Saturday Morning Cartoons: Screencasts

I’ve been wanting to try Screencasting for awhile. I went to a great session during a mini-conference by a dynamic middle school librarian last March. She asks groups of students to create screencasts to o use during orientation and save for students to review when needed. Things like book reviews, directions for student logins, and library procedures.

I’m not sure I’m ready to do it with groups of students until I try it myself. I think screencasts can be really valuable for both students and staff. At the elementary level though, I don’t see as many uses for students quite yet. My thinking may very well evolve.

First, an explanation (just in case). Screencasting is narrating the action on your computer screen and recording the screen as well as your voice to create a tutorial or presentation as a video.

I wanted to give it a try in a simple way first so I created a tutorial for Destiny about how to create a quick printable list of needed materials.

I say “quick” because it should be quick for the viewer. It would have been “quicker” to record if I had followed a few simple steps first…in reality, it took me about 45 minutes to record my first 3 minute tutorial and it is nothing fancy!

I used Screencast-O-Matic and paid the $15 Pro fee. When in the conference session learning we were presented with a great overview of the pros and cons of several choices and this was the one most highly recommended. I decided just to go for it because $15 is super reasonable and I think I’ll make enough videos to warrant the fee.

I connected my headset. I did buy one a few months ago with Screencasts in mind. I wanted one with the microphone and earphones integrated. I have a Mac Air and bought a Cyber Acoustics pair. It connects with a USB and is ready to go right away. If you get a new pair of headphones with the microphone you’ll want to read the package carefully to be sure they work PC or Mac and for your operating system.

Screencast-O-Matic has some special directions for Macs with the newest operating system. I had to download a program instead of using the web-based program. Once I followed these steps then I had all of the tools in place to start recording.

When doing your first recording you are able to set your screen size. If you don’t want to record all your toolbars or the extra program icons that float around the screen you’re using, you can exclude those. In the video above I didn’t want to show the chat window I had open with a friend of mine at the same time.

Click the button to start recording and a 3 second countdown will show on your screen so that you can take one last deep breath! I just started to talk. And then I started over. And talked some more. And started over….

Each time I got a little bit farther. Next time I do a recording I’ll try it this way:

-Record one version all the way through even if there are mistakes.
-Stop and reflect and jot down a quick outline of the steps and any key points
-Record again

I think I’ll record fewer versions if I get one chance to remember all the steps and then make a plan. This might be different if you are recording an entire lesson or a long video. Writing the outline would be a good first step.

I would like to record a few more tutorials just to practice using the tool. I think the videos are a great way to offer resources to teachers for access on their own time. It’s part of building 24/7 library services.

I would also like to create some tutorials and orientations for students to use during class. I can show them in class the first them and then make them available for the future. They can be ready if we have new students or if students want to show their parents something they did in class.

Creating the videos in advance lets me really think about the wording and presentation. If I do the lesson 4 or 5 times with classes then each class will receive the same message. I can be present to provide better intervention with individual students. Again, the videos can be available to the students. I want to do a screencast of my Destiny search review for the older students. When we do independent practice in our lab computers, students can put on their headphones and go back and forth to the video for review if they forget something. They can listen to the video as many times as they need.

Those are my thoughts! I’m going to work on a few more Destiny tutorials for the practice. I am planning a Destiny post in a few days rounding up all of the written tutorials I’ve made. The videos might add another layer of understanding for some of the things I get asked about doing.

What do you think you might try screencasting?


  1. Great post…my wheels are turning…thank you for the inspiration!

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