Thursday, April 23, 2020

Virtual Graduation 2020 - Ideas in the Time of #RemoteLearning

Graduation in 2020 will be unlike any graduation before it. While the thought of losing the traditional pomp and circumstance is difficult, there are some innovative options available. 

Face-to-Face Graduations

Drive-in movie theater

One district in Pennsylvania came up with an innovative approach to graduation. They are using a drive-in movie theater for the graduation. Students will get diplomas in person (one-by-one) or mailed home in accordance with the Center for Disease Control recommendations. 

Asynchronous Graduation 

Practice social distancing while embracing the traditional walk across the stage in cap and gown by setting up times for students to walk the stage individually prior to graduation day. Set up time slots for seniors to walk the stage (and household members to watch) and capture it via video. On graduation day, you'll have a great video for the school community to watch together. Clinton High School in Arkansas is taking this approach.

    Drive by Graduation Celebration

    Families can also get creative. Have your child suit up with cap and gown and have friends and family pass by at proper social distance or in cars with celebratory signs and/or balloons. You can see how that happened for one student in the video below.

    Virtual Graduations

    These five steps to a virtual commencement are a great start. It includes what should be prerecorded i.e. speaker addresses, National Anthem, creating slides for each graduate, and turning it all into a video. This can be done on various platforms such as Google, Microsoft, etc. Just make sure you have security controls in place.

    Considerations for Virtual Graduations

    If you are going to conduct a virtual graduation, check out this informative webinar from Teq that outlines what you should consider for virtual graduations. 

    You can also see the actual webinar with lots of resources Teq's Otis website.

    Virtual Graduation Platforms

    If you decide to go this route, you'll need to consider which platform you will use. To follow are some options.

    Microsoft's Virtual Graduation Toolkit

    In this toolkit as well as this virtual graduation guidance, Microsoft outlines how to incorporate online solutions ranging from PowerPoint presentations prepared by faculty/administrators with input and content from students, to hybrid live, recorded, and live-streamed ceremonies. 

    This webinar shows how to use Microsoft Live for virtual graduations. 

    YouTube Live and Google Meet 

    Check out the webinar below to see how to do virtual graduations using YouTube Live or Google Meet. 

    StreamYard to Livestream Graduation

    StreamYard is a live streaming studio in your browser. Interview guests, share your screen, and much more. Stream directly to Facebook, YouTube, Twitch, Periscope, LinkedIn, and other platforms. The stream is one way, so anyone in your community can view it. You can have up to ten presenters with six people on the screen at any time. Below you can hear my colleague Clay Smith and I discussing virtual graduation on StreamYard. Following that you can hear a tutorial from StreamYard on how to use their platform for a virtual graduation.

    Visit for a free trial and discount.


    How about a virtual graduation in Minecraft! Elementary school students in Japan created a Minecraft graduation. Inspired by that, college students took it to a new level. Fortnite is another option.
    Students on the stage, graduating in Minecraft


    Flipgrid can be a part of a virtual graduation. It has lots of suggestions for virtual graduations. For example, England’s Newcastle University Medical School celebrated its first-ever online graduation ceremony, where the graduating doctors in the Class of 2020 read aloud their Hippocratic Oath on Flipgrid.  Find out other innovative ideas at Flipgrid’s “Host a Virtual Graduation Ceremony” article.

    Partner with local television

    In places like Palm Beach County, they are broadcasting graduation on local television stations and the streaming on the district websiteStudent's names will be called and their picture will be displayed to mark this milestone. Students and their families will hear from speakers including their principal and classmates. Students and their families are encouraged to host a virtual watch party where they can invite friends and family to enjoy the celebration.

    Graduation Website

    If you are conducting virtual graduations, or even if you're doing something more traditional, creating a website is a great way to celebrate graduates. 
    Include things like:
    • Videos of student and guest speakers. 
    • Photos and information about each graduate in their cap and gown. 
    • A place for well wishes

    Get Social

    Celebrate each graduate on social media with specific information such as a quote, memory, what they'll miss, and what's next. Here's an example from a secondary school.

    Hire a company 

    If setting up a virtual graduation seems daunting for a school, there are companies that will help conduct a virtual graduation for about $2000 - $4000 depending on the package you pick. This might be a good idea for schools with big budgets that don't feel comfortable learning how to do this on their own.

    Your turn

    Do any of these ideas sound like good options for your school community? Are you doing something else? Please share in the comments.

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