Faculty Focus


Using Screencasting to Engage and Build Community with Online Learners

In the online classroom, faculty work hard to engage their distance learners and build a strong sense of academic community in the electronic setting. Screencasting can be an effective and easy way to do this. Screencasting allows you to take a digital video of what you are doing on your computer desktop, and most screencasting tools allow you to narrate your video while recording. The possible uses for screencasting are endless; these include providing course orientations, delivering instructional lectures, providing feedback, and encouraging student collaboration.

  • Provide course orientations: A faculty member might create a brief screencast to provide a welcome and visual orientation to a class. This can be especially helpful for new online learners. The instructor might log into the online classroom as a student and record a “tour” of the class, including how to submit assignments, where to check grades, and other important student tasks.
  • Deliver instructional lectures: Screencasting also allows the professor the opportunity to provide some direct instruction in the online classroom. Imagine a math teacher’s screencast that demonstrates her working a problem while narrating an explanation of the steps. Or perhaps a computer teacher can explain a complicated process while visually showing in the screencast what is occurring.
  • Provide student feedback: Screencasting can be a highly effective tool for giving feedback. It’s a great way to have an asynchronous “conference” with students about their work. The ability for the instructor to provide narrative comments while showing corrections on the computer screen appeals to a wide variety of learning styles and preferences.
  • Encourage student sharing: An important online learning opportunity in many classes occurs when students are encouraged to share their work, and screencasting can take this sharing to a powerful level. In a screencast, students can articulate what they have learned and can explain their work process. Furthermore, the students who view these screencasts can learn even more from the explanations of their peers, and the instructor can gain valuable formative assessment information from these screencasts as well.

Students respond positively to the use of screencasting in their online classes. They believe it adds an important dimension to the course, and they enjoy the more personalized approach screencasting can offer.

To explore some free screencasting tools, visit the following online resources:
Jing – http://www.jingproject.com/
Screencast-O-Matic – http://screencast-o-matic.com/
Free Screencast – http://freescreencast.com/
ScreenToaster – http://www.screentoaster.com/
ScreenCastle – http://screencastle.com/

Dr. Jacqueline Mangieri is an Associate Professor in the School of Education and in the Student Success program at American Public University System.