‘Screencast Bank’ is up and running!!!

BankMore exciting news-The ‘Screencast Bank’ section of our website is now populated with a whole range of different screencasts. Head over to this section on the titles bar and you will find a variety of UG and PG student information and support screencasts, staff training, module summary and screencast project overviews.

I created the majority of these last Autumn for staff and students in my own School of Politics, Economics and International relations. Most of these have been made using screen captured Prezis but one or two are screen captured VideoScribes.

Together they have registered 1,924 views since November 2013. The vast majority of viewers are Reading students although surprisingly Google Analytics tells me that my screencasts have been seen in Sydney (12 views), Florence (5 views), Alexandria (2 views) and Monrovia (3 views). I’m actually registering views in almost every continent!

This ‘Screencast Bank’ should be a useful place to start if you are thinking about different ways of incorporating screen capture in your teaching or student support provision.

Just finally-there are no prizes for spotting that, at last, I bought myself an actual microphone a few weeks ago rather than relying on the internal microphone on my laptop. The sound quality on the floating island screen cast overview is infinitely better. At last it sounds like I have left what might have appeared to be a noisy tin room! Exciting times!

Hugely exciting weekend with VideoScribe!!!!

With the end of term last Friday and the end of another unbelievably busy exam season I found myself with a few spare hours on Saturday morning. At long last I had some breathing space to find out more about an intriguing piece of software a colleague from Modern Languages showed me all the way back at the start of June-Sparkol’s VideoScribe. Having failed to find the software the first time around (because I was spelling it incorrectly on Google) I was thrilled to finally find it and….oh my goodness….it was worth the wait! Thank you Enza Verruccio. You were right. Videoscribe really is fantastic. Like Prezi, VideoScribe is incredibly simple to use, highly intuitive and is accompanied by user friendly, short video tutorials. Within half an hour I had a made short video and by the end of the weekend I had created a two minute piece of animation.

I was already looking for a way to create 1-2 minute module summaries for the benefit of prospective and current students.  Screen captured Prezis were the obvious answer but, having used Prezi all year, VideoScribe gave me a new avenue to explore-new graphics, new animation possibilities, a new style of student support material. I had to e-mail this to Cindy as soon as it was finished…and here it is!

BFD summary

I’ll be improving my VideoScribe skills as I create a whole suite of around 15 module summaries over the summer but what an exciting way to start the post-term period!

Screen capture success at Maastricht and Aston! Emma Mayhew


I’ve had great fun over the last week presenting my screen capture work and introducing Reading’s new GRASS project at two major conferences.

I wasn’t actually able to go the First European Conference on Teaching and Learning Politics, IR and International Studies on 26th June due to the French air traffic control strike and a prior engagement in Bordeaux BUT the conference organisers very kindly let me present virtually. I made a screen cast of my presentation which was rather appropriate given that I was outlining the varied and flexible nature of screen capture technology! I was thrilled to hear that some members of the audience were “blown away” by the use of screen capture technology and even more thrilled to be asked to give follow up talks at two other universities.

Following initial ‘virtual’ success I was excited to be attending the Higher Education Academy’s Annual Conference in Aston on Wednesday in person. I was right to be excited. The lunch and cake buffet tea break was absolutely amazing AND my session was really well received. I’ve spent quite a bit of my day today sending links to my screen casts to interested conference delegates from Edinburgh all the way to Denmark.

I’ve included a link below to my three minute Maastricht presentation which offers a very quick summary of my screen capture work and how this feeds into the GRASS project. Please click on the floating island!


The flurry of progress surrounding the GRASS project is great to see at the moment and we’re still a full two months before the project actually launches. This will be an exciting year!

A surreal Open Day experience. Cindy Becker.

My first foray into a GRASS project public initiative has been great fun – and, luckily, very successful. As a result of watching Emma’s publicity screencast, used on Open Days and such like, I decided to do something similar. We don’t do cake, sadly, so I couldn’t use Emma’s strongest selling point, but we do have a departmental YouTube channel and so I decided to use that instead.


A colleague in my department, Nicola Abram, kindly looped our various YouTube screencasts so that they could play throughout the day (thanks, Nicola!). We then had an office set up (our Head of School kindly donated her office for this) and, by using a mobile projector and screen, with a semi-circle of chairs, we had a small viewing room.

theatre curtains

This was set up right beside the larger room in which we display students’ work and talk with our visitors on a one-to-one basis, so whenever that got too busy and visitors could see that they would have to wait, it was natural for them to take a moment to sit down in the viewing room. We didn’t give any background information to the screencasts beyond that they were produced by students and staff for our YouTube channel, but that seemed to be enough. The screencasts gave, I believe, a genuine flavour of how our department works and what we are trying to achieve. I hope by the next Open Day to have added to our offerings with a suite of screencasts describing all of our modules.

I have learnt that, by showing both student and staff screencasts, there was not too much emphasis placed on the screencasts as the ‘last word’ in any of the topics that were covered – it was more of a taster and I think that our visitors saw that. Next time, I might leave a sheet with some explanation of what is being shown so that viewers can read as well as view. The screencasts certainly generated interest and gave us an ‘added attraction’ on the day. Another colleague, Mary Morrissey, added even more interest in the room at points in the day by using it to demonstrate rare book handling.

rare books

As one of the principles behind the GRASS project is to assess what we are already doing well and then to improve on it, I am pleased to think that this experience falls into that remit. Overall this initiative can be judged a success, but it has also given me ideas about how I could build on that for our next Open Days.

The initiative also gave me one of the most surreal moments of the Open Day. I was striding along to the lecture theatre, running through in my head what I was going to say to our visitors about academic placements. As I thought to myself ‘Good morning, my name is Dr Cindy Becker and I’m….’, I heard exactly that phrase coming from the open door of our screencast room. Most peculiar!