Screencasting: Like podcasting for visual learners

As a teacher, have you ever been frustrated by having to re-teach the same concept to different students again and again? Have you wished there was some way for students to see again what you did in class?

As a physics teacher, there are certain processes (mainly some of the math stuff) that I find myself having to repeat over and over again, such as some of the trig stuff, vector addition, and projectile motion. The frustrating thing is that when we go over the concept in class, students seem to get it. They can follow along with what I am doing and my step by step explanation, and they can even do it themselves (with occasional prompting) in class. But when they get home and try to do the homework by themselves… from lecture to notes things get lost in translation. This is where screencasting can prove useful.

Screencasting is the combining of the visuals from a computer screen with audio dialog into a video that can be viewed and reviewed online. A screencast app allows you to record what appears on your computer screen (or a select portion) together with live audio recorded through a computer microphone. Some screencasting apps also enable text boxes, arrows, pausing of the video at key points, and other annotations that can enhance the usefulness of the video.

Here is an excerpt from a lesson on Trigonometry that I recorded for my physics classes:

The full screencast can be found at this website that I created over the weekend to host the videos: Science Tutorials

Screencasting is also very effective for demonstrating how to use something on the computer. This is an excerpt from a screencast I created to show students how to set up their blog for my class:


Now, screencasting certainly won’t take the place of good classroom instruction. For one, it can only capture what appears on a computer screen. But it can definitely provide an effective tool for students to review, at their own pace and as many times as they need, what was done in class.

And since there are a number of free screencasting apps available online, students can easily be asked to create their own screencasts, thus addressing NET-S #2 and #6.

A free, easy to use, and browser based (no installation of software) screencast app is ScreenToaster. ScreenToaster will also host the screencasts you create for free. The FreeTech4Teachers blog lists several more free tools for creating screencasts, and it’s where I first found out about these tools.

The software that I used for the above screencasts is BB Flashback. The free “Express” version offers great options for recording and exporting screencasts. I used an evaluation copy of the “Pro” version to add the text boxes and pauses, and also to do frame by frame editing. BB Flashback does require installing software, and you will have to find your own means of hosting your screencasts, though there are plenty of free options available for that as well.

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  1. Mr. Byrne said...

    Thanks for mentioning Free Tech 4 Teachers in your post. I love the phrase "Screencasting is like podcasting for visual learners." That's a great way to describe screencasting.


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