Monday, August 18, 2014

Clone Yourself Through Screencasts!

Have you ever had a situation where you wanted more than one of you? Perhaps you're in a classroom and while all the students need assistance, they are all in a different place. Or you're getting ready to send home procedures for using an online tool and you know that a few parents or students might get lost along the way.

Screencasting is simply the process of creating a digital recording of something that is occurring on the computer screen and they often contain audio narrations.  As we weave increasing amounts of technology into all of the roles we play as classroom teachers, screencasts can quickly become handy tools.  In my own classroom I used screencasts to show parents how to log into our classroom blog and post comments and to remind students how to accomplish various tasks using Google Docs, Sliderocket, or Schoology.  There are three reasons why I love screencasts:
  • Just in Time Teaching - It's 3:30pm and you get an email from a student - "How do I embed my presentation on the class Google Site?  I can't remember."  You certainly could respond by typing out all of the steps and hope that the student doesn't miss could create a short video modeling it for them all over again.  Recognizing that if one student asked the question chances are a few others are confused as well, you could then send out the video to the entire class via email and even post it on your webpage.  
  • Repetition without Repeating - One of the handy things about screencasts is that the videos can be watched over and over again.  Learners can review your instructions until they have mastered the concept and you only had to teach the lesson once!  When I taught technology elective screencasts honestly kept me sane.  During class I would model for the students how to use a particular application, but the night before I also created a few short screencasts of the key steps and posted them on my website.  When the students transitioned to independent practice they would use these videos if they had a question and I could move around the room assisting students with deeper concepts.
  • Show What You Know - Screencasting isn't just for teachers, kids can use it too. Some projects aren't easily turned in. For example, a California Mission created in Minecraft can't exactly be emailed or uploaded to Google Drive. However, a video tour of the mission with commentary on why the student chose specific materials or designs could easily be shared with a teacher and frankly a much better demonstration of the student's understanding than the project alone. Snagit now makes a Chrome app that works with Google Drive which is perfect for doing this! Check out the tutorial.
You're probably thinking, "these sound great, but I certainly don't have time to make them."  You do.  I promise.  It is easier than typing out the directions and can be done in three quick steps.  Here's a screencast showing you how.
  • Record - On your Mac use QuickTime player to create your videos (Windows or Chromebook users - check out Snagit for Chrome).
  • Upload - Once the video is done look for Share and upload it to YouTube. 
  • Post - While the video is uploading create your email or weblink where you plan on posting your video.  Once the uploading process is done just copy and paste the link to your video.  Hit send or save and resume your life.
Having created screencasts for the past few years I have three main points of advice for making your own.
  • Keep it Short! - No one watches a video longer than 5 minutes.  Shoot for 1-5 minutes and if you find yourself running long consider chunking the video into two sections.
  • Make it Interactive - If you need to go longer than 5 minutes and can't chunk the video then build in pause points where you encourage the viewer to stop the video and complete the steps you just mentioned. 
  • Mistakes are Awesome! - Your video does not need to be perfect.  You are human and when you teach in real life chances are you make mistakes.  The same thing happens with video.  Simply correct yourself and move on.  It shows your human side and makes the video more interesting.  
If you have any questions about screencasting feel free to let me know. I would love to help you and your students create a few of your own.


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