Use Screencast Videos In Your Courses

Use Screencast Videos In Your Courses

In this article, I would like to report 5 tips from my experience in using screencast tools in online and blended learning environments.

1. Introduce The Teaching Week

One of the earliest uses of screencasts I adopted was to record walk-through videos of my teaching weeks in my online courses, which always appeared as the first learning resource. In these videos, I took my learners on a guided tour of the weeks in which I put an emphasis on what we were doing and why we were doing it, by bringing up learning outcomes and activities along with assessment tasks together. I still employ screencasts for the same purpose as they play a key role in facilitating the goal setting and planning process for online learners.

2. Create Presentation Materials

Screencasts allowed me to record lectures at my own desk. Previously, I had heavily relied on text to deliver course content online, burdening course participants with too much text on Learning Management Systems (LMSs). Moreover, it is found that online and blended course creation tend to take more time than thought. Producing screencast videos to deliver key information not only helped me solve the burdening hurdle but also enriched my course content with media. My experience shows that the use of screencasts noticeably lessens the course creation time as it eliminates the need to go to an institution’s media lab to shoot lectures and edit them. While creating screencast videos, most teachers tend to record their PowerPoint slides. Yet, I believe that teachers should put more effort to make watching videos online a more enjoyable experience for learners.

That’s why I would encourage you to record your presentation materials with more dynamic online presentation tools like Prezi. Not only do they let you create more dynamic and visually appealing presentations with animations, a rich library of images, and zooming features, but they also grab your learners’ attention and help them digest the content with more ease.

Another set of recommendations would be to keep screencast lectures bite-sized, no more than six minutes, and accompany them with a listening task. These tasks can vary from filling in the table to true/false statements. For one thing, blended and online learning environments require a higher degree of self-regulated learning and therefore, such simple listening tasks scaffold the learners’ autonomy.

However, there are some words of caution. Avoid the overdose of screencast software, a content-delivery tool like this may prevent you from seeing other effective ways of content presentation. Otherwise, there is a good likelihood of ending up with a more teacher-centered environment in your online courses.

3. Clear Up The Muddiest Points

Muddiest point is a formative assessment technique in which students write down any confusing or unclear points in their learning in response to the question, "What was your muddiest point in …?" After collecting responses, teachers read the questions and prepare answers for them. I found the use of screencasts for this activity very helpful. Instead of clearing up things in class, I decided to record my explanations with screencast videos and upload them to my online classrooms. While answering student questions, I took advantage of free online whiteboard tools, like the AWW app, which enabled me to draw, write, paint, highlight, and much more. The benefits reported by my students were that my explanations could be accessed regardless of the time and place, and also be used for exam revisions.

4. Give Feedback

Another use of screencast tools is to deliver feedback online. With screencast feedback, not only am I able to show areas of weakness and strength in my learners’ work visually but also personalize feedback with my voice by entering the conversation. I think such type of teacher feedback is especially vital in distance courses as they bring the teacher’s presence into the course, lessening the students' feeling of isolation. Furthermore, I unearthed that screencast feedback noticeably contributes to teacher efficiency more than text feedback.

For more meaningful feedback, firstly it is essential to clearly communicate your expectations for a good submission by either listing the qualities you look for or referring to the criteria and then explaining how well they have lived up to your expectations. It is also equally important to be resourceful. In other words, while giving feedback, share useful websites or resources on your screen with learners as a way to deal with the outlined limitations of their work. For instance, for a student who needs to include more collocations in their writing, visit and show them the website of the Online OXFORD Collocation Dictionary.

5. Summarize

The last, but surely not least, potential use of screencast software is to record summary videos of the teaching weeks in order to bring them to an end. I started using screencasts for this purpose after seeing many excellent examples of such videos and texts in Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) on FutureLearn. Basically, summary videos go over what has been taught in a particular week and collect all the main ideas in synchronous activities, such as chats, and asynchronous activities, like discussion forums or blogs. While summarizing, instructors give credits to those learners who contributed to the week with their valuable insights. Unquestionably, being acknowledged for your ideas by a course instructor, who is usually an expert, boosts motivation. The importance of such videos is that they are particularly helpful for participants who miss synchronous learning events and for revising the content of the teaching weeks.

Final Words

Your efforts to integrate screencasts into the above-mentioned ways may not be well realized if your screencast videos are not of good quality. Therefore, when creating screencast videos, two things should always be given priority: the use of a good microphone and the leverage of screencast features.