Adding voice-over and other enhancements to lecture materials and putting them online to give the ‘flipped classroom' a try.
This is the second in a series of articles examining software tools and methods for placing and using learning materials online, or distributing them via other digital methods, so that instructors who wish to can have a go at reverse instruction in courses that they teach.
For those new to the idea, reverse instruction (a.k.a. ‘flipping the classroom') basically consists of having students consume learning content that was traditionally delivered during class sessions outside of the classroom as homework, leaving more face-to-face classroom time to work on assignments and review and reinforce learning. This concept is becoming increasingly popular, and if you wish to consider trying it, it's nice to know that it's really not that hard to try. It also doesn't necessarily have to cost you anything to experiment with as long as you've already got a computer and Internet access. For more about how teachers are using reverse instruction and why it makes sense, check out the articles in this post.
Last week we started by looking at a few ways to put existing files (presentations in Powerpoint or other slide deck apps, PDFs, Word Docs, etc.), or new content, online so students can access them. This week we focus on screencasting tools, which let you record screen activity and voice-over on your computer and then prepare your captured playback for distribution or Internet access.
Screencasting tools provide a great way to take existing content and make these materials more effective as a self-contained tools. If you have slides or documents that you often project or hand out and lecture about, you can record and capture voice-over, and then make these materials readily accessible to your students. With those capabilities under your belt, you may soon wish to consider more advanced tools for editing and for adding in highlights, layover graphics or texts, hot links, and more.
There are quite a few good free screencasting applications for creating short clips. If you try some of these and find they work well, later you may want to invest a little in a more advanced program, or have your school provide a tool if they license one, so that you can take it up a notch and produce longer, more enhanced digital learning materials.
A few popular free screencasting applications
There a lot of free apps out on the web for screencasting, most of which also have paid versions that provide more capabilities. Here's an introduction to a few of them.
One of the first screencasting tools published and still around (and kept up to date), Screencast-O-Matic works with both the Mac and the PC, and requires no installation, which is nice. Access Screencast-O-Matic here. There's a quick demo video right there on the home page. You can record and host 15 minute clips for free, and unlimited clips with their Pro version which is only $12 a year (I've heard a lot of good things about Screencast-O-Matic, but haven't looked it in a few years – I didn't realize it provided so much for so little)!
The same folks who make Camtasia (more on that later) make this popular app that lets you easily capture screen activity, record voice-over, and publish clips up to 5 minutes long. Jing works on the PC and the Mac and it's pretty easy to get started with. Jing uses Screencast.com as it's online video distribution methodology, and you can also download the SWF format files to distribute them your own way. The Pro version let's you create MP4 files, but is still limited to 5 minute clips.
Here's the Jing website, and this “How It's Used” page gives a great overview of how educators and trainers are using it. I've used Jing myself and really liked it, but I soon graduated to Camtasia as my needs evolved.
Screenr is another popular, free, web-based screencasting tool that works with the Mac and PC and offers additional functionality at a price. The makers of Screenr also make a suite of e-Learning tools, and host this e-Learning Community with tutorials, forums, community blogs and more. With 100,000 e-learning professionals registered, this is a unique and interesting twist to Screenr and the related apps from the folks who provide it.
There are 7 more free screencasting tools listed in the post, “Comparing 12 Free Screencasting Tools” from early 2010 (recently updated to remove some apps that are no longer available). This a great way to check out some of these tools and find one that's right for you.
Kicking it up a notch with paid screencasting software
If you find you like using these types of tools and want to produce more advanced content for delivering materials outside of the classroom, paid screencasting applications come in many price ranges with a wide array of functions. Personally, I'm a big fan of Camtasia, which I use to produce the videos on the EmergingEdTech Youtube channel. Camtasia is available to educators for $179 for the PC and $99 for the Mac, so it's not too expensive.
For more paid screencasting tools, here's a pretty recent article that covers a bunch of ‘commercial' applications (scroll down, the paid apps are in a section after the freebies listed at the top).
I searched the App Store for screencasting apps for the iPad but found none. If any readers know of any, please drop a comment and let us know about them (thanks!).
Next week we'll continue the series with a look at how you can approach reverse instruction from a very different perspective, by creating your own “flipped textbook” (as discussed in this post about Kieran Matheison and his work).
Related Posts (if the above topic is of interest, you might want to check these out):
Reverse Instruction Tools And Techniques (Part 1)
Reverse Instruction – A Tale Of Two Students and Active Skill Learning
Comparing 12 Free Screencasting Tools