Pedagogy, Technology

Screencasts to the rescue?

Last post I shared my trans-historical Depression/Recession assignment, a portion of which is for the students to make modified Pecha Kucha presentations for the class. Rather than the normal 20 slides x 20 seconds format, I condensed it a bit (for both pedagogical and pragmatic reasons) to 20 slides x 15 seconds.

While I initially thought I’d create a template PPT or Google Doc Presentation, I decided instead that it’d be easier to create a screencast of how to set up a 20 slide x 15 second Google Doc presentation. Rather than grapple with multiple formats, I opted for everyone to use Google Docs because it’s easily embeddable into Edmodo, which will save us immense amounts of class time during the presentations as all the presentations will be accessible on the U.S. History class page we won’t be messing with logging in, logging out, or using the nostalgia-inducing medium of a “jump drive.”

Here’s the screencast that I made in order to help the students set up their own presentations:

The screencast lacks any audio, largely because the computer on which I recorded it didn’t have a microphone, but also because I think a process-oriented screencast like this doesn’t really require the explanatory power of my NPR-ready voice. I will acknowledge that I was able to type those supplemental instructions given that the screencast was about Presentations, but I think the effectiveness of the instructions are present nevertheless.

Finally, I used, and would recommend Screenr as the web-app for recording the screencast. It had a really intuitive interface and also allowed me to easily upload the screencast to Youtube, which enabled me to embed it here without too much hoop-jumping.

What experiences have others had with screencasts for explanations? I’d ideally like to have the students tinker and figure out these technologies for themselves and then help one another, but often a simply explanation that reaches all of them can be more effective. Does this type of tool help students learn how to use new technologies more effectively? Does it enfeeble them to learn to new technologies? Thoughts?

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