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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Upper School Launch Grant: Experimenting with Instructional Mathematics Videos


Video, as an instructional tool, is on the rise in recent years.   I used my launch grant to learn methods of making instructional videos for the mathematics classes that I teach and how to organize those resources.  In this blog, I will describe three different types of screencasting software and how I created my Google site.

So, which screencasting software is best?  It depends on your comfort level with video-editing software, and how much time you want to spend making your screencasts look professional.  Here’s my opinion of three particular types:

1.  Explain Everything

Explain Everything in an inexpensive app (currently $2.99) only available on an iPad or iPhone.  I never experimented with this software on an iPhone, because I don’t think that the screen is large enough.  In fact, I don’t actually find the screen big enough on an iPad for most of the educational videos that I wish to record.  But if the videos that you want to make don’t need a large screen and if you are comfortable on an iPad, Explain Everything is a very easy piece of software to use.  It records on-screen drawing, annotation, and audio through the iPad microphone.  Exporting your videos is simple.  For a teacher that is an iPad user and wants to begin making videos, I would highly recommend Explain Everything.

2.  Camtasia

Camtasia is available on either a Mac or a PC, but for a cost.  It is a very powerful software product though, and will allow you to do almost everything you would want to do in an educational screencast.  You can record through the webcam or the screen, add clickable links throughout the video, and easily share videos on YouTube.  The possibilities are actually a little overwhelming for the novice videographer.  I would recommend Camtasia only for teachers with some screencasting experience and demanding of a professional result.

My Camtasia Example Video

3.  Screencast-O-Matic

It’s free!  I think it also looks professional.  Both Mac and Windows users can run this software on their computer.  You can have it record your webcam or your screen.  I found it to be rather easy to use and make small edits.  It’s simple to upload videos directly to YouTube or save videos to your computer as an mp4 file.  I think that Screencast-O-Matic offers the optimum combination in terms of features, ease of use, and price.   I highly recommend this software to any teacher who is starting out in screencasting and wants more screen space or edibility than an iPad offers.

My Screencast-O-Matic Example Video

My Google Site

This past year I found that I needed to organize all my online resources in one central location.  My created Google site contains websites that I found to be valuable, instructional videos for different topics, and mathematics software programs, such as graphing calculators.  It also includes suggested follow-up questions to ask students once they have completed watching certain educational videos.  When I have experimented with the flipped classroom approach to teaching, I found it critical to ask my students follow-up questions to videos watched for homework so that I could be sure that they actually watched it and learned something.

My examples of videos with follow up questions

I have learned so much through this launch grant and had fun playing with new technology.  If anyone has questions about making or implementing instructional videos, I would be happy to help!

-Mariah Napeñas

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