Screencast pros and cons

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It looks like I’m still not quite meeting my quota of one a week – but in this case I feel justified. After a marathon marking session I’ve sent all of my GCSE and A-Level coursework off and felt I deserved a week with a bit less work related goings on. So there!

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So, to the point. I’ve liked the idea of screencasts for a while. If you’re not sure what that means, it’s usually a video recording of your screen with a bit of narration and possibly on-screen text designed to demonstrate something useful.

I’ve tried using screencasts with classes several times, but rarely with great success. If it’s a class I’m teaching then it seems strange to play a video of me talking when I can just, well, talk! I have tried using short screencasts so that pupils can quickly revisit individual aspects, but in a classroom environment it just seems to lead to too much distraction.

Using screencasts for distance learning could be useful – but then you’re relying on sufficient connection speed and the relevant piece of software being at home. I try to keep homework relatively simple in order to avoid all the excuses (and if the homework is a bit more challenging, then it may become more than just an excuse) and so I’m not entirely convinced there is enough benefit using that model.

Where screencasts really seem to come into their own is with teaching staff. I’ve started work on a series of tutorials for colleagues at my school called Super Moodles and most recently recorded a very off-the-cuff screencast following a discussion about Google Sketchup at EdTechRoundup. Now at the time of writing it’s only had 29 views, but the feedback has been positive and there should now hopefully be at least 2 or 3 teachers who feel confident to use the software with a little direction and can then take the software further and start introducing it to classes. Job done!

If anhyone HAS used screencasts effectively in the classroom then I’d love to hear about it – and see what I’m doing wrong!

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