Screencasts are a cornerstone of many blended learning and flipped classroom strategies. Many academics are put off because traditionally creating a screencast requires them to learn complex new software such as Camtasia or Captivate, once they have persuaded a budget holder to find around £100 to buy them a license for the software.
However for simple slide based screencasts (as distinct from those which use a screen recording to demonstrate software techniques) there is a solution which has fewer barriers for staff. PowerPoint 2010 quietly introduced a feature which allows your slideshow to be saved as a video file. Combine that with the narration feature which has been part of PowerPoint for many years, and you can build a screencast very easily using tools which are familiar.
The basic workflow:
- Create your slides, using the animation tools to create any callouts
- Use the Narration feature to add your voice, as if you were giving the presentation to a live audience
- Save the presentation as a video
- Upload the video to your institutional video repository and link to it from the VLE
This method is more forgiving than a true screen recording, because you can edit the text and graphics on a slide after adding the voiceover. You can also go back and re-do the voiceover for a particular slide if necessary without needing to get bogged down in video editor like tools.
Accessibility may be a concern when using video files for screencasts. A possible solution is to make use of the Presenter Notes field in PowerPoint to add the extra detail that the voiceover provides (perhaps in bullet point or note form rather than a verbatim transcript) and upload the original, non-narrated PowerPoint file separately. (The PowerPoint file with narrations is usually quite a large file that would not be appropriate to place on a VLE).
This method of screencasting won’t be for everbody – those who have mastered Camtasia or Captivate will probably want to stick with those solutions. But for people who are yet to dip their toes into the water of screencasting, this method only requires them to learn two additional (and fairly intuitive) features of PowerPoint 2010.