One of my most used and valued technologies in practice is screencast. For anyone unfamiliar, screencast allows you to create a video of your screen while also providing an audio narrative. The combined video and audio gets uploaded to the web and a link is generated to share with others. The benefits of screencast are well-documented. They include allowing recipients of a screencast video to be able to see and hear points under consideration, enabling tone or intention to be signalled, and in some circumstances, screencast can be an efficient tool for feedback. Here I want to share a few ways in which screencast is useful, particularly as I will soon be asking my own PgC students to consider the technologies that they value most.
Screencast is incredibly valuable for delivering detailed, high volume and potentially hard to receive feedback. By example, recently I was reviewing a Fellowship application that needed considerable reworking. Screencast allowed me to show what the difficulties were with the application; it enabled me to make suggestions as to what changes may be needed; and to provide guidance against the criteria. I was able to emphasise to the individual concerned that I believed the issues were presentational, and that the amount of reworking required did not reflect an inability to meet the criteria based on their experience. It enabled me to be motivational and encouraging through feedback. With written feedback, this belief in the individual is hard to convey. The complexity of this particular feedback also meant that I didn’t need to spend more time trying to select each word to avoid misunderstanding or offence, I could simply talk honestly, but with care and support. Feedback from the recipient showed me that the individual concerned fully understood messages being conveyed, and appreciated the supportive intention.
Here are some other ways that I have used screencast, all are replicable:
Giving one-to-one feedback to research students on draft work or proposals; screencast’s audio narrative allows the reviewer or tutor to share their internal deliberations and in so doing accentuate the requirement for students to apply their judgement to tutor comments. It can help to show that the tutor does not always provide a single and true source of authority. In turn helps the student to remain in control of their research. This approach enhances a facilitation pedagogy which is often appropriate for supporting research students.
Corrective and advisory feedback on writing, structure and presentation; using screencast for one-to-one feedback of this type can be efficient. Screencast allows empathy when highlighting areas within an assessment that should be changed, and it is easy to further explain why changes are necessary. This detail may be difficult to achieve in written feedback. By example, saying ‘you should be more critical here’ can be expanded to say in context what this really means. Saying ‘you should use a more consistent layout’ can be supported by actually showing how to action some of the changes needed (do students for example know about the style controls in Word?).
Creating assessment ‘walk-throughs’ to provide further detailed guidance on task requirements; this simply involves going through the detail of an assignment task on screen, with emphasis on key features. This can be reassuring and informative for students and can deal with misconceptions early on in the assessment cycle.
Creating one-to-many feedback on key issues in assessment work; this involves copy and pasting examples of specific difficulties that are recurring (though to avoid any sense of embarrassment it may be wise to just tweet the text to allow full anonymity) and creating a quick ‘things to avoid’ video to prevent students making easily avoidable errors. The focus of this feedback should be difficulties observed in formative activities.
Creating digital exemplars to offer feedback on past work can assist current students in the development of their own assessment and wider scholarship. By placing a piece of past student work on screen, a screen-cast Narrative can be created to show the strengths and challenges of the work. One of my students described how this provides an insight in to the mind of a marker to make the assessment process more transparent. I have preciously documented, in detail, how digital exemplars can be created (see here).