Teachers everywhere have begun creating screencasts and are seeing the positive effects of how replacing whole group lecturing opens the door for more student engagement. Screencasting lectures are often the first step teachers take in flipping their classrooms. Students begin to receive the lecture that was once done in school in the comfort of their own home, friends house, internet cafe, etc. and use class time to complete the type of work that was once given as homework. The type of work now given in class often has the students practicing new skills that were covered in the screencast. Both teachers and students benefit from the new set-up. The students benefit from having the teacher there to help address any questions or concerns. The teacher can now get a more accurate assessment of how the students are performing.
So the question becomes…
What Makes a Good Screencast?
A good screencast can have a tremendous impact on student learning; however, the opposite is also true. Below are my tips on what makes a great screencast. Feel free to comment below to share any you think I left out!
- Make your own – students enjoying seeing their teacher present new information vs. some random person on Youtube. You creating your own screencast personalizes the learning experience.
- Outline what you will be talking about – Trust me. No one likes someone who rambles about nothing. I have caught myself rambling in the past and it is not good. If you want to expand on a topic, then do so! Just have a plan for what exactly you are going to share and do.
- Keep it simple and short as possible – One of my favorite ways to present new information is to do a screencast of our digital textbook that has an audio recording of the text. I play the text and pause periodically to add notes, commentary, or whatever else I feel is relevant. In the past, this would be done in a lecture setting that could consume nearly all of a 40 minute period. In a lecture, you can only go as fast as the last student to write in your notes. Screencasting allows me to reduce that time to 1/4 of that while still giving students to work at their own pace by being able to pause and rewind the video when needed.
- Have a definite purpose- What is the one thing you are trying to accomplish? Make sure your one thing is a present theme in your screencast. Please note that not all screencast need to be aligned with a curriculum standard. I often will make one giving an example of how to turn in an assignment or how to change the share settings on a Google doc.
- Have everything ready to go on your computer- Most screencasting programs have a feature that will allow you to edit or trim your video, but save yourself as much hassle as possible by having everything prepared on your device. I can only imagine how LAME it would be for a student to watch his/her teacher search for a particular document or file.
- Hide all personal information – Close all of the tabs and programs you are not using in your screencast.
- Practice – Do a dry run on your presentation before you hit publish. Check to make sure everything is working properly and look for areas where you can trim down the length.
- Se the appropriate screen size- True Story: The First screencast I made was perfect…if you were an ant. I somehow manage to record it in a small window and my students could not see any text when they tried to view it on their Chromebooks. I recorded a PowerPoint presentation using only the preview window instead of viewing the slideshow and adjusting my screencasting window to the full screen. So, do not be like me and remember to adjust the screen size appropriately.
- Speak clearly – See below
- Eliminate Distraction(s) – This would be one I have learned the hard way… multiple times. So, silence your cell phone, put the kids to bed, put the dog outside, and mute the TV.
- Use Humor – I enjoy making seriously corny jokes throughout my screencasts. Think dad jokes of Science. Don’t worry, I will save them for my students and not expose them to you. Another fun way to mix things up is to randomly show a weird image or video. This will typically get a laugh and also “wake them up” a bit. I have been known to throw in a certain 7-second video of a screaming goat during longer screencasts.
- Worry about your filmmaking ability. Whatever you are capable of will be great!
The internet is full of screencasting programs. Many are super expensive. I personally use Screencast-o-matic. It is super easy to use and also has basic editing capabilities. The link below will lead you to their page. Many teachers can typically use the free version. I personally paid about $25 and have not been disappointed.
What do you do to make a great screencast for your students?