With the advent of powerhouses like YouTube and Vimeo, and the popularity of the Khan AcademyMedia College, and thousands of other video resources, it’s become ridiculously easy to find, create, and share videos. For many of us, watching a video can be more pleasant than reading several paragraphs (or pages) of instructions to complete a task.How do you think students would feel about watching a short lesson on clouds and precipitation as you explain it using smartboard software? Or watching a video on adding fractions for homework followed by a few problems to solve at home? There is only one way to find out, and it’s really easy.

A screencast is a video recording of your computer screen. You can create screencasts of anything you can think of for your classroom. Let’s consider a few examples:

  • You have just explained the concept of photosynthesis in class. One student was absent that day – or even that entire week – why not send them a video to watch as a preview so when they get back they’re not completely clueless about what you’re talking about and what their peers are doing.
  • Long division is the topic. Like any good teacher, you’re all about having review material handy for students before your summative assessment. Save time and paper – create a screencast. Post your screencast on your blog, wiki, or website and ask students to watch the video at home. Attach a few problems and have your students to solve and bring them back to class for review.
  • Cultures and countries unit and your students must create mind maps to outline their final projects. You want to hit the ground running in class and not waste any time creating Popplet accounts. Record the steps on how to create an account, have them start putting their thoughts down, and take advantage of everyone’s Internet connections at home. Less time troubleshooting, more time being productive.

Screencast-O-Matic is one of best and easiest screencast apps out there. It’s free, intuitive, and cross-platform. You can choose to record with your microphone, add a video recording from your webcam, or both. Use it with A Web Whiteboard App to draw on your screen as you explain whatever you want. Videos as

a supplement are powerful. You’ll be flipping your classroom around, differentiating with your students, and perhaps most importantly, extending learning beyond the classroom.

Consider screencasts the next time you’re photocopying a class set of a 5-page review packet. They take effort to create, but are not difficult. You can always find ready-made ones out in cyberspace. But kids prefer to hear that familiar, heart-warming voice of their favorite teacher.

This post was created based on a PD workshop I gave at my school. Special thanks to Sergio Martinez for his superior organizational skills and helping put all of it together. 

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