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An experience of using Screencasting to teach software

Author Brid Lane
Abstract Demonstration of procedural skills is needed for students to learn software applications. Screencasts with their emphasis on recording and playback of such procedures on a computer screen are proposed as a useful means of teaching undergraduate students how to use Microsoft Access to create databases. The paper details screencasting with two successive cohorts in a higher education program and reports on how these two diverse groups, with their own specific features and approaches to their learning, reacted differently to the screencasts. For the first cohort a set of relevant screencasts were sourced from and used as a classroom support teaching tool. A post-event focus group with the class revealed that students considered the screencasts useful and helpful, but also that they did not cover all required content features and there were too many different presentation styles across the different screencasts. For the second cohort the researcher rectified the reported problems of the first cohort by creating a set of screencasts addressing all the required content with a consistent voice and presentation style across all screencasts. Disappointingly, learning outcomes (measured via grades) were poorer than for the first cohort, and most students who achieved a passing grade exhibited little more than surface knowledge of the required software procedures. External (non-academic) factors may account for at least some of this poor result. While screencasts appear to be a useful and valuable means for teaching software applications to students, they are not a guarantee of success. Increasing student diversity means more challenging student learning environments and student approaches to learning. It seems that varying formats of learning content is not enough to remove obstacles impeding the learning of all students.
Keywords Screencasts, instructional design, learning outcomes
Published In ICEP Proceedings 2012
Date 2012
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