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From Virtual Worship to Solidarity by Screen: The Best Tools to Keep you Connected

28 Apr 2020

The way we work and communicate has changed dramatically in recent months due to the ongoing pandemic. Although we are not allowed to leave our homes except for the most essential things like caring for our relatives or grocery shopping, we are communicating more than ever online – finding new ways to keep working and worshipping.

Many religious and community leaders are leading the way by connecting with their communities through streaming services, conference applications and other online tools. Below are some of the best free and paid resources if you are looking to move your services online, or are in need of more tools for optimising your work and reaching a broader audience.

 

KAICIID maintains this article to enhance public access to online tools only. While we have tried to find the most timely and accurate information on the following services, we can make no guarantees and assume no responsibility or liability for the accuracy or completeness of the information, nor for the availability, quality or usability of the services. The services are listed in no particular order. KAICIID is not associated with any of the services and did not receive remuneration for bringing them to your attention.

 

For those who are streaming religious services, lectures, or discussions there are many resources online that are easy to use, and optimised for reaching large audiences. Many of them are subscription based, but some also offer free or trial versions with basic features. Below are the resources most often used by KAICIID and its friends.

 

Stream Yard

Stream Yard is an application for streaming religious services, webinars etc. to a broad audience. It can stream on multiple platforms simultaneously, and can include interviews, show viewer comments and questions on screen and even the logo of your organization. It is a great tool for broadcasting on television, Youtube and Facebook.

Best for: Broadcasting across multiple platforms or television simultaneously, as well as live production that includes interviews, discussion and multimedia.

 

Facebook Live

This application allows you to stream live on Facebook through your page, and followers can comment, like and share as with any other media on the platform. Additionally, you can customise the audience and schedule the videos to promote them ahead of time.

Best for: People and organizations who have most of their audience engagement on Facebook.

 

Youtube Live

Youtube Live is a tool for streaming from an established Youtube channel, and can be adjusted to open or closed sessions. It has standard functions such as pre-scheduling, recording and live questions and answers from the audience. It also has some unique features such as adjustable stream quality, added delay, live automatic captions and location tags.

Best for: People with a large Youtube audience and captioning in different languages.

 

Vimeo Live

Vimeo live is a highly customizable live streaming service. There is no free version, however, there are several cost tiers offering different professional features. These include advanced streaming tools such as 4k, archiving, pro graphics and advanced video editing tools.

Best for: Professional quality streaming and editing.

 

 

Skype

Skype is one of the most popular video call and messaging services. It has browser and app versions and is great for video conferences on all devices, including Alexa. It offers standard features like live subtitles, recording and background blurring and can call landlines for a fee.

Best for: Small gatherings and meetings, as well as connecting to people via landline.

 

Zoom

Zoom is among the most popular tools in the world for holding video conferences. It is especially good for linking teams who are working remotely, and can include up to 100 people on a call. In the free version, calls are limited to 45 minutes, but offers screen sharing, customizable backgrounds, HD video and audio, host controls, scheduled meetings and private and group chat. It also allows hosting of online events.

Best for: Calls and conferences with many participants.

 

Google Hangouts:

This is a great tool for meetings and individual conversations, but also for recorded services or lectures, as well as integration with other Google applications and workflows.

Best for: Google account users who can integrate it into their existing workflow.

 

FreeConference

FreeConference is ideal for smaller teams or meetings with five or fewer participants. It is a download-free application, so participants can join via a link without the app. It offers other standard features such as moderator controls, screen and document sharing and text chat.

Best for: Small meetings and people who don’t want to download an application

 

Lifesize Go

Lifesize Go is a meeting application with the standard online meeting features, but also offers 4k resolution meetings as well as end-to-end encryption. Lifesize also has a line of meeting devices that integrate with their app such as cameras and microphones. The free version offers no restriction on meeting lengths.

Best for: Conferences in 4k resolution, those needing end-to-end encryption, or anyone looking to purchase an all-inclusive conference service.

 

 

Dropbox

Dropbox is an easy-to-use service for cloud-based file sharing. It also has a desktop application that syncs with online folders.

Mailchimp

Mailchimp is an online email messaging service for large audiences. The free version allows up to 2,000 contacts, analytics, and an intuitive interface for designing mass emails such as newsletters, donation drives and calls to action.

Evernote

Evernote is a personal organisation software that offers features for note taking, personal organization, collaboration, document filing and advanced clipping and scanning tools.

Media.io

Media.io is an online media converter. This is useful for converting or resizing video and audio into different formats or optimising for sharing and uploading to the web.

Squoosh

Squoosh is a browser-based image resizing application. It is made for resizing images and optimising them for websites to decrease loading times without major reductions in image quality.

Google Drive

Google Drive is a suite of office tools such as slide-based presentation software, a document editor, spreadsheets and many more for free online. The service is very intuitive and built for collaboration and requires no application download.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is an essential tool for tracking website engagement and audience behaviour. The highly advanced suite of tools has a steep learning curve, but is essential in understanding your audience and how to better serve their content consumption needs.