Following a session I gave on Friday on Using video in language teaching, I had an interesting conversation with some colleagues about screencasting.
As most of you probably know, screencasting (which I insist on writing in one word, despite my spellcheck’s best efforts) consists of recording what is happening on your computer screen into a video document. People will frequently add voice-over or captions to create tutorials and informative videos.
During Friday’s session, I mentioned a couple of screencasting solutions that may be of interest to tutors: Camtasia (Mac/PC, £73 to £220), Blueberry Flashback (PC, £59 to £132) and Quicktime X (Mac, free with OS X 10.7 or greater), although I had to admit not knowing much about other (and cheaper) solutions. So, better late then never, I went out and looked at what’s available.
I found that PC World has a very nice page summarising what’s available. If you’re looking for cheaper solutions than the ones mentioned above, try this page. Some of the software presented even allows to record your screen without software installation (provided you can get the Java applet to work).
I also realised that I had been using yet another screencasting solution myself, but hadn’t thought of including it in my session: Fraps (free to £25). Fraps is mostly popular among PC gamers due to its light CPU footprint and benchmarking ability. But on thinking about it, it is also an affordable, easy-to-use screen capture software package that can very well be used for educational purposes.
So, what would you use screencasting for in education?
I’ve given it a try myself a couple of times, to:
As you can see, I haven’t used screencasting in my language teaching practice yet. If any of you do, I’d be delighted to hear about it – feel free to comment in the box below. Thanks for reading.
I’ve just come back from attending the LLAS’ 8th e-learning symposium at the University of Southampton. I really enjoyed the event: the talks were great, full of ideas and directions to explore (the keynotes in particular), but above all it is really the people who made it worthwhile for me.
When I presented at this event last year, I met a few fellow HE language tutors, a good number of which I got to see again this year: @AngloFLE, @CeciliaGoria, @languageforall, @nkthorne and @Citricky, to name a few. And it was great to see the ever-enthusiastic organisers @AliDickens, @johngcanning, @KBorthwick, @laurencegeorgin, @eri_llas, @37Nasher and the rest of the LLAS team.
The event was also the oportunity to meet face-to-face with a few people whom I’d been following, reading or and interacting with on Twitter. It was really great to meet @WarwickLanguage, @nikpeachey & @mikeneary!
By the end of the second day, I’d spoken to people from dozens of institutions, teaching every language you can think of and sharing an interst for technology-enhanced learning and innovative teaching practices. It really was a breath of fresh air in the middle of a busy academic year!
But the best thing about this event is that I truly began to get a sense of community. This is probably the most important thing I’ll take back with me: the feeling that I’m starting to know a few people around the country, whom I meet online or offline once in a while, and I have an idea of who they are, what they do, and we can count on one another for ideas, support, inspiration and so on. It was great speaking to you all – see you next year!
My next post (or two) will be about the content of the event. Too much to write about in just one post!
For some time now we’ve been using a vocabulary-testing application on some of our French courses. It’s particularly useful for medical French courses, given the amount of terminology there is to memorise. The app we’ve been using isn’t the sexiest, but it does the job at displaying vocab pairs and then test you on them. The main downside has been that it’s a Windows-only app (sorry, “programme”) and a good number of our students now use mobile devices or Macs. Quite a shame, I should think, as learning vocab is perfect for bite-size, on-the-go learning in public transports.
So yesterday I asked around (meaning, I posted a tweet with a question mark in it) if anyone knew something a bit more modern, sexier, and that could run on a phone. Within minutes, the ever-helpful @simonjhowells suggested I had a look at Quizlet. Well, thank you, Simon, I think Quizlet will do the job just right, and here’s why in 5 short points.
… and the new!
- High performance. Quizlet lets you import your own vocab lists and is quite smart about recognising the format. I imported around 800 entries in 37 lists in a couple of hours, with tagging and assigning them to classes. Assign a language to a column and Quizlet will read out the words for you in a variety of languages. It’s generally highly customisable.
- Fun. You can learn and test your vocab in a number of rather fun ways. I found myself practising cardiology vocab playing Space Race!
- Fresh-looking. A nice design can go a long way when you’re looking for motivation to learn about infectious diseases typology.
- Embeddable! I was so excited about this. Students will no longer need to download an .exe file onto their computer to run it. Neither will they need to go and search for the right vocab list on the website: any individual list of exercise can be embedded right there in your VLE.
- Social. Quizlet has everything you would expect from a web 2.0 learning platform. You can invite your friends, compare scores, chat about a task, add to it, and of course you can share your content! There are currently 181 entires under ‘Medical French’. Our entries are available here.
Anyway, I’ll see how my students find it this coming semester. A nice bit of change to look forward to!