Screencasting Best Practices

“Screencasting seems like a lot of work and I don’t know the technology. Why should I spend time learning how to do this?” We will explore this question and provide some information to help you get started.

Screencasting provides a means of recording audio, video and on-screen activity that can be made available to students on an as-needed basis. They give instructors a powerful tool by which to connect with students and create a sense of presence. For students, screencasting delivers content and feedback in a form they can use when they would like, as often as they would like, and on a platform they like. Screencasting is being used effectively in many disciplines: Biology, Psychology, the Sciences, Mathematics, and others.

Screencasts (SCs) can be used to:

• Record lectures,
• Add narration to slide shows,
• Give students feedback on their work or answer difficult questions,
• Record review sessions.

Just play Don’t make your first SC anything you intend to keep or use. Just go in and play around some.
Start easy Make your first “For-class” recording something easy and build from there.
Don’t set the bar too high They don’t need to be Spielberg-worthy presentations. A quick 2 – 3 minute SC will get your point across.
Don’t overload working memory Consider cognitive load when designing a screencast presentation.
Shorter SCs are better Focus on one major topic per presentation. Students will stay engaged with several shorter screencasts vice one exhaustive presentation.
Use caution with text Limit the use of text in your presentation, it often comes out illegible.
Put yourself in the presentation Capture video of yourself in your presentation or place a picture of yourself in the talking-head screen.
Limit sound and graphics Do not use background music or extraneous graphics, they distract students and reduce learning.
Introduce and close each presentation Use a basic Intro and Closing in each of your SCs. Include: your name and the subject or learning objective.
Model your thinking Explain your actions on the screen during the presentation to model your thought processes.
Focal points Use your cursor or other pointing device to ensure students know which objects you are discussing.
Smaller screen resolution Record near screen resolution of 800 x 600. This helps students with older monitors or visual disabilities and provides a smaller storage footprint.
Sound quality Poor audio quality will have a negative effect on an entire presentation. Use a good microphone and turn the sound up.

Here is a screencast that is simple but done well. Screencast CP109.

The Basic Recording Process.

a. Planning:

Objectives – Know what concept or point you want to get across? Keep it to one important concept per video. Four videos of 5 minutes each are better than one video of 20 minutes.

Appearance – What images or videos will be included and where should they be located on the screen?

Length – Keep it under 10 minutes. The sweet spot, according to research, is 5 – 6 minutes.

Structure – Sequence your content to ensure you capture all steps in a process, information needed for a topic, and that your students can easily follow.

b. Content:

Sources – Can include images, videos, objects, audio, etc. How will you get them onto your screen during the recording?

Size – Smaller is typically better as long as it captures the presentation so students are able to understand. Smaller loads easier and views better.

Placement – Where do you want items positioned in your recording? What parts of the screen do you need to capture? Place material for logical flow and to lessen screen hopping.

c. Rehearse. Especially important when you add graphics, videos, etc. Moving parts equal greater complexity. Review the buttons you will use during recording i.e., pause, volume, screen advance.

d. Record. Remove extraneous windows that are open on your desktop and minimize interruptions (be in a quiet place). Pause is your best friend here, you can pause to prepare, rehearse for the next section, and then continue on.

e. Edit. Not necessary for all productions and, if you are satisfied with your recording, don’t feel like you have to make edits.

f. Upload. Save a copy of your SC to your desktop before exporting or uploading to another host. This will keep the material in your possession so if anything happens to your account or the host, you still have access.

Embed or Link.

The recommended method of placing your presentation into Blackboard is by linking or embedding rather than uploading a file to your course. This saves space in Blackboard and time for students who won’t have to wait for a large file to download before viewing.

Screencast-O-Matic tutorials.

Tegrity helps.

Feel free to download the PDF version of this post which includes additional material you may find helpful. Best Practices Screencasting

Screencasting Best Practices