What’s the big deal about Screencasting?

By Chloe Hynes (PDNorth Social Media Comms)

I first heard about Screencasting about 5 years ago during a small action research project being carried out at work between a few colleagues and myself. We were exploring ways of giving learners feedback that’s individual to them, personalised and not following the ‘one size fits all’ department wide approach of the time. One of my colleagues decided to use Screencast’s which was an absolute game changer for me and opened up a world of tech used right in adult learning.

So, what is Screencast-o-matic?

Screencast is a program that allows you to record (visually and audibly) your screen. It also allows you to record yourself by webcam either at the same time as your screen recording or just you on your own.

You can record as many screencasts as you like for free but the maximum is 15mins.

You can upload to your own Screencast account, Youtube or download as a video file and do with it what you like!

Screencast-O-Matic have a tutorial video that shows how easy it is to use. To access go here: https://screencast-o-matic.com and click ‘Watch Our Video’.

To visualise what a screencast looks like, here’s one I prepared earlier…



A little comment about money

Before I get into the thick of Screencast approaches and issues/considerations, please note that this blog is exploring the FREE version of Screencast which I believe most practitioners would be accessing. However, there is an Educational paid for version with many more bells and whistles to play around with including video editing and full integration with Moodle and Google Classroom etc.

For solo payment plans (that detail all the features you get), see: https://screencast-o-matic.com/plans#solo and for the team, go to: https://screencast-o-matic.com/plans#team

Using Screencast with learners

The colleague I mentioned above explored using it whilst giving feedback to learners on their written work in Word. Our learners were ESOL learners so listening to your tutor’s feedback for some was much more productive than trying to read hand written notes. The audio feedback allowed our learners to go back and rewatch/relisten which they can’t do when they receive feedback in class (unless they record you). He originally trialled this with our highest learners who were Entry 3.

I also had a bash using this same technique but with the lower levels but instead of recording Word, I would scan in a piece of their handwritten work and save as a PDF. Then, I would create a screencast highlighting/ circling/ underlining certain parts and talking through their work. I found for the lower levels it was best to also film my face as I spoke so learners could see my facial expressions and my lips moving. For all learners it was a good way for them to get used to my accent and my voice as their teacher complete with regional inflections!

If you and the learners have the technology, a really good way to reuse a video like this, could be for learners to transcribe what you’re saying by adding subtitles on Youtube (or writing a script on paper).

In any classroom use of screencast, consider how you can reuse the video you’ve created so you’re economical with your production time. Even better is if your learners like using it, they could create their own. For example:

  • Ask learners to walk through and complete a mathematical problem on their screen. This can be added to a revision bank used with by learners in the class.
  • For literature explorations : ask a learner to describe a passage, highlighting phrases/sections on the screen as they go to highlight figurative language etc. You could create a reaction video or just notes (for the whole group) – but the main brunt of this activity is providing the learner with time to think and verbalise their thoughts before committing to paper.
  • After a learner watches your feedback they redraft their work and make another video to you explaining how they have improved it.
  • Ask one learner to watch another learner’s video and ask them to transcribe it or interact with it in some way.
  • Make videos with wrong information in or missing information (like an audio version of a cloze task/gap fill) that you can reuse with other classes.

Using Screencast with colleagues

I’ve used Screencast with peers and colleagues mainly to visualise how to use specific technologies whether in the classroom (e.g. Padlet above!), organisational (e.g. Google Drive) or personal (e.g. how to add a signature to an email). Since working with the PDNorth team, I’ve began to curate these in a more organised fashion via the PDNorth Youtube. Similarly, I’ve heard about PDNorth professional exchanges who’ve created screencasts as the APs in their organisation to share on their Moodle with their colleagues. Another group made a digital learning wall in the staffroom with QR codes to Youtube videos and screencasts.

Whilst screencasting in this way and for this purpose is great for staff CPD on the go / in your own time, it’s always better if the workload is shared. Whilst this is easier said than done in practice, there’s always something you can learn from a colleague and there’s always something you can share with another.  

Screencast considerations

-You only get 15 mins! However, I think any more than this would be too long anyway and you’d lose your audience. — Whilst you can pause and resume, if you make a mistake you can’t edit it out.

-The close captions/subtitles process isn’t user friendly.

-You need to download a recorder which may not be possible on work computers depending on your system permissions.

-Depending on how you use it: it could just have one time use.

+ / – If using for feedback: it may be easier for the tutor to verbalise and show what they mean than write it down and it may be the best way for the learner to receive that feedback. Likewise however, tutors may find it more time consuming than writing written feedback and the learners may not give time to watching the video, not have the technology to do so or may ignore it completely.

+ It doesn’t require wifi to record (once the recorder has been downloaded).

+ You have a choice of where you can upload it. Including the ability to download as a video file and share/upload however you choose (rare with free apps).

+ simple and easy to use meaning a lot of our learners are able to get on with it.

+ It can be a reusable and recyclable resource.  

+ It’s so personable!

+ It can be used by teachers and learners alike. I’m sure there are so many more ways than what I’ve tried out and I’d love to hear about all the other ways that Screencast-O-Matic has been used!

#HaveAGo