Why make screencasts to deliver learning content?
Providing learning content asynchronously through a screencast provides students with the opportunity to prepare questions and formulate ideas for reflection and discussion, to support their understanding of assessments, live teaching or other learning experiences.
Screencasts are an asynchronous resource that offer:
- a variety of approaches to presenting information, for example step-by-step instruction, demonstrations ‘in the field’, presenting with slides and visuals, ‘talking heads’ (presenting with camera feed switched on) or multiple camera inputs
- flexibility in the way students can consume content, for example, the ability to pause, review, adjust volume and organise playlists
- captioning, which helps a range of learners access and better understand spoken content
- enhanced lecturer presence in the Blackboard course and familiarity when students can see and hear their lecturers in recordings
Screencasts need to be carefully planned as recording them is different to making a recording of a live session. The following advice will support you to create engaging screencasts that are effective for delivering learning content.
1. Getting started: what do I need to know before planning a screencast?
- Learning resources should be provided via a mix of formats, such as reading and learning activities, not just screencasts. There may be existing video content or reading you can direct students towards and plan activities around, rather than planning a new recording (for example, BoB, Linkedin Learning and Talis Reading List).
- To get started, aim to break down content into individual headings or topics, then create short videos that focus on these topics, with activities that ask students to reflect and unpack the content via questions and tasks. Refer to these as ‘activities’ within the recordings, for maximum flexibility (you might find it easier/quicker to design activities after recording screencasts, but some prefer to use activity planning to inform the recording content/structure).
- You could use natural breaks in the topic or key headings to plan short video segments (15 minutes is considered long). Shorter videos help students to engage and give greater flexibility to manage viewing. You should not be looking to convert a 2 hour lecture into 2 hours’ worth of screencasts!
- Prepare for an ‘informal’, natural presentation style, as if you were speaking in a lecture – instead of writing a script, your screencast may ‘flow’ naturally if you simply regroup existing presentation slides and write a list / flowchart to keep on track when speaking.
2. Preparing the presentation slides
Presentation slides checklist:
- Use the University accessible slide templates.
- Model good academic practice by citing sources and copyright info as required by third party content (use a summary slide and references on individual slides). Useful image sources are the University image bank, unDraw, pixabay and Unsplash.
- If you normally would wear an LGBT+ lanyard, consider adding the “proud to be an ally” logo to your title slide.
- If using an existing lecture presentation, divide this into segments and save each as a new ppt (consider all the usual stuff about setting out learning objectives, include self-study instructions and summary).
- Consider how you are going to start and end each segment. Make sure each segment has a clear starting slide. At the end of each segment, you could copy the 1st slide of the next segment to the end of the previous, and add a “Coming up next…” caption.
- At the end of each segment you’ll want to encourage students to complete the ‘learning activity’ before moving onto the next recording. Keep this loose term to give yourself flexibility in activities you design.
- If planning to use the inbuilt PowerPoint recorder, note the ‘talking head’ camera feed always displays bottom right, so check that area on each slide does not contain key information (you could paste a box the same size as the talking head into the bottom right of each slide as a reminder). A talking head can make the experience more personable and better engage students (particularly where they are remote learners and would otherwise not ‘see’ their lecturer).
- Familiarise yourself with screencast accessibility advice so you are able to employ the guidance when preparing your resource.
3. Choosing your recording software
Option 1: PowerPoint recorder
Most colleagues use the inbuilt recorder in PowerPoint to record their screencasts. This is a free, simple and flexible recording option (ensure you have latest version, email DTS if you are unsure). We recommend upgrading to Office 365 to make the most of PowerPoint's tools and our guidance.
You can re-record over individual slides, pause, toggle a camera feed on/off and there are a variety of pointers / annotation tools available.
- How to record with PowerPoint
Option 2: Record using YuJa
In most cases, we recommend recording in PowerPoint rather than in YuJa. However there are two ways you can record videos in YuJa:
- Directly in your browser, using the Browser Capture Studio - this could be a good option for quick, simple videos.
- Using the desktop application - this offers greater functionality.
When you have finished, the video will be saved automatically in your YuJa Media Library. You can then make simple edits to the video.
Option 3: Record using Teams (not recommended)
It is not recommended to record a screencast using a Teams meeting recordings. There are several limitations when using this method, for example, there's no capability to 'pause' whilst recording and if you experience poor internet connectivity during the recording this will affect audio quality. If you need to record your screen then it is advisable to do so using the YuJa recorder (PowerPoint recorder will only pick up slide presentation and your webcam feed).
Option 4: Other recording software
For more recording software options and advice; see Which software is best for: Talking Head, Narrated slides, Narrated screen recording?
4. Equipment and set up considerations
You can create a quality screencast at home or at your workstation with just a webcam and headset. Ensure you position yourself close enough to the camera so your head and shoulders are clearly in the frame, check your background for personal data and position your mic so it does not hit your mouth when you speak. Put a sign on the door to avoid interruptions and mute your devices.
· Checklist (presenting and setting up the recording)
5. Editing recordings
Considering editing your screencast? Editing can be a time-consuming activity with little impact on student learning. Students appreciate an informal, conversational style and don’t mind rephrasing or pausing as you would when speaking in a lecture. Before committing to editing your recordings, see Should I edit my screencast?
Video editing options available to all staff:
- All teaching and learning recordings must be uploaded to the University's learning capture platform, YuJa. Once uploaded you have the option to edit your recording in YuJa if necessary.
- PowerPoint allows basic editing, for example, you can re-record audio over individual slides, or adjust slide design/text without interfering with the existing slide audio.
- If you do not have the original recording file, for example, the recording only exists in Stream because it was made via a Teams meeting recording, then you will need to download the recording from Stream and upload to an editing software, such as the YuJa YuJa editor. (nb. most devices have inbuilt ‘basic’ editing software; Windows (Photos) and mac (iMovie)).
- For more details and options, see: How do I edit my screencast?
6. Uploading a screencast to YuJa and sharing
YuJa is the University video hosting platform for sharing T&L recordings to Blackboard modules 2022/23 onwards. All recordings must be uploaded to YuJa before sharing with students.
Once a screencast is uploaded to YuJa, it is important to:
- title the recording with a recommended University naming convention
- make the recording available to others using YuJa
7. Checking captions and dealing with alternative formats
It is strongly recommended that you check the accessibility options within YuJa, such as caption editing where necessary, to improve accuracy of the screencasts you create.
For detailed advice about accessibility and effective captioning, see Captioning Screencasts
If your recording exists in Stream and you have already edited captions, you can extract Stream auto-captions to create an alternative format or upload these to YuJa alongside your video.