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Using screencasting in training: What? Why? How?

Recently I’ve watched an interview with a history teacher who was advocating the use of technology for learning. At first it seemed odd as usually those who have a passion for the past also enjoy the more old fashioned methods of doing things. However, when she was asked about the reasons behind this preference, she said that the new generation was one that responded a lot better to image than the written word.

This is true not only of middle school or high school students but also of the numerous Millennials who have been taking the workplace by storm for some time now. Raised on technology, their work and learning preferences are very different from those who came before them and adapting to their ways is the only way to ensure good results and business success.

E-learning has taken over as the main method of knowledge delivery and it works wonderfully; but for those instances where a facilitator is necessary, screencasting is a good way to merge human and digital interaction.

screencasting in training

WHAT is screencasting?

A screencast is a video recording of what’s happening on the trainer’s computer monitor, often with annotations and/or narration. It can be very simple or very elaborate, ranging from a whiteboard presentation to a slideshow to a movie-like video.

The technology used for screencasting may be web-based, software, or a browser add-on, and have some of the following features: a spotlight for the mouse, the trainer’s picture (usually in the right corner), the possibility to edit the video once completed and the ability to upload to YouTube, the Cloud, or another common file sharing location.
Of course, these are just the basics. Like with most technology-based learning tools, the possibilities are practically unlimited and there are a lot of great apps (some even at no cost at all) that one can employ in screencasting.

WHY screencast?

There are a lot of reason for the choice of screencasting as a delivery method. Here are some of the things to be done this way:

  • Record procedures and answer common questions;
  • Give participants audio-visual feedback (the next best thing to a one to one conversation);
  • Record units that can be accessed anytime, anywhere;
  • Make videos that can help managers know what the training sessions covered;
  • Communicate using a media Millennials love – videos;
  • Create a live recording during a group activity or project presentation;
  • Share user-generated content;
  • Take a unique approach to digital storytelling.

HOW to screencast?

As for available apps there are a lot out there. Here’s a small sampler.

  • Explain Everything is a whiteboard app where you can show step-by-step actions, add videos, images, voice-overs, audio files, notes, annotations or whatever else is necessary to clarify the message, and then export as a video or an image. You can use it to design a training unit collaboratively, record user projects, and make presentations. The canvas offer many options, allowing any number of pieces to be included and then zoomed in on to display. Once a project is complete, it can be uploaded as a PDF, an image, or a video to most major digital portfolios.
  • Jing is simple screen sharing without any intricate additions that can complicate the activity. You simply start the program and share whatever you are doing on your screen with viewers. It is intuitive to use, and the completed screencast can be shared via Jing's site (with a link) or saved to a local drive as a .swf file. It is available only as a software download, though TechSmith (the creator) has other options that work nicely on Chromebooks and a browser.
  • Screencast-o-Matic is one of the easiest and most popular screencasting programs out there. Its free version is robust, records up to 15 minutes, offers a highlighted mouse and an inscreen webcam picture. You can record directly from the Screencast-o-matic website, requiring no installation, registration, or download. The paid version is a download that allows longer videos, more options for saving, and the ability to store videos on their server. It is designed for web use, computers, or Chromebooks (if using the free web-based version). Recording can be done directly from the internet or through downloaded software.
  • ShowMe is an interactive whiteboard app that allows drawing, handwriting, text, and voice-over. Users construct a series of linked slides (think slideshow), save them as a video, and then share with others either publicly or privately. Using it will be a lot easier and more intuitive for iPad users as it has been designed for this particular device type.

In the end...

Screencasting is basically the most useful tool to use for digital storytelling. The technology is not entirely new but is developing rapidly and with mobile devices becoming the preferred medium for learning, it is bound to become more widely used. In corporate training.