Icepocalypse 2014 – How to have class if you can’t get to campus

weatherThe winter has been kind to our class schedules so far this semester, but it looks like there could be freezing rain on Sunday.  How will you keep your class moving through the content you need to cover if you can’t get to campus?  Consider recording a “screencast.”  There are online tools that allow you to open your PowerPoint slides (or any other media you want to show on screen) and narrate with the microphone and webcam that is built-in to your laptop.  Using screencast-o-matic and YouTube you can record your lesson, post it to your YouTube account, and then place the YouTube link in Moodle for students to view at their convenience.  Or you could simply email the link to all your students.  Screencast-o-matic is web-based so it works on all platforms; Windows and Mac.  You can even edit, add text overlays, zoom in, etc. with the paid version of the app.

Think about the possibilities with a tool like screencast-o-matic.  You could record test reviews for students to view instead of taking up class time.  You could demonstrate difficult skills or illustrate troublesome concepts that tend to confuse your students every semester.  If flipping your classroom is one of your goals, mastering the creation of your own multimedia content is an important first step.

Tips for good screencasts:

  • Clear audio is more important than high quality video.  It doesn’t matter what the students are seeing on the screen if they can’t hear you clearly.  Test your computer microphone quality before recording a lecture.  Consider using a headset with a microphone close to your mouth.
  • Lighting: If you are going to include webcam footage, make sure the lighting is adequate.  For facial shots, try not to put your head between the camera and a light source.  Keep the light source behind the camera.
  • Keep it short.  Consider “chunking” a lecture into separate subject matter explaining one concept at a time.  Try not to go over 15 minutes; limiting your talk to five minutes or less is even better.

Here is an example of a screencast that I recorded with screencast-o-matic demonstrating how to add content in Moodle: