The Pedagogy of Screening

My students in EDU6323 had a blast last week.  The focus was on screencasting, and for many, it was the first time they had created and shared a screencast.  Based on comments, I suspect it now will not be the last time.  Several have already begun incorporating short screencasts into their classrooms or work settings.

To set the stage for this week, I shared Kevin Kelly‘s 2011 talk at NExTWORK:

Kelly, senior editor at Wired magazine, noted that the web has evolved in unexpected ways…and one of them is “screening.”  Kelly added five other verbs to demonstrate how the web is evolving:

  • Screening
  • Interacting
  • Sharing
  • Flowing (Streaming)
  • Accessing (as opposed to Owning)
  • Generating

In the five years since Kelly prognosticated the future of the web, much of his insight has proven true.  Screencasts fits several of these trends.  Screen recording software started being used as early as the mid 1990’s, but the term screencasting was popularized around the same time as podcasting and became a common term for the production of digital recordings of computer screen output accompanied by audio narration. John Udell is largely credited with the development of the screencast as a medium for instruction. His “Heavy metal Umlaut” screencast demonstrating how Wikipedia articles evolve has become a cult classic among screencasters.

This concept of screening is illustrated in Corning’s look to the future in Day Made of Glass Part 1 and Part 2.  Kecie added to this with this tweet:

By the way, I refound this tweet by using twXplorer from Knight Lab.  Searching for “edu6323”, it collated all the links shared this past week by my class in one place.  Nice!

Some of the richest discussions concerned the pedagogy behind screencasts.  Students shared a video by Salman Khan discussing how screencasts can be an effective way to share ideas, deliver content, and obtain student feedback.  Another noted:

“…For more than a century people have been taking pictures, making movies, and distributing their creative efforts to viewers. Today’s camera technology enables students to do the same in the classroom, and in so doing, learn not only academic subject matter but also digital camera technology, which is educationally valuable. Here is a great article about Film can have a leading role in education.”

There was some excellent transfer from Laurie Poklop’s course on How People Learn.  Mayer’s Multimedia Principles came up from more than one student.

“…I think you are absolutely on to something by connecting the principles of embodiment and personalization in educational multimedia espoused by Mayer (2014) to the value of human connection in the learning process. While the use of a conversational tone may simply reduce extraneous cognitive load that may occur from attempting to “decode” academic language, I also think that we are hard-wired to respond to human faces and voices, helping us focus our attention in such situations, as our brains are apt to see patterns in terms of human faces in otherwise random patterns (Svoboda, 2007). Additionally, Mayer (2014) interestingly points out that having a static image of a speaker during a multimedia presentation actually does not help learning (p. 9). It is necessary to not only be aware of a human origin for narration, but also it is important to be able to see them behaving in a familiar, naturalistic manner…”

The self-pacing and control aspect of screencasts came up repeatedly.  One noted: “…I actually stumbled upon a cool study here when looking for a site to share on Diigo that talks about the pros and cons of screencasting as a self-pacing tool…”

Another conversation revolved around the best length for a screencast.  One student shared an article that suggested a two-minute video with one concept is better than a four minute video with two concepts.  Others suggested around 6 minutes.  TechSmith, maker of SnagIt and Camtasia, asked on Twitter and got a range of responses.  Interestingly, the student created screencasts went from under 2 minutes to nearly 20, on the subject of “Favorite Vacation Spot.”

So a good exploration of screencasting.  Next week, EDU6323 explores the curation of media, using a variety of tools.


It Is the Journey, Not the Destination … Nor the Goat

Over the last four weeks, Jon Becker and I have facilitated a journey for our online students into the heretofore unknown world (for them) of Web 2.0.  Our students are all K-12 teachers from three different states in our Education Technology and School Leadership course.  After two weeks of typical “schoolroom” topical exploration and discussion, we gave them their first project:

Research one of the Top 100 Tools from Jane Hart‘s list and present your findings in a short multimedia tutorial presentation to the rest of your classmates.

26 students – 26 tools

In two weeks.

With no further guidance.

Two weeks ago, you might as well said:  Take this goat and cross this rickety bridge.  (Love this image!)

As one might imagine, during the past two weeks, these students stressed out over just how to do their projects.  One noted that she was ready to toss her computer through her window!  I suspect that several of them would have preferred carrying a goat over doing a web presentation!  At the start of the journey, very few of these students had any experience in web applications.

This weekend, 26 presentations had been uploaded into our class wiki.

Our students reviewed each others presentations and commented in our class discussion forums about what they learned themselves and what they learned from each other.  Many of the comments discussed their stresses in trying to figure out how to present online and how amazed they were that they overcame them and completed their projects on time.

My team mate Jeff Nugent passed me a relevant article this past weekend from Barbara McCombs and Donna Vakili, entitled “A Learning-Centered Framework for E-Learning.”  It noted that content has become so abundant as to make it a poor foundation on which to base an education system.  Rather, context and meaning are the important commodities today.  My students may have started their journey assuming that the tool they were studying was the critical element, but they ended realizing that it was the journey that was important.  One student noted:

“After reading these posts, it seems that we all agreed that using our tool was not the hard part of this assignment.  Perhaps Britt and John knew that when making this assignment…”

I collected their reflections and dumped them into Wordle to see what emerged:

A few things jumped out at me.

USE – Most felt that they would use these tools (and several presented by their classmates) in their teaching.

JING – Jing became the default method for presenting their respective tools to each other.  It was not the only method, however.  We also had some Camtasia screencasts, some YouTube videos, an iMovie clip, and one engaging seaturtle with Blabberize.

STUDENTS and LEARNING – while each of these graduate students approached their specific tool in unique ways, they all focused in on the educational implications of web applications.  Many stated this was eye-opening for them.

And finally, TIME – they recognized the time investments one must make to gain proficiency with these tools.

I found one student’s comment particularly revealing:

“I had been dreading the actual tutorial because the technology scared me to death!  Once I played around with Jing, and saw how easy it was, it wasn’t so bad after all.  I learned that I definitely have some fears when it comes to technology!  It made me wonder why I have them.  My students definitely don’t.  My 11 year old doesn’t.  They just dive in and play with it until they know it.  I wondered when I lost that in myself…”

Another lesson that several reflected on was how this project reflected the social nature of web learning. In keeping with the theme from this year’s EduCon, Jon and I had reinforced  the notion that all learning can and should be networked learning, and that they should therefore support one another as they developed their presentations.  They found this support one of the most valuable aspects of the project.

The McCombs/Vakili article noted that research “underlying the learner-centered principles confirms that learning is nonlinear, recursive, continuous, complex, relational, and natural in humans” (p. 1586).  The lessons learned by these students backs this up – messy at the time but rewarding when accomplished.

Four weeks ago, I told these students that they would freak out doing their projects, but that they would persevere and all complete their projects…and be amazed and proud of themselves.  This weekend, they saw that I was right.

26 different destinations, but one journey – and it was fun to go along for the ride!

{Photo Credit: Jungle Boy}

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