Feedback is any teacher’s essential tool. The challenge for any teacher, is to question how much do our students retain from our verbal (and as PE teachers, our physical efforts)? Does our feedback improve student performance? Does our feedback aid the understanding of a task? Do we offer feedback to all learning styles? How could we solicit more discussion about our feedback within our class? Recently a lot of research has been conducted on the the optimal ways to give feedback and the importance of this on student learning. John Hattie (Mayer et al 2011) is a leading voice in this field, he draws powerful conclusions from large bodies of research to show that formative feedback is one of the most important factors in terms of raising student achievement. I believe that we as PE teachers offer feedback in conditions that aren’t always optimal. Feedback is offered in the noisy environment of our school gymnasium, the pool deck or out on the field. In search of a better way to deliver more focused feedback I would like to invite you to start your screencast journey!
If you aren’t familiar with screencasting, it is, as the name suggests, a recording of your computer screen whilst in operation that can then be re-shown or ‘cast’ to a new audience. It can contain an audio voice over or narration of a video recording. It is a movie of your computer screen that you make to explain or share something with someone else. Screencasting is not difficult to master, there are a variety of screencasting web applications that work on a whole variety of IT platforms and that can be shared either online or can be downloaded quickly to your computer.
I would like to share one web-app and one iDevice app with you that I have found to be excellent for screencasting. There are many others out there, but to get started you don’t need to be an expert in all of them!
Screenr – is a web-app that can be easily used on any tablet or computer. It requires no downloading or installation, but does require you to run Java, I have had an issue with this on my Mac’s but not PC’s. Just set up an account and go for it! You will need to have internet access to make this work and a microphone that works to record your voice. When you complete your screencast, screenr will publish it to your account and then you can share it with the World or you can download your screencast to share as a file. Note that the free version of screenr has a 5 min screencast limit, my experience has been that usually this is ample time, any more than this tends to be too long for students anyway, but I have split a Dance routine into two parts to work around this.
Watch this screenr video on how it works and two examples of how you can use it in your PE class.
Coach’s Eye – is an iDevice app that you can buy on iTunes. There are other apps that are cheaper/free but this particular one is very easy to use and as I downloaded and started using it, I have not really used anything else. The app allows you to take a video of your students performance and then you can use the app to make a screencast which you can then save (Dropbox, Evernote, Google Drive etc) and share with your students. This app allows you to do some neat features such as slow down the video; draw on the screen; have side-by-side screens to see progress or to compare to a preferred skill model; speed up or zoom through the film. You can also save the original video or you can make a screencast and save both. It is important to say that if your iDevice has a limited memory, you may find one 4 minute screencast will be enough to fill the memory, so you need to create/delete as you go along to save memory.
A screencast on how to get started with Coach’s Eye.
A few things to note about using screencasting:
- Be prepared – it is important to prepare your resources and to know what you want to share. It is worth doing a little practice before you record to make sure you are happy with your screencast and that you fit into any time limit. Watch your video or record soon after the event to remember what you want to say and save time!
- Find a nice quiet place away from interruption and distraction, everyone can hear your environment so the interruptions, phone calls will all be recorded, a waste to have to do your screencast again.
- Screenr has the ability to pause your screencast to stop and change screens, other apps don’t so check what tools you are working with as you go along.
- Screencasts take time to save. Screenr takes about the same time to save as it does to record. A 4 minute screencasts takes about 4 minutes to save. A 4 minute Coach’s eye screencast can take longer.
- Who is watching? Check your school’s media agreement with students as screenr publishes online and Coach’s Eye saved to Dropbox can also have public access.
- Things get quicker – as with anything you do, screencasting will get easier the more that you do it. The first few can be too long, or too short or you may miss important points, but don’t worry about it! Practice and get better and you will see it is worth the time you have invested.
- There are a number of apps and web-apps that do great screencasting for teachers. Check with your school IT department for their suggestions too.
Screencasting offers a unique opportunity for your students to get very important formative feedback from you in a video setting. Try out screenr or Coach’s Eye and see how this enhances your learning opportunities for your students.
Please let me know what you think and where you could benefit from further sharing.
Mayer, Richard E., and Patricia A. Alexander. Handbook of Research on Learning and Instruction. New York: Routledge, 2011. Print.
Reflector app – I used Reflector to produce the screencast on Coach’s eye. This web app is one of my must-haves for creating screencasts on how to use apps and iDevices.