Save time and become a 24/7 teacher

A bit of a practical post this week.  When I was teaching (and we’ve all done it) I used to get frustrated at times when our students didn’t listen to instructions, often when using ICT be not always the case.  My solution used to be to create a poster with pictures and steps for a variety of different tasks.  This became the first port of call if students had trouble remembering what to do and they had to access it first before coming to me.

This was all well and good if it was something like logging onto the network, adding a picture to PowerPoint or something of a general nature like that.  However, if a child came up to me and asked about how to work out, for example, a maths problem we had been working on, a poster wouldn’t necessarily cut it.  Well these days the answer is simple, use a screen cast.

Screen casting is the digital version of an instructional poster.  Ok, actually it is much more than that, but in essence it is a simple video of how to do something.  Why it is called screen casting is because the video is actually a recording of what you are doing on the screen.  So simply fire up your screen casting software (I’ll mention this later), press record, do something on your screen like show how to insert an image into PowerPoint, whilst talking an explaining the process as you go.  At the end you will have a video of the process plus an audio explanation of how to do it.

Once you have your screen cast, add it to your server or on a wiki/blog/website and then let your students know where to find it.  Then they can look at it over and over again whenever they need to and they don’t have to keep asking you the same question every time. If it’s on the web somewhere like your own wiki, blog or even Youtube or Teachertube the students can access it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Realistically, the time it takes to create a screen cast is literally the length of the recording you want to make.  With a little bit of time put in at the start, you could actually save time throughout your teaching week.

Which brings me to my next point.  You could screen cast an actual lesson concept, say on fractions, prior to/during/after the lesson then save it somewhere so the students can then refer to for ‘just in time’ teaching during the day or at home or even on the weekend if need be.  So suddenly you are providing a level of 24/7 support for your students (and parents!) without actually having to physically be there to answer their queries every minute of the day or at times when they need support but you cannot physically provide it.

An other way to use screen casting is as an assessment tool where students use the same process to convey an understanding of a topic or concept.  A brilliant use is in maths and in particular the way Eric Marcos, aka Math Train, uses screen casting for his students to explain their understanding of concepts, but also as way for kids to teach other kids.  Go to www.mathtrain.tv to check it out.  Even if you don’t use screen casting, this site is a great one for maths resource videos of concepts.  Here’s an example:

So if I’ve motivated you enough to try screen casting, what should you use.  Well for paid software try Screenflow for Macs or Camtasia for PC’s.  If you have an SmartBoard, the built in recorder in notebook will do it for you otherwise for freebies try Jing, camstudio, screentoaster or screencastle.  Screentoaster and screencastle are actually web based so there is no need to download any software, you use them whilst connected to the web, which means they have a few less features than the software programs.

Have fun and use your new found spare time wisely!