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TA Connections Newsletter - Spring 2010

Screencasts as a Pedagogical Tool

Have you considered developing a brief computer-based tutorial as a means to extend course content to students who would like to view complex lab demonstrations again or for any students who cannot attend a particular classroom session to review what was demonstrated?  If so, you may
Screencasting as a Pedagogical Tool
consider developing computer-based tutorials or 'screencasts' that can be viewed by students whenever and however many times they need for both initial learning and subsequent review.

Screencasting is a digital recording of a computer screen's sequence of actions. The resulting file is encoded into a format similar to video. With an accompanying voice narration or background audio from a program, screencasts can be ideal for developing on-screen tutorials and distributed for easy viewing in an online setting. As with other computer techniques, screencasting is valued for its support of self-paced learning, just-in-time instruction, and 24/7 access.

Screencasts can be designed to engage learners through a well-conceived sequence of planned activities and assignments.  For example, teaching assistants can organize instruction by alternating screencast episodes with assignments students must complete before moving on to the next episode. When a screencast is well-designed, students can feel they are sitting with the teaching assistant while viewing and hearing a sequence of instructional steps. Students can follow-up via email or face-to-face with questions for further clarification, if necessary.

There are a number of software products available for developing screencasts, ranging from free downloadable programs (such as Jing or Screenr) with limited features, to fee-based products (such as Camtasia or ScreenFlow) offering a host of editing options such as zooming and text captioning.

Screencasts have been applied in a number of innovative ways in higher education including capturing lectures, conducting website tours, software and database training, demonstrating library functions, and providing feedback to students. Regarding feedback, students can benefit greatly as faculty can review portions of students' submitted assignments on-screen, highlight specific areas of text, and give his or her audio feedback on the students' assignments. Students can view the recorded feedback at their convenience and follow-up with questions via email or face-to-face.  Faculty can also assign students to develop their own screencast episodes for certain course activities.

Students can benefit from screencasts whether they are used for initial/follow-up instruction, as reference when needed, or for review for an upcoming exam.

The duration of screencasts can range from just a few minutes for limited instruction to an hour or longer for a captured lecture. Examples of screencasts can be viewed from the NIU Blackboard Tutorials website at: http://blackboardtutorials.niu.edu/category/view-all. Examples were created using Jing: http://www.jingproject.com

Resources

Educause Learning Initiative. (n.d.).  7 Things You Should Know About Screencasting. Retrieved on February 17, 2010 from http://www.educause.edu/ELI/7ThingsYouShouldKnowAboutScree/156815


TA Connections is a newsletter for graduate teaching assistants published every fall and spring semester by Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center, Adams Hall 319, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois 60115. Phone: (815) 753-0595, Email: tadev@niu.edu, Fax: (815) 753-2595, Web site: http://www.niu.edu/facdev. For more information about featured articles or upcoming graduate teaching assistant development programs, please contact the Center at (815) 753-0595 or tadev@niu.edu

Last Updated: 03/04/2010