Confession: I’m not an influencer or a big YouTube star. I’m not even that big of YouTube user (though man it is a great place to find out how to cut up all your vegetables and fix your washing machine.)
So, when Microsoft released Stream into the Office 365 suite of tools, I didn’t exactly have a burning desire to get in and figure out how it worked. In the past I’ve just posted videos to places like websites or shared folders. Seems pretty easy and straight forward and generally kept everything under my control.
When I did wander over and take a look, I would quickly get confused or lost. There are also a bunch of rabbit holes that I would get sucked into only to emerge from still confused hours later. Consequently, I’ve mostly kept quiet about the tool and focused instead on other ways of using and sharing video.
However, over the past month, I’ve been playing around in Microsoft Stream more and more and I am happy to report that it is a pretty great tool. During that time I’ve begun to untangle the layers of terminology and permission structures which has helped me begin to wrap my mind around how it can be used to support powerful learning.
Below is my first attempt to share some of that learning with y’all. It is just a beginning, and I have intentionally kept the focus on understanding how Stream is set up and how you can use Stream to organize and share videos created inside of Teams.
If You Don’t Have the Time to Read the Whole Thing
There is a lot here. If you want to read a condensed version you can go here and I’ve also created the following checklists to help guide you through the set up:
So What is Microsoft Stream Anyway?
Like YouTube and Vimeo, Microsoft Stream is a platform designed to help users store, view and share videos. It also offers tools and ways to organize and present those videos with different groups of users.
All platforms try to find a way to distinguish themselves and Stream is no different. Microsoft has added a few cool features to help Stream differentiate itself. Auto-generated transcripts (that also allow users to skip to a particular spot in a video) and integration with Microsoft Forms are two features that are pretty cool.
Microsoft also set Stream to be used in a unique way compared to other tools like YouTube and Vimeo. Which leads us to…
Sharing is Kind of Hard (and That’s On Purpose)
In YouTube, sharing is easy on purpose. They want to support you in getting your videos in front of the eyeballs of as many people as possible. Sure, you can choose to keep a video or channel private but for the most part all you have to do is upload and start sharing.
Microsoft Stream was made to used inside of an organization and to protect the intellectual property of those organizations.
Consequently they locked down Stream. You can’t grab a share link and plaster to all corners of the internet. CORRECTION: you can do that but those links won’t work for people. The reason for this is that those links will only work for users signed into the Office 365 tenant of the org where they were made.
This is just how it works.
In an education environment this is actually pretty cool because it does create a wall around the video work of teachers and students. Sure it would be great if we could all become internet famous but it also makes it harder for us to become internet infamous (not impossible just harder 🙂
One other consequence of this is that the default settings for sharing videos are pretty much locked down to the creator of the video and you have to work a bit to make sure others can see it.
So before you head on into Stream, here are a couple of things to know and keep in mind.
Groups: Inside of Stream small gatherings of users are called groups. This is the organizing unit inside of Stream. The members of the group have permission to view the videos that are part of that group. This is the basic permission structure and locks down video sharing pretty tightly. Each group has the ability to add and create videos just for that group to view.
Every Team has a Corresponding Group in Stream: If you’ve made a Team there is a group hanging out in Stream that has the exact same members as are in Team. This makes a lot of sense since Teams are where a lot of the interaction and work is taking place. It’s kind of like each Team gets it own TV station. The best part of this is that if you create a video inside a Team it is stored inside the corresponding group in Stream and all the members of that team have permission to view it.
Channels: Inside of Stream, you have the ability to organize the videos in your group into what are called Channels. Each group can have multiple channels and can add videos to more than one channel in that group. However, and this is important, channels in a Stream group are not permission structures. Sharing a channel outside the group is not going to grant the ability to view the videos. You will need to go into permissions for each video and manage things there.
Also, Channels in Stream are NOT the same as Channels in Teams: Yes this is confusing and annoying that they did this. Sorry about that but you will need to just begin thinking of them like you do other homonyms. They sound the same but mean different things.
Permissions are Kind of Tricky: Again, this is a bit annoying but if you read on below hopefully I’ll be able to shed some light on things. Here’s one quick tip though: Permission happens at the individual video level.
Getting Into Stream
Before tackling permissions though, let’s talk about getting into Stream. This is actually pretty easy and there are multiple ways to get there.
The easiest and most straight forward way to get there is to log into Office.com and click the Stream button on your dashboard. This will take you into the Stream experience.
Once there you will see there is a lot going on. Here are a couple of landmarks to help you figure out where to go.
At the top of the screen you will see a menu bar and one of the options is My Content.
This is the place to start.
Your options from My Content are as follows:
My Videos – This will take you to a list view of all the videos you’ve created in Stream. You can quickly edit and share from this screen, so it is good place to start.
My Groups – More on this below, but clicking on this will bring up a grid view of all the Stream Groups that you are an owner or member of. Also a good place to start.
My Channels – You’re probably seeing a pattern here. My Channels will take you to a grid view of all the channels you’ve created or have access to as a member of a group. More on what channels are below.
Yes, I get it, technology is supposed to make things more efficient and wouldn’t it be great if what I said above wasn’t true and you could easily manage permissions by creating a space where you dump videos and that place just added the permissions according to how I set up the place (you know, like a OneDrive folder that has been set to anyone with the link can edit.)
Unfortunately that isn’t really true in Stream.
Essentially you have to manage the permission of each video individually.
Here’s how permissions work.
By default a video added to a group or created in a group (or in the mirror Team) is set so that only the members of that group (or mirror team) can view the video and that’s it.
This is a limited setting and Stream is smart enough to figure out you want the group to be able to see it.
So what about sharing with multiple groups?
Good question, you have to do this, on a video by video basis (yeah, you get the message) AND for each video you have to tell Stream which groups have permission to watch the video (besides the group where the video was created.) This is only true if you want the video available to other groups outside the group where the video was created.
To do this you will find the video inside of Stream and click on the pencil. This will open a series of panels that let you edit the permissions. You’ll want to focus on the middle panel.
Here you’ll see a list of places and people who have access to the video. Underneath the Allow everyone in your company to view this video (more on that in a second) you’ll see a tiny Share with box. This is set to Groups but you can choose to add channels and people here too.
You can add groups by searching for them in the little query box next to where it says My Groups. Once you find a group you can click to add the group. This will give all the groups permission to view the video.
Below I will walk through how to create a video in one Team and make it available in your other teams but for now just think:
Video gets into a group and then once it’s there you have to go into the settings for that video and add the other groups you want to see it.
You can also just say screw it and make the video available to everyone in the Issaquah School District Office tenant.
That’s right. You can be famous amongst dozens if you want and it can be done with just the push of a button (actually two buttons, but they’re right next to each other.)
Essentially what you do is give everyone permission to view your video, which also means they can add it to channels in their groups if they want.
This isn’t that crazy a proposition. You are essentially sending it out just to our school district but you will certainly want to consider carefully if making it easier on yourself is worth having anybody from Issaquah School District be able to view the video.
This is called company wide sharing and as I said it is incredibly easy (as you can see below.) Once that is checked clicking the share button will give you a link that can be pasted in all of your Teams and you won’t have to mess with adding groups.
Scenarios for Using in Teams
Now I’m going to walk you through three different scenarios for creating a video inside of Teams and sharing it with all the right people. I’ve included a checklist to walk you through the steps for each one.
So you’ve made up one Team to rule them all (or at least to get all of your students in one place) and you’d like to start posting some video to the class. Here’s what you need to do (it’s very straight forward and doesn’t really involve going into Stream at all.)
Follow these directions to make sure you are ready go and then head to the team, start a meeting and press record. When you’re done stop the recording.
You’re pretty much done at this point. You’ll have to wait a bit for the video to process.
When it is done, you can walk away or you can draw attention to it by clicking on the three dots next to the video (it will show up in the conversation of the meeting you just recorded) and then choose to make it a tab or grab the link and post it as a new conversation in that Team
Across the Universe of All Your Teams
For this scenario, you have a universe of teams and you want to record a video in one place and share it in all those teams. This gets a little trickier than the super team model.
However, you have two options.
The Easy Path
Remember that button I mentioned above that let’s record a video and make it available to everyone in our ISD tenant? That is the easy path for this scenario and is even easier than what I showed above.
After you’ve created the video (in any team) there will be a thumbnail that appears in the conversation of the meeting. Click on the three dots and choose Share from the menu. You will be prompted to make sure you want to make it available company wide. Choose yes, and then on then ext screen copy the link.
Now you can go and paste that link in all of your teams (or you can use the Post In Multiple Channels feature and just make one post that shows up in all of your teams.)
The Handcrafted Approach
Now the reality is that you might not want your videos available to everyone in the ISD. If that’s you here is what you need to do. This does involve heading into Stream and will get into the nitty-gritty of the permissions described above.
So by now you know the drill, record your video in Teams and then wait for it finish processing.
Once it’s ready head over to Stream, find the video (My Content > Videos) and click the pencil next to the video. This will open up the settings window with the three panels. In the center permissions panel, click into the query box next to where it says My Groups. Search for your other groups (or mirror Teams) and click on it when it comes up. This will add it to the list below. Groups are indicated by an orange lock next to the name of the group. Repeat this for each of the rest of your groups (or mirror Teams.) Click apply when you’re all done.
You’re not quite done though. This will close the settings window and show you the page for the video. You’ll want to grab the share link while you’re here. Copy that and then paste into all those teams of yours (as a new conversation or use that Post in Multiple Channels trick I showed you above.)