Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Using Screencasts for Teaching and Learning

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Last week I ran a workshop on Using Screencasts to Enhance Teaching and Learning. This is a summary of what we covered.

What is screencasting?
  • A screencast is a digital video recording that captures actions taking place on a computer desktop.
  • Screencasts, which often contain voice-over narration, are useful for demonstrating how to use specific operating systems, software applications or website features.


Examples of screencasting:

Here’s an example of a 'how-to' guide from the university library: which is on their YouTube channel along with many others.

You can also use screencasting to provide summaries of your lectures, such as this example from Dr Paul Reilly of the Department of Media and Communications:

Dr Reilly has carried out research into the effectiveness of screencasting, and you can see the details of his research, further research, some examples, and guides to screencasting on the Screencasting in Media Studies project blog.

Screencasting can also be used to provide feedback on assessments to students. Such as in this example from Jodi Whitehurst at Arkansas State University:

She describes the process of creating her screencasts here:

Why should you use screencasting?

Because students like it, basically. The research shows that:
  • students think it enhances their learning
  • they can learn at their own pace
  • they can catch up on missed classes
  • summaries of lectures are useful for students for whom English is not their first language.
You can also use it for a ‘flipped classroom’ approach - providing discussion materials before a lecture or seminar so students have already thought about the issues before they arrive.

One research study found that it leads to improved achievement on assignment marks: Quantifying the benefits of narrated screen capture videos.

How do you create screencasts?
The university provides some software via the Programme Installer:

Captivate also enables you to create interactive content such as tests and quizzes, in addition to screencasting.

Presenter works within PowerPoint to create narrated presentations. However, it also comes with Video Creator, which is a stand-alone programme that allows you to record anything on your screen. You can add narration if you wish. It also allows you to create ‘talking head’ style videos via your webcam.

Screencasts with Panopto
You can use the Panopto lecture capture software to do screencasts - it will record whatever is on your screen, not just your PowerPoint presentations and lectures. At the moment the software is limited to those members of staff involved in the pilot study, but you can request access to it via IT services.

Free online screencasting tools
Screencast-O-Matic is an easy to use free application that records anything on your screen
You can save your videos to your PC, or upload them directly to YouTube. The free version places a small ‘screencast-o-matic' logo at the bottom of your video. The Premium version (paid for) removes the logo and gives you some editing tools.

Screenr is another free web based application. It allows you to create screencasts up to five minutes long.

Snagit for Chrome is a free app and extension for the Chrome browser. It's a version of Snagit screen capture software. Download both the app and the extension, and you can create screencasts, capture still images, and create gifs via the Chrome browser.

Snagit is a very good screencasting application. You will have to pay for it, but it’s quite cheap. Try a trial version first. It allows you to create screencapture videos, and images which you can then annotate. A single licence costs about £30. There are volume discounts for educational purposes if you want to buy licences for your department.

Photo credit: James Vaughan 1963 television eyeglasses (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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