10 tips for making great screencasts

Learning Technologist Steve Burholt gives us his top 10 tips for making a great screencast.

Benefits of screencasts 

A screencast is a video capture of the computer screen, with audio narration. Teaching staff can use screencasts to give feedback to students, for example about assessment criteria. Screencasts make it easy to point to specific instances of a criterion in the text itself as the presenter can highlight, select text, etc. in real time.

How you can make great screencasts

  1. Chunk it up – organise what you’re going to talk about in clearly defined sections. For example, when giving feedback on a student submission, talk about structure, themes, referencing etc. 
  2. Get the tone right – decide how formal you want the delivery to be. Reading from a script can produce stilted results. 
  3. Signposting – start the screencast with a summary of what you’re going to do. 
  4. Record in a quiet, non-echoey space like a carpeted teaching room. 
  5. Keep it brief – research shows that students prefer short videos, less than six minutes in length. This also helps if they are viewing on a mobile device, and therefore don’t want large files. 
  6. Good audio – research has shown that clear video can be spoilt by crackly or low-quality audio. Try to buy (or borrow) a good quality headset. 
  7. Reduce clutter – when showing the screen, only show students the relevant information. Avoid showing multiple windows open. Magnify the screen if necessary to help get the message across. 
  8. Relax! It does not have to be perfect. Try a few different recordings and chose the best.
  9. Test it - play the screencast to friends, family or preferably students themselves!
  10. Futureproofing – consider whether this screencast could serve several purposes. Could you re-use it next year? Perhaps you could give student feedback using a generic example? 
male teacher talking through some highlighted text in a screencast

One way of using screencasting is to talk students through their essays.

Which tool to use to produce screencasts 

The University has a campus licence for Panopto software, which is fully integrated with WebLearn and Canvas Virtual Learning Environments. 

Alternatives to screencasting

If you don’t need to record the screen as you talk, you could use Canvas’ Speedgrader – this allows teachers to annotate student submissions, and give video and audio feedback separately. Note: Canvas is available to Early Adopters of the Canvas@Oxford project.

Further Information


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