Allow me to begin with a question: Do you like to repeat yourself?
I must admit that I don’t enjoy saying the same thing over and over again. After a while, sentences like I didn’t get that., Could you repeat it?, or Sorry, I wasn’t paying attention… can be irritating, especially when they are interrupting the communication process.
Teachers face this situation on a daily basis and usually many times a day, but that comes with the job. They have to be there for all their students, to make sure everyone gets the necessary information to learn the lessons taught in class.
Getting everyone to understand the material relatively at the same level can be a hard work, especially if we talk about large groups of students. Every individual has a different cognitive process, they receive information differently through their senses, and they process information in a different way. This is a very important aspect to consider when it comes to the learning process.
With traditional teaching methods, it isn’t possible to address this issue because in a classroom setting students can’t possibly be differentiated on the basis of their ability to learn. There will always be students who learn faster, and students who learn at a lower pace.
As a response to this issue, a number of alternative teaching methods and teaching tools emerged. I’m talking about the flipped classroom model and a number of rich media tools. One such magic solution which is of great help in realizing the goals of the flipped classroom and blended learning is screencasting.
What is screencasting?
Screencasting is the action of capturing a video of your computer screen. Unlike traditional video recording, this method doesn’t require a video camera and you don’t even have to appear in the footage. All you need is your computer and a software that can record your screen.
Screencasting has been in the teaching landscape for quite some time now and probably will be for many years to come. And it’s easy to understand why. It is one of the most dynamic tools educators can use to transform their classroom, and make it more enjoyable for students and for themselves. Being a simple and inexpensive tool with which amazing things can be done, it will only gain in popularity as alternative teaching methods will be adopted on a larger scale.
Used in a flipped classroom setting, screencasting is great news for teachers and student as well. Teachers can record fascinating materials that will help engage students in the learning process and make them curious about the lesson’s content. And the absolute beauty of it is that once recorded it can be reused many times, so it has the benefit of time saving.
For students, the benefits are evident. Each student could learn at their own pace without the pressure of keeping up with their peers. If they don’t understand something, they can watch the video again and again, and they won’t hold up the whole class activity. Since screencastings are videos with a narration or subtitles, they are just as good for students with visual and auditory learning styles.
The efficiency of screencasts can be maximized if they are used with other teaching tools, like a learning management system. These short videos can be embedded in content pages in the school LMS and teachers can follow up with a short question bank about key information from the video. This way, teachers will know if students watched the video.
It’s like a dream come true, isn’t it?
But don’t start capturing your screen yet. First there are a few aspects that need special attention:
Before you go ahead and write your story, first you should evaluate the available alternatives for screen capturing tools on the software market. There are many free and payed solutions with different feature sets. Some need more time to learn their functionalities and some are simple as brick. Chose the solution that best fits your needs and skill set. It isn’t worth it to give hundreds of dollars on features you will never use.
Before you start capturing your screen, you should have a detailed script of how the video will unfold. Write down your ideas as a flow of actions that you will do on your screen while capturing the video. It is a lot easier to work based on a script because you always know what to do next and how the video should look like when it is finished.
The image quality and format are the most important aspects at this point. Usually a screen capture software has many format options in which you can save your video. The video should be playable on different devices such as PCs, tablets and even phones, therefore it’s recommended to save them in popular formats such as MP4. A good quality video can enhance the learning process and it will make a material more memorable especially for students with a visual learning style.
The voice and sound
Don’t forget about students with an auditory learning style. The voice over and the sound of the video is just as important as the visual part. If the voice is dry and monotone it will be harder for students to pay attention to the content. Let’s face it, you probably won’t sound like Morgan Freeman, but you should do everything to transfer your enthusiasm through your voice if you want students to get really interested in the topic.
Probably we all stumbled upon low quality music videos on YouTube that were irritating to listen to, especially with headphones. That can be true for your video as well, so make sure you have a good microphone when you record your voice.
And a top tip: you should record your voice separately and then adjust it to the video. It speeds up the process by giving less room for error.
Less is more
Don’t make very long and hard to follow videos because these are like a double-edged sword. On one hand, it will eat up your time. On the other hand, it will be less enjoyable for students and important information could be lost.
The ideal length of the video is around 10 minutes, but in any case it shouldn’t be longer than 15 minutes.
Share, share, share
After you created your screencast don’t keep it to yourself, share it with your students and share it with the whole world. Put it on YouTube or/and Vimeo and let the world learn from you. However, if you want to share it just with your students, you can use your school LMS to make sure only they get it and watch it.
In my next post I’ll dive deeper in the software for screencasting and I’ll give you some tips on how to choose the best option for your needs. So, keep an eye on the NEO blog!
Zsolt is a Content Marketing Specialist at CYPHER LEARNING and a University Teaching Assistant. When he’s not in the classroom — nor on a motorcycle — he learns about new ways of teaching, education technology, and everything about e-learning.