Screencasts

What is a screencast?

As you may know screencasts are a recording of everything that appears on your computer screen. Using screencast software to record your screen means that you record audio as well as any other visuals that may appear on it, such as images, presentations, software and webpages. The resulting video is called a screencast. 

Screencasts have been and continue to be an important way for people around the world to learn. For example, The Khan Academy has thousands of screencasts on various subjects and every month over 15 million students watch and learn.

Can you show me an example?

What are the benefits of creating a screencast?

Screencasts are an inclusive learning method.  They allow the student to learn at their own pace, as they can be watched at any time, anywhere.  Students can rewind to go over things they are not sure about or fast forward things they are already knowledgeable about.

Screencasting allows you to explain things that can’t easily be explained by audio or visuals alone. Screencasts allow for a flow of connected ideas without needing to break content into sections as happens in Powerpoint or written text. 

They can be consumed outside of the classroom and free up lesson time. 

Screencasts are a great way of communicating mathematic equations or images in a similar way to how you might use the whiteboard or visualiser in a lecture theatre. A good screencast can go some way to replicating the one on one experience with a student and deliver clear, concise instructions.

Screencasts are great for:

  • Recording an answer to common questions
  • Recording a tutorial on how to use a piece of software
  • Recording a procedure on how to solve a problem

How long does it take to produce?

The Transformation Team can support you in creating high-quality screencasts. The screencast will need careful planning but they are a quick and efficient way of creating reusable video content. Students could even record screencasts for formative assessments.

Screencasts Best Practices 

Visuals 

Visuals are really important to keep the viewer engaged. Think carefully about the images, diagrams, graphics you are going to use. They will add an interesting visual layer and should reinforce what you are trying to say. Try and keep text on-screen text to a minimum.  Use bold headings and bullet points to make it easier for the viewer to read. 

If you don’t have many visuals then you might be better creating an audio file/podcast instead.  

Sound Quality 

Recording clear sound is really important. Poor quality sound can be distracting and unpleasant for the viewer. Make sure that you are using a good quality microphone. The microphone on a headset will probably do the trick but test it first beforehand. Try and minimize any background noise, close windows, turn off air con, turn off the radio etc. 

Scripting for Screencasts 

All good screencasts start with some sort of script, whether it is very detailed or a list of key points that you want to cover. But before you put your stylus to the tablet, you need to consider: 

  • Who is my audience? 

  • How can the screencast add value to their learning experience? 

  • What do I want the students to take away from watching this video? 

  • What things have students struggled to understand in the past and how can this screencast explain them better? 

  • How can this screencast fit into the broader context of the module and prepare them for the upcoming face to face sessions? 

Stage One: Brain dump 

  • Write down key bullet points of things you need to cover in the screencast, or create a PowerPoint and use the slides as a structure 

  • Consider whether you would like your face to appear on screen or not. For example, in your intro and outro, you might want to talk directly to camera but for the main body of the screencast, you may not want to appear on the screen at all (the screencast could capture you writing on a tablet instead, or show slides or graphics) 

  • Think about how the screencast will fit into the bigger picture: will you be assessing learning through a quiz on BlackBoard or through Multiple choice questions on H5P (H5P is an interactive tool that creates quizzes on top of the video)? If you are using H5P to check learning in the screencast you need to allow spaces in your presentation so the questions can appear on the screen.  

Stage Two: Structuring Your Screencast 

The structure of your screencast needs to follow the classic narrative structure of having a beginning, a middle and an end. If at all possible, try and create a story. All humans love a good story. 

Intro:Video marketing advises that the first 2 seconds are considered to be the most important in grabbing the viewer’s attention. Here are three simple ways of starting your video: 

  • Pose an interesting question. This will hopefully get the students thinking about an answer. 

  • Pose a problem that they can relate to. This will hopefully hook them in, as they will want to know the solution to the problem. 

  • Provide an overview and tell them what they are about to see or refer back to a previous topic. This builds trust with the learners and also hopefully some excitement! 

Middle:  Simplify the information wherever possible and try and keep it as concise as possible. Keep asking yourself, ‘what will the students see and hear?’ Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through. Distance learning can be quite lonely, so think about creating a relationship with your audience.  Speaking directly to them and being conversational rather than formal can be helpful.  Using the first and second person, ‘I’ and ‘We’ also creates less distance between you and the learner.   

Outro:This is your opportunity to leave a lasting impression. You might want to give the students a call to action, e.g. ‘Complete the Quiz, so I can check your understanding,’ or ‘Don’t forget you can always email me with any questions, I can be reached on… Another way of finishing the video might be to give a teaser for what happens in the next video. 

Length:Try and keep the content of your screencasts as concise as possible. Aim for short videos of 6 minute to 7 minutes in length. If you think your screencast will go over this time then perhaps consider creating a couple of shorter ones.  

Density:Think about the density of the information you want to put across. As a general rule, give the students longer to comprehend new ideas and allow less time for ideas that they should be familiar with. If the information is too dense, think about a visual way of simplifying or visually reinforcing what you are trying to communicate verbally. 

Stage Three: Lock Down!

This doesn't mean the script can’t change, but it does mean that hopefully there won't be any big changes. 

Now you can record your screencast. If you need any further assistance please contact us