Teaching Tip: How can a Stream Deck help with your synchronous (live online) class sessions?

One of my favorite pieces of hardware for teaching live online is the Stream Deck. The Elgato Stream Deck is a small control panel with 15 customizable physical buttons that be easily set to do a variety of tasks. The Stream Deck plugs into a USB port and will work with Windows or Mac operating systems. With the Stream Deck, you can send messages in a chat window, start a program, play sounds, share links to documents, or other tasks with just the push of a button.

photo of a Stream Deck device.
15-button Stream Deck from Elgato.com

When holding a class live online via Zoom, Teams Meetings, or any other streaming platform, there is a lot going on. The instructor has to present material, answer student questions, and more. The Stream Deck puts 15+ buttons at your fingertips to quickly perform task that would have taken much longer without the one-button convenience.

What you can do with a Stream Deck during a live online class

Here is a list of Stream Deck buttons that may help you with your live online classes:

  1. Document links: If you are sharing a document during class, you can add that document link to a button and then share it with students. Even if students ask for the document link (latecomers, etc.) throughout the session, it is easy to reshare – just a one button click on the Stream Deck.
  2. Text: This is probably the button I use the most on my Stream Deck. I will type in it announcements that I am likely to share multiple times in the chat room in a given class session. For example, the polling software that I use most frequently requires that I give students a six-digit code each class day. I program a text button on my Stream Deck every morning to be “Today’s Session ID is ######; enter it at http://website-name.com.” Each day, I just update the ###### with that day’s six-digit code and then can share it throughout class with the touch of just one button.
  3. Website links: You can share any website URL with a button. I use this function when I am sharing Padlet links or Whiteboard links with my students, for example. I also use this button function when I am showing students where they can get additional information about a topic.
  4. Sound effect clips: There are a variety of sounds that I have ready for class. Here are some of the sound clips I use at various points during class:
    • Ding (to signal that I have put a polling question up)
    • Crickets (when no students answer a question I have posed)
    • Ticking clock (when time is ending to answer a polling question)
    • Drum roll (to get attention when I have an announcement)
    • Applause (to recognize a good contribution)
  5. Timer: I have a timer button set to count down to the end of class. I can tell at a glance how much time remains in class. Hint: I also use the timer function when I am presenting in a webinar.
  6. Days Until ______: This plugin allows you to put in a certain date and the button will display how many days to go until that date. I put the last day of the semester in my Days Until button and occasionally I will ask students how many days remain in the semester.
  7. Emoji picker: You can assign your favorite emojis to Stream Deck buttons.
  8. World Time: If you have students in different time zones, you can have that time display on a Stream Deck button.
  9. Open App: You can have a button open any application or file.

How to get started with an Elgato Stream Deck

You can purchase the Elgato Stream Deck directly from Elgato or Amazon or other retailers. Setup is straightforward and easy when following the included instructions. Once you get the Stream Deck installed, you can then begin to select the functions you would like to install. Some functions are built-in, while others can be downloaded from the Elgato Store at no cost.

Happy Stream Decking!

About Dr. Wendy Tietz, CPA, CMA, CSCA, CGMA

Dr. Wendy Tietz is a professor of accounting at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio, USA. She is also a textbook author with Pearson Education.

One Response to “Teaching Tip: How can a Stream Deck help with your synchronous (live online) class sessions?”

  1. Thanks Wendy. I am going to give it a go. Stream Deck sounds like it would work great for some of my classes.

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