He is now also using MyVRSpot’s digital signage solution, which enables him to add and remove live broadcasts, videos, audio files, and images to TV screens throughout the building. Another school purchased MyVRSpot accounts for their staff and teachers so that they can create and manage instructional media.
One example of a live streamed event is Dallas ISD’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Oratory Competition. This competition was created to encourage the development of writing and public speaking skills in 4th and 5th grade students. This event has taken place every year since 1993 and “serves as a celebration of cultural diversity and opportunity to spotlight talented Dallas ISD students as they learn about Dr. King.” This year’s competition looked a little different than in previous years due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Dallas ISD partnered with a production company and live streamed the event using MyVRSpot, since having an in-person audience was not possible. On January 15, 2021, eight finalists delivered their speeches on the topic “How do you think Dr. King’s Teaching can help us today?” The staff at MyVRSpot kept an eye on the event to ensure a smooth live broadcast and we were all impressed and moved by the mature, thoughtful, and articulate speeches written and delivered by these young speakers.
When asked about their experiences using MyVRSpot, both Carmen and Alex were very positive and complimentary. MyVRSpot serves as a “one stop shop” -- not only are you live broadcasting, but that broadcast is captured and saved to be shared out after the fact. You can then caption and translate that recording and display it on a digital sign. This comes in handy when you have so many live streaming viewers. Last year alone, Dallas ISD had over 25,000 people view their broadcasts.
Alex also remarked that he was very happy with MyVRSpot’s customer service. “When I call on the phone, I get somebody. That is huge, absolutely huge when it comes to my feeling of security with a company. In broadcasting, you can’t just wait around for days for an answer.” With reliability, affordability, and great customer support, it’s easy to see why Dallas ISD chose MyVRSpot for their live broadcasting needs.