Three Reasons Screencasting is a Win-Win-Win
Students show their thinking
Students practice their thinking
Students engage in their own learning
Students show their thinking. Instead of just writing in their answer, screencasting allows and even insists that students show the evaluation, inference skills, and critical thinking skills that went into problem solving. Screencasting takes advantage of the introspective reflection, and, when incorporated into a lesson as a formative or summative assessment, screencasting allows students to verbalize and visualize their thought process. Why is this a benefit? Maybe I guessed at an answer, or I know the answer but can't evaluate it. Maybe I just copied the answer from a friend. Screencasting helps to ensure that the critical thinking process is verbalized and explained.
One use of screencasting I've used in class was for students to explain the influence of different persuasive techniques in their own persuasive writing. They wrote a persuasive piece and screencasted how they hoped the audience would be impacted by their use of rhetoric. This extra step extended their thinking and demanded self-evaluation and analysis. Win.
Students practice their thinking. When I have students deliver speeches using a slide presentation, I send them home with a slip that a parent signs stating that they have practiced their speech three times, and this practice is only mildly successful. When I had my students screencast and watch their own screencasts as a form of practice, they practiced many, many, many times without complaining, without prompting, and without hesitation. The first student asked, "Can I redo my screencast?" and all of the others followed suit. This intentional, focused practice and self-evaluation was not required or prompted by me; it was an organic extension of self-evaluation. Students watched themselves on screen and wanted it to be just right, so they practiced and re-recorded numerous times. Win. Win.
Students engage in their own learning. Despite some students saying that they preferred to speak in front of a live audience instead of screencast (we mix it up), most of my students were more engaged in their own learning and reflection when I asked that they screencast their thinking. No one wants to look foolish on camera (well, almost no one...), and most teens are so aware of peer reactions that they are much more invested in a recorded representation of their learning they are in a simple discussion or speech. Win. Win. Win.
Tools I've found successful for screencasting with students include Screencastify, Screencastomatic, and Movenote. I love using screencasting for tutorials or directions, and find it's even better when students direct the learning by creating their own tutorials.
How have you used screencasting in the classroom and what are the benefits and drawbacks you have found?