When it comes to using technology to figure out how to do something I do not know how to do, I am the queen of the web search. I will use my computer or my smartphone to look up a tutorial (usually video) to walk me through the step-by-steps of how to complete whatever the given task may be. For example, when I wanted a refresher on crochet stitches after not using the skill for years, I was off to YouTube for a quick search…30 minutes later, I’d partially finished my first cute mouse baby bootie for a friend’s soon-to-be little boy. The internet is a resource we often go to, without hesitation in our daily lives.
When my quandaries are more of a computer-based or technical nature, I go to the web once again…to hunt for screencasts. Screencasts allow us to get first person tutorials as if we were sitting at the computer with the person teaching it. They offer video of the screen of the instructor as they go through the steps of a given task in real time, often with recorded audio for oral instructions throughout the process.
Not only do I use screencasts to learn things myself, but I also use them to teach my students. When I am out and have a substitute, I have uploaded screencasts of the whole group portions of my lessons to my class portal. This allows for the continuity of teaching style and vocabulary my students are used to. It also allows for substitutes, who may not be as tech savvy or do not know the specific methods and strategies students are learning, to teach the computer-based lessons I need completed in my absence. I have taught my students where those lessons will be and how to access them in my absence, it’s win-win!
I also use screencasts when I am in the classroom with students. When I foresee that a few students may have trouble with setting up a document or completing a computer-based task, I create a quick 30 second to 2 minute long screencast so they can refer to it if needed. The best part about it is that students who don’t need it get started right away, those that do need help watch the screencast without my intervention and get started as well. In the meantime, I am able to provide small group scaffolding to students who need it. I have even used screencasts to record quick tutorials for staff at my school, like how to set up your laptop to print to a satellite printer and hold the document until you get there to print it out.
So how do you get started? First, you will need to have access to a computer, preferably one with a microphone. Then…well the easiest way to teach you how to screencast is by posting a screencast! I am not one to reinvent the wheel, so here are two different screencasts that explain two common screencast creators readily available.