I’ve been trying to use screencasting more often in my classroom this year. It’s a great tool for any classroom, whether it’s a F2F, blended, or online classroom. I think it’s a wonderful way for students to be able to teach others what they know and also reflect on their own learning. It also gives me an opportunity to really know what the student has learned and also what areas we need to work on.
The Student Experience
Before a student creates a screencast, they need to create a storyboard and a few lines of script. Students know to fold their paper in fourths, then sketch out their product. The write a few lines of script under each scene and make sure to include key vocabulary words. These vocabulary words are always highlighted in our lesson and in their textbook. After their storyboard has been approved, they give it a go. They can pause their screencast in between scenes so they can get ready for the next section, and rehearse if necessary. They review their screencast and then decide if it contains everything needed. If it doesn’t, they can do it again. Usually, students only need one or two takes for the final product.
Students get instant feedback about their learning. Their learning outcome is to demonstrate mastery of the concept by being able to teach it to others. Their product is posted online after approval, so other students can learn or review the concept they taught. Students, parents, and other community members can view the recordings and offer feedback, as well. When students share this way, they are creating for an audience that is larger than just the teacher. They strive for excellence. Since students are creating products that reflect the learning in class, the projects are always tied to the curricular objectives. I find that student mastery is increased when they are tasked with teaching others what they have learned. We are using screencasting in my classroom for just math, but I can see this tool being used across the curriculum.
Screencasting tools are generally free or have a minimal cost. For the desktop, I’ve used the free tool, Jing. Since these screencasts are limited to only 5 minutes, it forces students to be concise with their explanations. If students are demonstrating math concepts, we generally capture drawings with the SmartBoard software. If a teacher didn’t have this software, they could certainly use something like the free online whiteboard software CoSketch, to capture their annotations. Most of the time, however, it’s easier to use the iPad to make these types of screencasts because students can use their finger to draw their annotations. It seems more natural for them than using a mouse. I prefer the software, Explain Everything, even though it costs around $2.00. It’s easy to use, has multiple screens, and has one touch publishing to a variety of online sharing sites. If teachers are on a budget, they can use a free alternative like Screen Chomp.
Students are using all levels of Bloom’s as they create their screencasts. They are recalling information that they have learned, but they are creating a new product of their learning, which requires them to analyze and evaluate the subject they are teaching to make sure it clear for others to understand.
Eventually, I would love to be able to have students produce a site like Mr. Marcos has created with his students at MathTrain.tv . These middle school students have a global audience they teach each week with their instructional videos.