Using Screencasting Software to Improve Student Learning

A screencast is a digital video and audio recording of what occurs on a presenter's computer screen, and it can be used to create sophisticated, information-rich multimedia presentations. The word "screencast" was first coined by columnist Jon Udell in 2005. Udell first used the word in an article published in InfoWorld, describing the benefits of using this technique to show his readers how computer applications worked. In a screencast, the presenter records all the screen activity and images continuously to complete a designated task. Audio can be recorded simultaneously or afterwards in postproduction along with sound effects and music tracks.

Screencasting can be integrated across the curriculum and into many learning activities. Screencasts are an effective instructional format that can be used for tutorials, demonstrations, digital storytelling, and narrated PowerPoint presentations. During the video editing process a variety of media can be imported into a screencast project, such as video clips, photos, music, and animations. Screencasting is a multimedia alternative to video recording, is easy to use, and helps fill a need for dynamic, engaging content.

Screencast Benefits
As computer technology continues to evolve and advance, many teachers from K–12 and higher education use screencasting as an online or stand-alone teaching tool with traditional teaching approaches to enhance and engage the learning experience of their students. Sugar, Brown, and Luterbach noted that screencasting as an instructional strategy may be viewed as a modern descendent of instructional film and video.

A screencast can include many multimedia elements — music, sound effects, audio, and graphics — along with text, making any content topic engaging while also appealing to different learning modalities. Mayer's theory of multimedia learning suggests that animated presentations that have a corresponding audio component, essentially moving picture and sound, provide a more effective learning experience than a more traditional alternative (e.g., a sequence of still images accompanied by descriptive text).

Screencasting has emerged as a prominent teaching tool on the Internet. There are several advantages for both the instructor and the student. For the teacher a screencast is an efficient and effective means of describing a step-by-step process, explaining a particular concept, or presenting a PowerPoint presentation with narration. Teachers have the ability to craft succinct and concise presentations because each screencast can be edited. The inclusion of video-based instruction in online environments, such as screencasting, can have positive effects on student learning and can be pedagogically equivalent to their face-to-face instruction counterparts.

For the student, screencasting allows them to learn by example, seeing for instance a step-by-step sequence in great detail or viewing a screencast video directly related to lesson content. In addition, students can watch a screencast video anytime, anywhere and have complete control of the lesson, which means they review any part of the presentation as needed. Screencasts can be delivered via streaming or downloaded in their entirety for later viewing.

The ability to pause or review content also gives students the option to move at their own pace, which is not always feasible in the classroom. Screencasts are excellent for those learners who just need an aural as well as a visual explanation of the content presented. Screencasting is a perfect medium to explain difficult technical concepts to anyone with a non-technical background. Teachers can also use screencasting for a variety of other classroom activates such as reviewing lesson content and presenting online lectures and professional development.

Source: Michael Ruffini, EDUCAUSE Review