I’ve played around recently with screencasting as a way to instruct students in how to use LaTeX, and a couple of calculators; one for uncertainties and one for statistics. As I’ve been googling around to see how people use screencasts in education, I’ve come across some stuff that I think is pretty mind-blowing.
First, there’s the chemistry prof who uses screencasting to present lecture material and go over test answers. It’s a great idea for that kind of “optional” material that not everyone wants to hear. Then there’s a librarian who creates on-the-spot screencasts while answering patrons’ questions. The one time answer saved for posterity!!! Then there’s the English instructor who uses screencasts for “one way” information transmission, so class time can be saved for interaction. All of these have given me a lot of ideas.
I’ve been converting lecture material to use LaTeX Beamer, which produces PowerPoint-like pdf documents. It allows me to animate things like diagrams, by adding information incrementally to simplify complex material. I’d like to try adding audio to some of these to see which students prefer; pdf or screencast. Of course it’s possible some students will like each one, or some students may even like both for different reasons. If so, that makes it easy to have the more search-engine-friendly pdf as well as the human-friendly video. It also allows visually impaired visitors to use the pdf or listen to the video.
I’d love to hear about any other creative ideas. I hope over the next few months I can try some new things myself.