Monday, August 15, 2011

Screencasting & interactive videos for teacher development

Using screencasting software or services to record what you do on your computer has become, in my humble opinion, one of the most useful tools for teacher development and potentially useful for teaching and learning in the EFL-ESL classroom.

There are free services like Screenr, CamStudio, Jing, Screen-O-matic, Tildee and paid software like Camtasia to make these recordings. Screencasting can be used to:

  1. show how to use a web tool (How-to videos)
  2. give feedback to participants (eg. writing or online projects)
  3. video lectures (eg. showing how certain skill works; giving short explanations on language aspects)
  4. make presentations

Screencasting is not only a great web tool for teachers, but students can also use it to showcase a project; to describe their online portfolios; for making presentations; to describe a picture among other things.

I have been using screencasting for some teacher development courses I have participated as moderator or comoderator this year. One of them is the English Village Online. I used it as co-moderator in a podcasting course to show participants how to record and publish podcasts  and to provide feedback to them on their final projects (inspired on Russell Stunnard’s work about screencasting & feedback). Also I have used screencasting to record tutorials for The Learning Technologies for the Classroom course offered by the BritishCouncil (Venezuela) to show participants how to:

1, have access to the course in Moodle and give them a walkthrough on the course content.
2. use Wiziq as our virtual classroom
3. create a blog for participants’ reflections
4. use certain web tools introduced in the course modules.

For this course, I recorded 11 tutorials in total using Camtasia. If you are going to use a free screencasting service you have to make sure you can download or save the video to your computer and that it is in one of the format accepted by Youtube (.AVI, .3GP, .WMV, .MOV, .MP4, .MPEG, .FLV, .MKV). Making this interactive video compilation would make it easier for participants to have access to tutorials from one single place. This would keep participants from having to bookmark and watch the tutorials from separated links. 

Now how did I come up with this idea? I remembered having bookmarked this article in Diigo called How to make an interactive lesson in Youtube. And it suddenly hit me I could sort of do more or less the same thing making a video compilation instead of a lesson.

How did I create this interactive video?

I carefully read the article and watch the videos from Knewton about preparing for the GMAT. Next I had to "migrate" (so to speak) the tutorials I had uploaded from BlipTV to Youtube. Once I had done that I started planning out the video compilation. From this plan, I realized I had to record some screencasts to take participants to the tutorials in an orderly fashion. To record this videos I used my webcam, Powerpoint and Camtasia. I recorded 5 screencasts:

1. The first one called "Home" was recorded to greet and invite participants to start watching the videos by clicking on "Tutorials".
3. The second one called the "Main Menu" grouped tutorials into "Access", "Blogger" and "Modules".
  4. The last three are "submenus" for Access, Blogger and Modules. These menus provide access to the tutorials. 

Next I started adding spotlights to the menu button images. These buttons were created in Photoshop and saved as JPEG. I created some other buttons to make navigation smooth from one video to another or to go back to "Home" or "Main Menu". I created these buttons from Youtube using "Notes" in "Annotation".

To learn about adding spotlights go to How to make an interactive lesson in Youtube.

Here’s my interactive video tutorial compilation for the Learning Technologies for the Classroom course. 

Just to close this post, I recently learned from the fantastic Richard Byrne that there's a service called Viewbix for making interactive videos. Check it out and let me know what you think about it.


yasencion said...

Qué manera tan práctica de guiar a los estudiantes de un curso a través de todos los tutoriales. También estaba pensando que en una clase de gramática puedes pedirle a los propios estudiantes que hagan tutoriales explicando puntos gramaticales a sus compañeros y los publican como un catálogo en YouTube. Hay una aplicación móbil que se llama Show me que podría funcionar muy bien para eso.

Miguel Mendoza said...

Sí. Totally agree. Yes, grammar explanations! That's a fantastic idea. One more to add to the list. Thanks!!!!!!!

Evelyn said...

Excellent post, Mike! You are a very innovative teacher. Congratulations and thanks a million for sharing such a valuable information. ;D I'm going to try it with my distance education courses. I need it, urgently!!! I'll let you know how it works in our own university context.

Miguel Mendoza said...

Thanks Eve:)

Marina said...

Thanks Miguel, for taking the time to do that for us. You've been a truly great tutor. Thanks a lot!

Miguel Mendoza said...

It was my pleasure Marina!=)

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