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D4L Technologies Module

Technological Tools for Teaching

Screencasting assignment from Michelle Holsuch Simmons' class

 Screen Casting Assignment:

Description: This assignment gives you the opportunity to create a brief instructional screencast designed for users of an information environment of your choice.

Step 1: Select your screencast technology: Information professionals design, create, and post online tutorials/screencasts that explain how to use specific research tools (such as subject-specific databases) or how to do certain tasks (such as finding the full-text of an article from a bibliographic record in a database). For the first part of this assignment, you will have the opportunity to design and create your own brief screencast (less than five- minutes) for your chosen audience using the freely-downloadable Jing ( (Jing works for both Macs and PCs) or a similar product such as Camtasia ( Camtasia has a 30 day free trial that you could use if you don’t want to use Jing. There are also several excellent options that do not require a software download; you might try Screenr (, Screencastle (, Screencast-O-Matic (http://www.screencast-o- If you don’t like any of these options, see for an annotated list of other screencasting tools. If you are using Jing, see for a short screencast about how to create a Jing screencast!

Step 2: Create a practice screencast: In order to be sure that your screencasting software is working properly on your computer, I would like you create a practice screencast a couple weeks before the instructional screencast is due. The purpose of this practice screencast is only to be sure I can hear your voice and see movements on your screen, and to be sure you understand how to share your screencast with me. The content of this screencast does not matter. Thus, show me a couple pictures of your dog and tell me about him or her; show me and tell me about your favorite website; show me how you organize yourelectronicrecipefile;etc.Really,Imeananything! Note:Ifyouwouldliketocombine this practice screencast assignment with your introduction to your classmates and me, you could introduce yourself and post the screencast both in the Canvas dropbox AND in the Introducing Ourselves discussion forum.

This practice screencast does not need to be long; I just need to hear your voice and see something move on your screen, so five or ten seconds is long enough, but of course it can be up to five minutes. Please do not try to use your webcam to film a video; screencasting software is not well suited to capturing many frames per second, and so your file will quickly become unwieldy if you attempt to capture a webcam video. This practice screencast does not need to be polished. Don’t spend time re-recording it because you stumbled over your language or you coughed or your dog barked. I won’t mind!

Step 3: Design your instructional content. Once you have done your practice screencast, you are ready to start thinking about your instructional screencast! Your instructional screencast should be carefully planned and rehearsed, because in a professional situation, this might be the only instruction a user might get about a particular tool. The screencast must be able to stand on its own, since you as the author do not know what else the patron will be reading/viewing/learning, if anything. Because your audience is likely non-librarians, you will not want to use “library language,” or if you do, you should define your terms. If your audience is children, you will want to adjust your tone, your vocabulary, and your content for their level. Similarly, if your audience is graduate students or another advanced audience, you will want to adjust to meet their level. Additionally, you will need to be very selective about what features you want to cover in your screencast, because you want to give your audience members enough information to get started, but not so much that they will be overwhelmed. If your lesson is longer than five minutes, consider making your screencast one of a (fictional) series; you can say something like, “In the last screencast, you learned how to log into the library’s databases. In this screencast we are going to learn how to find articles written by a particular author. In subsequent screencasts, you will learn how to search in other ways.” Obviously, you don’t need to create the whole series! Just create the one part that interests you. Also, you will want to be sure that your content takes advantage of the screencast medium. In other words, be sure you demonstrate something that benefits from your being able to show the steps on your computer screen. Don’t select a topic that you could just as effectively explain with a handout or a static webpage.

Step 4: Record/refine your instructional screencast: Even if you use software that allows for a longer screencast, you should create a screencast that is no more than five minutes. Because your screencast will be less than five minutes, you will have to be disciplined about being focused and efficient in your explanation. It would be a good idea to begin your screencast with a brief overview of what you will be covering in the screencast, with a list of objectives on a slide. Be sure to speak slowly and clearly so that your audience will actually absorb what you are presenting. The free version of Jing does not allow for editing, but it does allow for unlimited recordings, so you will want to practice repeatedly until you believe your screencast is appropriately polished. Jing allows for users to upload their screencasts to a server (for free!), so for this portion of the assignment, you will just be giving me a URL to your screencast at the top of your reflection. See the accompanying screencast-examples.pdf document to view example screencasts; yours should be comparably polished and professionally done.

Step 5: Write your reflection: After finishing your screencast, you will copy and paste your URL at the top of your reflection document. Please note: Do not “bury” the URL under other text, such as “My Screencast” but instead paste the URL itself so that it is visible in your document. The grading features in Canvas do not allow for embedded clickable links within a Word doc, so I have to be able to copy/paste the URL into my own browser, which I cannot do if the URL is hidden behind text. Write a reflection (around 1200-1500 words (longer is fine), double-spaced, standard fonts and margins) reflecting on your process of composing the screencast, explaining your choices of what to include and what to exclude, and reflecting on challenges and opportunities that this medium provides. Please be sure to reflect on your pedagogical and design choices vis-à-vis our course materials about teaching/learning and learning theory. You must include reflections that indicate a thoughtful consideration of our course material to date. Please include at least one citation/reference to an article or book about learning theory or best practices in screencast design (either that we read in class or that you found on your own). You need to explain how you made deliberate instructional/pedagogical choices to reflect your knowledge of how people learn.

  • Note: simply reflecting on your frustrations with the technology or simply explaining your process in your reflection will not be adequate.
  • Note: Please be sure you have included your URL for your screencast in the text of your reflection document.
This project is administered by the South Central Regional Library Council with funding from the Institue for Museum and Library Services.