Building engagement with Microsoft Stream

Every person likes to engage in different ways. Some like to read blogs, just like you good people. Others like to watch videos, but pushing a video doesn’t give you reciprocal engagement, where users can provide feedback on your content during the actual stream.

Before I get into how Microsoft Stream can help to solve this issue, let's provide a little background. Microsoft Stream is effectively your organisational equivalent of YouTube. It allows you to upload and stream videos from an environment that is fully governed by all of protection you have in place for the rest of your data. This means that you have an alternative to pushing our your quarterly update out into the public domain when really you only want people internal to your organisation to view it.

Microsoft Stream ships as part of most Office 365 licencing options, with the only exceptions being the lower end of the Small Business SKUs. If you have an Enterprise E3 or E5 license, then you can start to have some real fun with Stream. When a video is uploaded, it will be processed and will automatically have a transcription created for you. I'll caveat this by saying that it's not perfect, and it's worth having a read through before you publish it, but it's a lot better than having to do it all yourself!

So now we know a little bit more about Microsoft Stream, let's have a look at how we can build engagement.

Using Microsoft Forms with Stream

Microsoft Stream, in my opinion, doesn't get the hype that it deserves as a tool which can be hugely beneficial to an organisation. I have used it in the past for hosting training videos, let's say a video on how to use Microsoft Teams. My video will run from start to finish, and by the time someone gets to the end of that video I can rest easy knowing that the viewer has assimilated all of that information and is going out there to be a Teams guru. Or can I? How do I know this?

Well the simple answer is that I can pair the functionality of Microsoft Forms and have that embedded into Microsoft Stream so that I can get feedback, or test knowledge before, during and after the video. This allows you to build engagement throughout your video, for example asking questions after a specific part of your video to confirm understanding, or by placing a Form at the end of the video to collect feedback.

The first thing I need to do is head across to Microsoft Forms and create a Form or  Quiz which I want to use with my video.
Once I have my Form, I need to grab the URL which will allow users to submit responses, which can be found by clicking on the Share button in the top right corner of the screen, and then copying the URL beneath the heading "Send and collect responses".
Once I have that URL, I can return back to Microsoft Stream. 

Using Forms in Stream

When we go and watch our video in Microsoft Stream, there is an area next to the video display which normally has two tabs. The first is the transcript of the video, the second is called Interactivity. This is where I can add my Forms.
As you can see from the screenshot I have an option at add a Form, which when selected will prompt me for three things:
  1. Form URL: This is the URL for the users to complete the form, i.e. the URL that we previously copied from Microsoft Forms
  2. Name your form: This is the "friendly" name that you want your form to be known as in Microsoft Stream
  3. Position on Timeline: This is the time index that you want your interaction to appear. This is selected by moving the timeline slider within the video to the relevant point.
So if I want my Form to appear straight away, I will move the slider to the very start of the video, and then add my Form. Then, when anyone views the video, the first they will be presented with is the Form, and then they can continue on with the video.
This can be done a number of times throughout your video and allows you to capture a lot of information back from your users at key points. Just keep in mind, however, that the more forms and quizzes you place in, the more it is going to break up your video, so make sure that you don't stop the natural flow of your content.

This functionality works quite well, but be aware of the limitations of this functionality.

Current Issues

One thing that is worth being aware of, is that the desktop experience is much more evolved that the mobile experience when it comes to using Stream and Microsoft Forms. When being viewed within the browser, the Form can be loaded seamlessly, however when working on the Microsoft Stream mobile app, I have observed one of two behaviours. The first is that the mobile app will prompt you to open a mobile browser to complete the Form, or alternatively I have seen an error saying "something went wrong, please try again later".

So key thing to be aware of, is how your users are going to be accessing and interacting with your content.

Finally...

Microsoft Stream is your organisational equivalent of YouTube where you can post corporate videos safe in the knowledge that you are inside the Office 365 wire. Microsoft Stream is available to all O365 licenses levels except for the lower end Small Business SKUs which means that the functionality is there for almost all organisations to exploit.

In You need to create forms and quizzes within the Microsoft Forms application first of all, and then copy the Collect responses URL across into Microsoft Stream. When we add our "interactivity" to our Stream video, we need to provide a URL to a Form, a display name, and the time index at which point the form will show. The index is as simple as using the slider on the bottom of the video to select the correct point.

Once the viewer reaches that time index, the Stream will pause, and the form will be displayed. This functionality is much better through a browser, whereby the form will load within the same screen as the video. The functionality is slightly behind in the the mobile app, where it prompt the viewer to open a browser to complete the form.

All in all, a good way of being able to gain feedback from a viewer while they are actively watching the video, just make sure that you don't overload with forms and therefore break the flow of the content.

I hope you found this blog useful, and as always, feedback is very much welcome.

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