Camtasia

Camtasia-Screenshot1

Camtasia is a video editing tool that allows users to create videos. Users can either use the screen capture tool or import video, photos and music to create a video. This blog will focus on the potential uses of creating a video using its screen capture feature. Screen capture is a tool that allows you to video record your computer screen. If you are interested in creating a video by importing video, photos and music, please refer to my previous blog, Videolicious.

Using Camtasia’s screen capture tool offers many potential teaching and learning opportunities in the ESL classroom. I would like to mention that while numerous tools are available with similar features (i.e. Jing, Screen-cast-o-matic, screenr, etc.), I will focus on Camtasia because it is the first time I have heard of and used it. Camtasia can be used to visually demonstrate or explain pretty much anything like a specific website or software (i.e. features of SmartBoard software). It can also be used to explain the steps to solve a problem (i.e. in Math or Caluclus), explain a photo, or even to give correction or feedback. Further, it can be used to create video lessons that may be a part of a flipped classroom lesson.

Taking all of these mentioned possibilities into consideration, I thought of my future ESL classroom and how students would benefit using Camtasia. One possibility, asking students to create their own screencast videos. For example, getting students to investigate and explain useful websites for learning English or to explain something using screen capture. Lorna Costantini brings forward some thoughtful implications of using screencasts in the classroom for teachers, students and parents. In her screencast on YouTube, What is a Screencast and Why Would I Use One?, Lorna mentions that there are several educational benefits for students who make their own screencasts:

(1) it reinforces their learning by reviewing and explaining concepts; and

(2) it develops skills of students like collaboration, presentation and technological skills.

She also points out two aspects related specifically to learning language:

“first, screencasts serve as an excellent tool for developing and practicing language skills because of repeat conversation; and second, when teachers use screencasts as a means to give feedback, it can help language learners for correct pronunciation and usage.”

One other positive benefit concerns parents; they can follow along the student’s progress. This is something that would not be possible in a traditional classroom setting without the use of web-based tools like Camtasia. Parents can even use the feature, voicethread, to make comments on their children’s work.

There are also some downsides of screencasting that should be mentioned. As identified by EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative’s (ELI) article, 7 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT SCREENCASTING, one of the most highlighted downsides of screencasts is they are not interactive. The type of information being demonstrated must be carefully considered before choosing screencasting as the means to disseminate that information. Considering all points, I agree that a teacher-made screencast for students to view is not interactive. However, in a task where students are asked to make a screencast, I can see many valuable learning aspects for students. If students had to make a screencast in pairs or groups, this would change the whole dimension of interactivity. The final product may not be interactive as such but the project process in creating it, would be. Further, if students were encouraged to provide feedback using voicethreads, it could greatly increase the interactivity. Also, in order to make a screencast, students would be carrying out the same process that a teacher-made screencast would involve. It would be vital that students follow this process as outlined in Kathy Schrock’s blog on Screencasting for educators :

  • Identify prior knowledge and learning goals
  • Decide how to chunk the information and introduce small bits at a time
  • Develop a sketched storyboard of your ideas
  • Write the script out, with your notes to yourself included
  • Gather all the URLs and images collected before you begin
  • Practice to get the timing and voice right
  • Determine how to host and distribute the completed project

In this respect, students would be completing a task similar to that of the writing process but for this type of project, they would have to plan and organize the technological aspect as well. This type of activity would be best served by completing these steps before carrying out the actual production of the video in a way that the students would be leading the activity and it would not become a technology-led task. This is always a vital consideration when integrating the use of technology into a task or project.

Everything considered about Camtasia (as a screencasting tool), I see a multitude of potential benefits if it is used by students to produce a product rather than a teacher-produced video for students to watch. Another point to mention, is due to its classification as a Redefinition activity in regards to Ruben R. Puentedura’s SMAR Classification, it has even more impact in the classroom because it allows for creation of a new task, previously inconceivable.

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