As a teacher, do you ever wish you could clone yourself? Do you fantasize about all the creative interactive lessons you could create if you had more time?
Screencasting, although not a cloning tool, does offer a way to customize and create personalized learning activities for your students, and also communicate with students, colleagues and parents. And it saves you time that could be spent creating deeper learning activities for your students.
What is screencasting?
Screencasting allows you to easily create and deliver engaging and creative content through videos. You can share your screen, record your voice and demonstrate tools and activities using a web-based program, a mobile app or computer software depending on your preferred device.
You can make these videos quickly and use them in a variety of situations, such as:
Missed lessons. When students are absent, give them a link to a video of the lessons they missed.
Flipped instruction. For homework, have students watch a short video setting up an activity to be conducted in class the next day, so there’s more time for the project.
Review. Give students an outline of the key points of a lesson or unit to review before a quiz or test.
Add-ons. Offer bonus information or resources about topics discussed in class.
Tech support. Walk students, parents and even other teachers through the steps of using a tech tool, device or site.
Feedback. Record feedback of students’ assignments and projects.
Parent information. Instruct parents on how they can guide their students through an assignment or project.
Create a library
Screencasting is great way to build a library of classroom resources. After you create multiple screencasts, categorize them by topic or audience and store them in an easy-to-access folder. Once students, parents and fellow teachers know that you have videos to assist them, they will automatically navigate to the video library before asking you for assistance.
Here are some examples of what screencasting looks like in the classroom.
You just found out that Avery, a fifth grader, had surgery for a broken arm and will be out for two weeks just as you were about to introduce long division. You know Avery will need direct instruction to learn this new concept. Instead of sending worksheets and workbook pages home, you email a short, three-minute video allowing Avery to see your iPad screen as you demonstrate solving the problems while narrating the steps.
Your colleague, Mr. Gabriel, just received a grant for a class set of Chromebooks and you recently attended a webinar on Google Classroom and Google extensions for teaching and learning. You know you can help Mr. Gabriel, but you have no common free time.
In minutes, you can open your free screencasting app and teach him everything you know about Google tools. Best of all, Mr. Gabriel is able to stop, rewind and pause to take notes. If Mr. Gabriel needs assistance with other Chromebook applications, you can make additional videos. As more teachers get Chromebooks for their classrooms, they can access the videos you have already created to help them get started.
Mr. Christian has assigned his ninth-grade class a team project that will take place over the course of four weeks. The students are divided into groups and assigned specific topics.
In the past, Mr. Christian gave each student traditional written feedback, but this time around he wants to try a more personal approach. Mr. Christian decides to use screencasting to provide auditory and visual feedback.
Prior to recording his video, he will review the assignment and write down a few feedback notes. With the student’s assignment open on his device, he can record while he comments on specific sections, highlighting the portions that need to be edited. Since the files can be saved, students can playback previous files and evaluate their progress.
Another great way to grab the students' attention and keep them interested is to tell a story that relates to the topic or share a link to other resources that may help with the assignment.
An easy lift
Although it might seem like screencasting is just one more task for a busy teacher to take on, it doesn’t have to be. Most of us build and practice lessons outside of school hours using PowerPoints, Prezis, Google Slides and other interactive formats. We create worksheets and tests and build answer keys with explanations for correct answers. We create these materials using a computer or tablet, so adding a screencast is just one more quick resource.
Tools to get started
Whether a teacher is using videos to assist with out-of-the-classroom instruction or an instructional coach is using recordings to deliver virtual professional development, there are free, easy-to-use screencasting tools to help get started. Here are some of the more common options.
Screencast-O-Matic. This free web-based program allows you to make screencasts up to 15 minutes long on your laptop using your computer’s webcam. Just download the free plugin, go to the website and hit the record button. Screencast-O-Matic recordings download as MP4 files that you can publish on YouTube or save on your computer as a video file with the click of a button.
The pro version allows longer videos and additional storage options as well as offering more features, including editing, draw and zoom modes. Site licensing is available for a team or an organization, which will allow faculty and staff to have access to recording features without setting up individual accounts. Tutorials are available on the website to guide you through the process.
Explain Everything. This free collaborative interactive whiteboard app for your tablet or phone allows you to directly instruct using the whiteboard space or use a web browser to model any steps that may require web-enabled resources. The videos render to the device and you can share them using YouTube, Google Drive or other storage sites.
Explain Everything also offers collaboration features that allow multiple users to edit files from multiple devices. This is great for allowing students to work on group projects in class or at home. Users can also access and download premade lessons using Explain Everything Discover. In the discover tab, users can browse for files using category filters.
Paid versions of Explain Everything provide access to more administrative features and allow for the use of the program across multiple device platforms. The company offers different team or organization licensing to meet the varying needs of users.
Screencastify. This free Chrome extension allows you to capture video from your computer. Once you download the extension from the Chrome Web Store, you can just click the icon from your Chrome browser. Screencasts can be either directly loaded to Google Drive in a Screencastify folder or uploaded directly to YouTube.
After recording screencasts, teachers can couple their videos with add-ons, such as EdPuzzle, FlipGrid, FlipQuiz or Padlet, to create interactive lessons that will help students retain the information they learned in the screencast.
Keep the learning at the forefront
Like with any instructional technology tool, keep the emphasis on teaching and learning rather than focusing on the utility of the tool itself. Simply recording videos and posting them online without any instructions or support materials will not benefit teachers or students. Supplement videos with tasks and activities to facilitate a true instructional component.
Screencasting offers a way to meet teaching standards and performance indicators and maximize content learning. By using screencasting in creative and innovative ways, you can provide assessments that are positive, personalized and promote critical thinking. You no longer need to worry about how to share with your peers and address the needs of diverse learners.
Dr. Cynthia B. Vavasseur is an associate professor at Nicholls State University and runs a fully online Master’s of Educational Leadership program with an emphasis on educational technology. Read her website and follow her on Twitter @drvav.
Marcus Stein is a Google for Education Certified Trainer and director of professional development with AXI Education Solutions. He is also a Masters in Educational Technology Leadership candidate at Nicholls State University. Follow him on Twitter @MrSteinOnline.
Nikki Epps is a health sciences professor and subject matter expert online at StraighterLine, Inc. She is finishing the Educational Technology Master’s degree program at Nicholls State University. Follow her on Twitter @MedTerms4Fun
Sara Dempster is an instructor of teacher education at Nicholls State University and is currently enrolled in the online Doctorate in Instructional Systems Design and Technology program at Sam Houston State University. Follow her on Twitter @EdTechNightOwl.
Photo by Misty McElroy from Nicholls State University.