How I use Screencasts for Teaching & Learning

I've dabbled with screencasting for several years, but over the last month or so my use of screencasting has increased. Subsequently, I've had lots of positive feedback from students so I thought I'd share some of the ways in which I've found this method of communication useful.

Original Post date: 16-Dec-2017

What screencasts have to offer

Less time spent repeating key information - If you've ever found yourself repeating the same content or advice on multiple occasions to the same students or maybe from one cohort to the next then screencasting can offer a means of recording short bursts of content that students can be signposted towards.

Provide short summaries of key topic areas - These could be used to deliver content prior to a session, or to ensure that key concepts from a session are fully understood and not lost in a longer complex session.

Students are able to learn at their own pace - In addition to providing clarity on key topics, they can also be used to cover more content than you might cover in a "normal" ten minute period due to the fact that students can re-watch or slow down the video as they watch it online.

A task for students to complete as an assessment - For several years now colleagues and I have embedded a screencast in a year two BEd Phys Ed module. It's worked really well as a way of assessing complex knowledge and understanding but also introduces emerging professional educators how they might be able to produce their own resources for teaching and learning.

How to make a Screencast

There are a range of tools to use that include licensed software and free to use applications. It's not essential to have a webcam but you will need to make sure you have a decent microphone and this might require the use of a headset or a webcam.

Here are three screencast applications that I've used:

Screencast-o-matic - Free to use application that allows the user to draw a square on the screen and record everything within that space. You need to pay to "Go Pro" to remove the watermark and have access to advanced editing features but you can do a lot with the free version.

Screencastify - Click here for the Marjon MeLT team's TELKIT card on Screencastify

Panopto - A common tool used in many Universities to perform lecture capture in the classroom. It can also be used to make screencasts from your desk and offers useful editing tools if needed. Follow this link to read the Marjon MeLT team's explanation of how to use Panopto for screencasting.

What to do with your screencast

Options will vary according to the tool that you use but most will be accessible via a URL that you can embed in your VLE (e.g. Moodle, LearningSpace). There should also be an option to get an embed code which can be used to position the video itself into your VLE making it more visible and requiring less clicks for the student to watch it. The online free-to-access tools such as screencastify will also have the option to upload your video to YouTube creating an easily accessible channel of your own containing all of your screencasts.

You may feel the need to make your videos more or perhaps less publicly available and these various options will allow you to manage access to your work.

What I've Learnt from making a number of screencasts.

  • Get over yourself #1 - Most people hate the sound of their own voice but remember that your students are already forced to listen to you droning on anyway so don't worry about how you come across in front of the camera.
  • Get over yourself #2 - Any new software takes some getting used to but all three of these tools outlined above are pretty intuitive and much less complicated than most of the software that people are already using. As with all new tools, you need to commit about an hour to playing with it initially and anticipate making a few duff ones first but you'll soon have the skills to make great videos for your students.
  • A bit of extra time now can save much more time in the future - A ten minute screen cast will take longer than ten minutes to make. It needn't take an age though. My advice is to use resources you already have access to (such as lecture slides) or make very simple, quick new ones if needed. Screencasts can show any type of content that is on your screen so there's no limitations as to what you can film. Time spent making a content rich, re-usable screencast can potentially save lots of time in the future though.

Examples of how I've used screencasts

Explaining the requirements of part of an assessment package and going over key content -

Academic Skills: Giving tips on how to do referencing efficiently -

Explaining how an essay could be structured -

Giving feedback to the group that complements individual comments on their submission -

Practising for, and producing a recording of, a presentation given at a conference -