Save Instructional Time with Screencasts

Here’s a “case study” in lesson design that demonstrates the efficiencies of offloading information transfer via screencasts.

Setting: I’m currently teaching Alaskan Studies at University of Alaska Southeast’s MAT program. My course is teamed with a Multicultural Ed class. We have a cohort of 37 students in the first three weeks of their on-campus summer session. Our face to face class time is critical and we want the students to get to know each other before being sent out across Alaska on their student teaching placements.

Goal: I wanted to open the course with a place-based activity that gave the students a creative way to share something about themselves. I decided to give them two PBL design options – creating a poetry-inspired Haiku Deck [ Lesson ] or a developing a geo tagged tour using Google MyMaps [ Lesson ]. During the same class, I wanted to get them introduced to WordPress and our course blog where they would be regularly posting.

All this was accomplished in a 3-hour class through use of short screencasts that explained each aspect of Haiku Deck, MyMaps and WordPress. Screencasts were made using Apple Quicktime Player and uploaded to a playlist on YouTube.

Bottom line: By investing about 45 mins to make screencasts (in advance), I freed up three hours of class time for student interaction and production.

You can view student products: Haiku Deck here and MyMaps here 

Here’s some student reactions to the workflow:

The “flipped” structure of this assignment was new to me, but eye-opening. Using YouTube and a course website to provide instruction without eating too much class time opens a number of possibilities for a teacher. Having that time instead for working on an assignment seems helpful for students, and it would free the teacher up to walk the room and help them individually with any problems they might be having. ~ Tim

This activity gave me a sense of fulfillment because I got to go at my own pace and actively create a project within a clear and manageable timeframe….The quick cadence of this activity was driven by Peter’s use of Youtube tutorials to deliver instructions and information about the project. This element all but cut out lecture time along with the inevitable (inferably painstaking) process of verbally answering repeated questions from students. In my experience as a student, verbal lectures and directions often cause me to get bored and then shut down, or to get lost and then shut down. The video clips smoothed over this issue and I anticipate utilizing this method in my future classroom. ~ Devin

It was fun, it has kept the entire class occupied for over two hours and I can see how this is an amazing learning opportunity and activity for the classroom. Allowing students a few different options to choose a way to creatively address a subject, giving them a set amount of time to accomplish the task and then providing a space to view their peers work in order to get ideas for the next activity. Brilliant. ~ Erin

Image credit: Flickr / eGuidry

My TypePad to WordPress Conversion

typepad wordpress conversion

If you’re a follower of my blog you’ll notice its new look. Copy / Paste has moved to WordPress.

When I first started blogging back in ’05 I was a bit confused by WordPress, so I opted for TypePad. TypePad has been easy to use, but I’ve enviously watched WordPress evolve into a far superior platform. And I’ve always been a bit nervous wondering what might happen to my blog if TypePad – a paid blogging host – decided to pack up shop. Earlier this year, its parent company, Six Apart, was sold to a new owner. My anxiety level increased. The thought that some new owner of TypePad might one day shut it down was frightening. But so was the idea that in moving to WordPress, I might jeopardize my content and traffic.

Fortunately I found Foliovision – and here’s three reasons why I can highly recommend their work:

My web design skills peaked with FrontPage ’98.

1. I don’t think in html, yet manage to do lots of interesting things with technology with only a veneer of understanding of what’s going on under the hood. Foliovision spent a great deal of time explaining the conversion process before I signed on. (How many times did I make them absolutely promise that a conversion wouldn’t kill off all my links?) Since we started working on the project, they have patiently answered questions that a serious techie must find rather naive. Bottom line – while they wrote the book on TypePad to WordPress conversions – they can discuss it in layman’s terms.

2. They manage project workflow with style and efficiency. Through the conversion process I worked with four specialist via their Foliovision’s Basecamp collaboration tool. Replies were timely and each person seemed well aware of what the rest of the team was doing. Alec, Foliovision’s creative director, would periodically pop into the conversation with a great idea, like merging one of my other domains into my new blog. You never would have guessed I was working with a team based in Bratislava, Slovakia – half a world away from Portland, Ore.

3. It turned out to be an engaging collaborative effort. OK – so I didn’t have much to suggest to Martin about programming or Marieta about CSS. But I did have a bit of synergy with Michala, the lead designer and project manager. We shared loads of design ideas and exchanged screen shots as the look and function of the new blog took shape. We even found out we both admire the work of Barbara Kruger – you’ll recognize her influence in my blog.

So this is my first blog post on my new site. I’m eager to learn more about using WordPress and leveraging the custom Foliovision plugins. And, of course, I checked all my content, links, and data  - they made it over successfully. 

For more on Foliovision’s conversion click here.  BTW, I chose the Gold Service Option.