So just how do you do it? By a screencast novice

Alison Nicholson, T&L Coordinator IWLP French, writes:

Inspired by Cindy’s range of catchy, fun screencasts (I particularly like the Powtoon ones with accompanying music) and Emma’s ones based on Prezi with beautiful eye-catching photos, I decided to make my own screencast for IWLP French students. Our students are obviously non-specialist language learners, and whilst they can do grammar exercises or speak a few sentences quite quickly, at the lower levels they often have difficulty writing a good quality essay in French. I wanted to explain to them how to

  • Answer the question
  • Be accurate and make every word count
  • Demonstrate that they have learned structures and vocabulary covered in class
  • And share with them the marking criteria

But in the past, when I have tried to do this to a whole class, or even individually, I could see the glazed expressions forming quickly. I needed to put my points across in a format that was visual and always available, to view again and again, and refer back to when working at home or revising for a final exam. Perhaps a screencast could be the answer?

It might be useful for colleagues who are yet to produce a screencast to see the various steps as I worked on this project:

  1. Firstly I produced a script which I shared with a colleague to check for clarity and thoroughness. For a 5 minute screencast, the script was just over a page of A4.
  2. For the visuals, I went on to which was very helpful. Nevertheless, producing my first Prezi was possibly the most time-consuming part. I chose a template where the order of the visuals was already predetermined, which made it easier.
  3. I practised a few times, reading the script aloud and noting when to click on to another visual, when to pause and when to emphasise a word
  4. Finally, I was ready to record, helped by David, using Camtasia on a University laptop, and speaking into a microphone, which really improved the sound quality. The second take was good enough, so the recording only took an hour or so. We had a bit of a problem with the quality of the visual but David sorted that out…
  5. The last stage involved creating a YouTube account (easy once you have a Google account), and uploading the screencast. This provides you with a URL so you can upload the link into Blackboard or send to colleagues and students directly… Bit of a problem here as the laptop was logged directly into another colleague’s YouTube account so for a while my screencast had a different ‘author’ – but this was solved by a helpful colleague in ITS – something to check before you upload.

So now it is there on YouTube for all to see, though most of the ‘hits’ to date are probably mine …. I enjoyed creating this screencast enormously, so much so that my next one is already being planned. This one will be on independent language learning, and use Powtoon (maybe borrowing Cindy’s music).