Using technology in the classroom can sometimes feel overwhelming, but that shouldn't be a reason to neglect using it.
For a long time, I relied on my students to know how to use technology as I was nervous about using it myself.
Some students are clearly gifted when it comes to using new technology in ways that adults sometimes struggle with.
Not all students, though and we can't assume that all kids are "digital natives" who automatically take to and enjoy using tech.
Students much like teachers don't always enjoy things they aren't good at and are fearful about trying things that don't come easily.
This is why one of my goals over the last few years has been to try out new technology that I feel will be beneficial in the classroom and Screencast-O-Matic is one of those tools.
Screencasting is the act of making videos using what's on the screen of your computer and enhancing the visual with a narrative voice.
Many of us and our students are not comfortable being on screen, so why not start teaching them to screencast as a way to create class tutorials or for you, to create class lessons to effectively "flip" your classes?
Screencast-o-Matic is extremely easy to use (even the free version). Simply download the software, open up the screens you want to use in your video and then hit record. (It's the little red dot in the bottom left corner). Once the screen is being recorded, the user can speak about what is on the screen to explain or teach anything.
Below is an example of a screencast I recently created to show how to prepare for student self-assessment conferences:
In this tutorial, I was able to walk the watcher through how I use Google Forms to solicit information from students to prepare for in-class conferences.
Admittedly, the version above is a second draft. I started recording the first one and had to readjust the size of the screen (you're asked to size the window before you start). So there was a learning curve once I realized what it would take to switch between tabs.
Overall, the experience was a good one and I would recommend the service to beginners.
There are some limitations to the free version. A user can only do screencasts of up to 15 minutes (not that your students will create projects longer than this) and you can only do one at a time. However, I didn't find these limitations cumbersome when using the service.
How do you use screencasting in your classes? How can this tool be useful to what you are already doing? Do you have a tool that you like using more? Please share
*This post originally ran on my Education Week Teacher blog in January of 2015. It has been modified.