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Students explain what they know with screencasting

By Team ISTE
February 4, 2016
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If you’ve flipped your classroom or ever made some tutorial videos, you know how simple it is to use screencasting software to quickly share information with numerous people who can view it multiple times across devices and time zones.

But screencasting — which allows you to record a voiceover while sharing your screen — isn’t just for teachers. It’s a great tool for allowing students to show what they know about a topic, says Amy Prosser, author of Tech Out Your Class: 6 Projects to Meet Common Core & ISTE Standards.

“Kids are so proud when they have the piece done,” Prosser explains, “and there’s something to be said for being able to publish something quickly and professionally without spending months on a big project.”

Getting started with screencasting

Start with a practice project on a topic students are already familiar with. Prosser suggests having students create a 20-second screencast on how to do something they already know how to do on a computer, like changing the font in a document.

“The first time is a practice round and students will be unfamiliar with the format. Don't have them publish it, just let them try it out and listen to it,” Prosser suggests.

With the practice round out of the way, have students select a topic for the “real thing.” While Prosser sticks to tech-related topics, screencasting works for any subject. For English language arts, students can record themselves reading aloud. In art class, students can explain their art piece, going through the details of their creation and annotating it on the screen. For math or physics classes, students can walk through a specific problem, explaining the steps to solving it.

Prosser also recommends using screencasting as a review activity before a test or exam. Students can then watch classmates’ videos to prepare.

“The key is for students to have different topics so they can watch each other’s screencasts. When they are published online, the students can watch all of the screencasts and leave positive feedback,” Prosser says.

Students can also treat the lessons like their own version of Khan Academy, using the screencasts to get a second look at something they didn’t understand or to get caught up if they were absent.

“There's something special about hearing a friend explain a problem,” Prosser adds.

Screencasting also lends itself to differentiation because students can take on topics that requires varying levels of knowledge.

“Screencasting is another avenue for practicing public speaking, and for a lot of students, it will be just as nerve-wracking.” Prosser says.

Many students are already familiar with screencasting because they’ve recorded themselves playing video games. But that doesn’t mean they know how to make their videos look professional, Prosser says. To get to the professional level, make sure they include these elements:  

  • Introduce themselves.
  • Explain what they will be talking about.
  • Go through their demonstration.
  • Present a closing.

The tools student use to create their screencasts will depend on whether they are using computers or tablets. Desktops and laptops with traditional screencasting software are best when students are analyzing text. Tablets with whiteboard apps are great for drawing, annotating or using modest amounts of text.

Prossers favorite tools for desktop or laptop screencasting are:

Her recommended whiteboard apps for tablets are:

Discover five additional Common Core- and ISTE Standards-aligned projects in Prosser's new ISTE book Tech Out Your Class.