Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Rethinking the Screencast

 Many of us have spent a part of this summer reflecting upon our year and racking our brains to improve in 2012-2013.  Although we all know its not just about the videos, one of the many areas I would like to improve next year is the quality of my screencasts.  I made about 12 during the second semester last year, but after further research of flipping techniques (including Jon and Aaron’s book) and taking a course in hypermedia this summer, I realized that I was making several mistakes.  I will start with these:

  • My screencasts were too long.  Some ran about 20 minutes, a lot to ask regarding the attention span of the “YouTube generation."
  • Each slide contained too much information and too many visuals.  Students (actually any learners), can only process so much as once.  Including 5-8 lines of text, 3-4 visuals, and audio narration put too much strain on what theorists call “cognitive load."
  • The videos were not interactive in any way. They were primarily a digital version of the same passive lecture style that we have all come to accept but deep down despise.

Here are some of the changes I am making for this year’s screencasts, thanks in part to the new and improved Camtasia Studio 8.

  • Shorter videos that are overviews of one topic. For instance, instead of one 25-30 minute video on Ancient Greece, I am creating three separate 8-10 minute videos.
  • Switching from PowerPoint to Prezi, each slide will only include one line of text and one visual.  There will be more slides overall, but each will have a primary focus regarding content.  I also think this will add better “flow” to the presentation since each slide is only up for about 30-45 seconds.
  • Videos will be interactive using Camtasia 8’s quizzing and hotspot features.  Students will be prompted for their name and email before starting the quiz.  There will then be 5-6 questions embedded at different times in the video, and responses will be sent to me via a spreadsheet.  Not only will the scores be reported, but also the percentage of the video actually being viewed by the student.  Hotspots will be included that will be “clickable” links in the video to online resources relevant to the material covered in the video.

Here is the link to my first video using these methods (and Camtasia Studio 8):  

I’m sure once the school year starts, I will realize that there are 10 other changes I would like to make.  If you feel this way too, that’s ok.  As Jon and Aaron say in their book, its not whether its perfect, its whether its done by Tuesday… That being said, hopefully this will help you consider how to best create your screencast videos regarding student learning in the limited time-frames we have to produce them. 

If you have any comments or questions, as always, please comment below or contact me at the following:

*** IMPORTANT:  If students are viewing the interactive videos (hotspot / quiz) on an iPhone, make sure they download the TechSmith Smartplayer App, otherwise these features will not work correctly.