Teaching via livestreaming

We’ve all done a lot of teaching via Zoom, but the CodeRefinery livestream is a new concept. This introduces teachers/helpers to the idea (and for a detailed reference, see CodeRefinery MOOC strategy).


Watch a demo on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WjmttAniZX8. (When watching, also carefully read the video description/chapter titles, which provide more the explanation of what is going on).

Compared to Zoom teaching:

  • You are in a Zoom meeting with only instructors/staff

  • Someone (not you) captures this meeting and broadcasts it via livestream to all the audience.

  • The audience can’t directly talk with you (but when there is a large audience, who does anyway?). Instead, always say things like “What do you think? Write in the HackMD. [proceed to screenshare it and discuss answers]”

  • You don’t need to worry much about managing the audience. Others do this and relay information as you need. You should pay more attention to HackMD.

Basic meeting setup

There is an “instructor Zoom meeting”. There are no students here, and everything can and will be captured, recorded, published, and livestreamed.

  • In the call are instructors, the Zoom host, and possibly some other helpers who might occasionally comment.

  • The cameras of instructors are captured via Zoom gallery view. This is show as both a “teacher view” as well as “overlay on screenshare”.

  • If you have your camera off, you will not appear in the stream. So turn your camera off when you are in the instructor meeting but not presenting. Ask others, but in principle it is fine to join, stay hidden, and interact when relevant.

  • During the breaks/exercise times, the livestream itself (via OBS) gets muted and switched to another scene. So, you are free to unmute, talk, and chat with other instructors. This is a great way to relax and prepare for the next segments! This actually lowers the pressure to pre-plan every part in advance.

  • By the same token, you can join the meeting during the previous break to get all set up.

  • Zulipchat serves as the overall connection between the different parts of the course and instructor backchannel. This is the least important place for the current active instructor to watch (but might be useful for a co-instructor or expert helper to occasionally check).


You can share your screen normally via Zoom. The livestream is fixed to an aspect ratio of 840 pixels wide × 1080 pixels high (this is so that the learner has half of their screen available). You can not do a full landscape live-coding follow-along screenshare (nor is this good practice in other workshops).

  • In Zoom, you can either share one window or Advanced → Share a portion of the screen → move the overlay to a portrait view. Don’t worry about making it exactly 840×1080, OBS automatically fits it and we can adjust it during the setup time.

  • If you have a landscape presentation (as opposed to live coding), just share your whole screen, and the OBS operator will scale things properly if it doesn’t automatically work. Note that the 4:3 aspect ratio is better than 16:9, but that usually has black bars on the side. This can be removed via OBS.

  • Don’t stop screenshare unexpectedly - wait for the broadcaster to switch to gallery view. If you stop screenshare unexpectedly, the stream reverts to someone picture full-screen. Because of Zoom “dual-monitor mode”, sharing screen does not prevent the gallery from showing.

HackMD and audience feedback

HackMD (or similar document-based things) is our preferred communication system. The biggest problem is that it is too useful, and too many people ask questions, which will easily overload you. To solve this, we have co-teachers (non-typer can watch HackMD), HackMD helpers (watch and answer basic questions).

There are several general strategies:

  • Occasionally screenshare the HackMD. This emphasizes to the audience that questions there do get noticed.

  • Rely on other helpers to answer most questions.

  • During Q&A time, go to the HackMD and comment on the most important questions.

  • Call on co-teachers, “do we have any good questions from HackMD?”

  • Co-teachers should be more than willing to interrupt with relevant questions right away.

You can’t use Zoom polls and so on. Instead, use HackMD cleverly. For example, below you see a poll (people add o to make a bar graph), and a free response:

Have you used HackMD before?
yes: oooooooo
no:  oooo

What do you like about it?
- answer
- answer
- .
- .
- .