Covid-19 has had a major impact in education where many teachers have had to rapidly adjust their instructional practices and switch gears from face to face instruction to providing instruction in a virtual environment. For so many educators, that meant getting uncomfortable with technology to become more comfortable with shifting to teaching virtually to continue to support student learning. This disruption has affected teacher’s instructional pedagogy, the learning cycle, and has forced many teachers to quickly expand their knowledge base of technology tools and adopt new instructional methods to plan, design, and deliver instruction.
Many educators continue to experience various challenges with virtual instruction such as student attendance, varying learning styles, student’s virtual stamina and ensuring students’ individual needs are being met. However, how we plan, present and design instruction is an essential component for supporting students while learning virtually. Screencasting is a great instructional tool to design instructional content that is easily accessible for teachers to share on different platforms for students. In addition, it can support a teacher’s technological content pedagogy.
What is Screencasting?
Screencasting is a video that is created when you use a screencasting tool to record your screen while explaining a concept or process or even modeling a lesson. The recording can be used to introduce content or use as a resource for future playback to support learning.
Screencasting is a great instructional tool to design instructional content that is easily accessible for teachers to share on different platforms for students. Teachers are able to create short and engaging instructional videos for various learners. It helps to support student-centered learning, differentiated instruction and enhances the student learning experience.
It’s an effective way for teachers to explain a concept or a procedure in which students can learn by example. It can help improve student retention of information because students are able to work at their own pace and teachers are able to scaffold learning for students. When teachers record their instruction, they are able to create a repository of resources that can be used and reused again. In addition, screencasting gives teachers an edge that supports various teaching models such a flipped classroom model.
3 Popular Screencasting Tools
Providing an Effective Learning Experience
One thing to consider when planning your instructional videos, is your student’s learning experience. Afterall, no matter how much great information you provide, your student’s engagement and connection with the content is more important to be able to produce the student outcomes you are anticipating. Brane (2015), recommends four factors for student’s to have an effective learning experience:
Factor 1: Signaling
Also known as cueing. Highlight key information to direct your student’s attention. This can be done by underlining, circling, or using other features of the annotation and/or drawing tools. As you narrate the video, use signaling as a strategy to bring attention to important details and key information you are emphasizing to direct your student’s attention.
Factor 2: Segmenting
Chunk the learning material. This allows your student to engage with small pieces of new information and helps manage their intrinsic load (Brane, 2015).
Factor 3: Weeding
Keep information aligned to learning goals and eliminate extraneous information. For example: “good to know” information but not needed to obtain the learning goal
Factor 4: Matching Modality
Leverage audio/visual and use of animation to match the mode of learning. Model step-by-step processes. Ex: animate voice and facial expressions for storytelling
Tips for Best Practice:
Tip 1: Know your Audience
At the end of the day, your students are your end users. Remember, when you are planning, scripting and even during the recording of your screencast, it’s important to consider their learning experience. And even more so now during this challenging time. Therefore, since students are having to learn from home, you would definitely want to create an experience that is conducive to meet their needs.
So no matter, whether you are explaining a concept, demonstrating a problem, or setting expectations for an assignment, consider their needs. Sequence and pace the contents of your recording so that it is structured for them and don’t feel the need to rush through it and talk to them as you would talk to them in class.
Tip 2: Avoid Lengthy Videos
So this goes right along with knowing your audience. Long videos can be daunting to watch. and typically for many people, after about 2 – 3 minutes one’s attention span begins to slowly diminish. Just think when you were in the classroom for face to face instruction ,a general rule of thumb was to check for understanding every 7-8 minutes, in some way. There’s no need to overload information into one video. Therefore, only record what you need and what’s relevant for the learning process. And if you find it necessary to have longer videos, Consider creating a sequence of shorter and engaging recordings that are more targeted and focused. This will allow you to chunk your instructional content.
Tip 3: Embed the Webcam for a more Personal Touch
Depending on when you are listening to this podcast, it has more than likely been quite some time since you have seen your students. Therefore, leverage screencasting as another avenue to be present for them and that includes being visible. One of the cool features of screencasting is the picture in picture style setup which allows you to be on screen while you are recording your screen. You don’t necessarily have to be on screen the entire recording. In fact, I recommend you toggling between your web camera being on and off so that students are able to focus on important content being presented. However, it is a great way to continue to connect with your students and I know we often use instructional videos created by others, screencasting is a perfect opportunity for a familiar voice to hear, a familiar face to see , and provides a more consistent teaching style they have been acclimated to in the classroom.
Tip 4: Use a Conversational Voice with Enthusiasm
It is important to narrate or model the process during the recording of your screencast in the same manner you would speak to your students if they were with you in the classroom. Using a conversational style of voice, with enthusiasm, allows students to better engage with content because it creates the social learning aura that supports them in being a partner in the learning process. There is no need to be formal in your video. So speak to them and not at them. Make them feel like they are a part of the learning.
Tip 4: Empower your Students’ Voice with Screencasting
We all know that listening, speaking, and writing are essential components for literacy and the learning process. Screencasting easily incorporates these vital components through planning, scripting, and narrating videos. Creating opportunities for your students to screencast is not only a great way to empower student’s voices in the classroom, but it also supports students to be able to better process and showcase their learning at a high cognitive level.