Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Screencasting for educators


We often have students creating a screencast to showcase their acquisition of content knowledge, but teacher-created screencasts can also play an important role in teaching and learning.
Screencasting (the act of capturing drawing and voice on a blank page) and screen recording (the act of capturing drawing and voice on top of an image or Web page) is easy to do and creates a powerful product for students to learn from. Oehrli (2011) conducted a literature review on the subject of instructional screencasts, and state, in a paper presented at ACRL11, that Oud’s (2009) research indicated the use of best practices when creating screencasts can make the information more meaningful to the students. These best practices include reducing cognitive overload and identifying the audience and goals for the video. She (Oud) offered best practices in terms of organizing videos for maximum learning, such as: “Focus on what the main points are, then organize and present these to make it as easy as possible for people to understand them clearly. Don’t include information that isn’t needed to convey the main points, even if it seems interesting or useful.”

Steps in Creation

The Screencast Academy wiki provides a practical overview of the steps to creating a good screencast.
1. Decide upon a clear purpose for your screencast.
  • Identify your audience as this can dictate many aspects of the quality and direction of your screencast.
  • Just like a good lesson plan, consider what you want your audience to know or be able to do after viewing.
  • Storyboard or pre-write your lesson. Double check the steps.
2. Prepare the stage
  • Think about what on your desktop you want to capture. Clear your desktop of distracting icons or windows.
  • Just capture what you want to show – crop off any extra real estate.
  • Don’t capture more than a person can fit on their monitor. (no more than 1024×768, but 800×600 is safer).
3. Tell the Story in Scenes
  • Identify the breaks, transitions, and connections within your screencast carefully.
  • Remember that you can start over if you need to.
  • Determine if you need multiple scenes (a video editing program)
4. Careful Narration
  • Run through the screencast with the script once or twice before recording.
  • Speak slowly and carefully
  • Follow the script. Don’t confuse the message by using asides.

The PALibrarians Wiki includes both the rationale for teachers to create a screencast as well as a list of things to plan for when creating a screencast.
Why would a teacher create a screencast?
  • Create a tutorial for clarifying complex topics.
  • Create a training video to capture critical procedures students need to know.
  • Create a demonstration to convey your expert knowledge.
  • Create sample exemplar student assessments if students are creating screencasts as an assessment.
How does a teacher go about creating a screencast?
  • Identify the prior knowledge required and the learning goals.
  • Decide how to chunk the information and introduce small bits at a time.
  • Develop a sketched storyboard of your ideas.
  • Write the script out, with your notes to yourself included.
  • Gather all the URLs and images collected before you begin.
  • Practice to get the timing and voice right.
  • Determine how to host and distribute the completed project.
There are times when it may be easier to create the video component of the screencast first and add the audio later. This allows you to concentrate on each component separately. In addition, many teachers who create screencasts report that ten minutes is the longest a screencast should be to make sure students stay engaged with the content. Here is a link to some screencasting best practices.

Samples of teacher-created screencasts

A training video screencast:

With some of the newer screencasting tools, a teacher can mark up a student work and provide audio feedback at the same time.
Here is a sample of that:
The Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy includes an article here entitled Talking with Students through Screencasting: Experimentations with Video Feedback to Improve Student Learning. The article includes the positive aspects of adding video and audio feedback to a paper and the increased engagement factors and the additional revision of work completed by students after they receive the feedback.

Here is a content-based screencast created by a teacher for his students.

A first grade teacher created this screencast on symmetry.

Below is a screencast created by a teacher dealing with advanced searching in DES.
And here is a professional development screencast dealing with how to become a DEN STAR.

Tools to use for the preparation/production of screencasts

Storyboards and Scripts

Screencasting tools for iOS

Screencasting tools for Android

Online and computer-based screencasting tools


When developing a screencast, it is often useful to look at rubrics created by others to make sure you are on the right track. Here are a few to take a look at.

Additional resources

The Screencasting Handbook by Ian Ozsvald is now available as a downloadable PDF under a Creative Commons license. It is intended for professional screencasters, and is a few years old, but there are plenty of tips and tricks for any screen caster included!
Have you created screencasts for your students? Please share the URLs in the comments! Thanks!


Oehrli, Jo Angela, Julie Piacentine, Amanda Peters and Benjamin Nanamaker.  “Do Screencasts Really Work?  Assessing Student Learning Through Instructional Screencasts.”  ACRL Annual Conference, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  1 April 2011.
Oud, Joanne. “Guidelines for Effective Online Instruction Using Multimedia Screencasts.” Reference Services Review, 37 no. 2 (2009): 164–177.