This is an update about my use of screencasting in Modern Physics.
The class has now started and things are going well so far. I’m using Jing exclusively for the screencasts but instead of hosting them on screencast.com I’m just posting them to BlackBoard. So far Blackboard isn’t complaining about the files sizes (between 0.5 and 5 MB) and hopefully it won’t complain about the cumulative total (about 15 MB so far). I like using Bb for several reasons. First I’m worried about running out of room on screencast.com (2GB total) but also because I think I’ll reserve that space for screencasts for a more general audience (like my screencast that show how to use my grade page or my summary page that all students use). Second I like how you can control when students have access to the screencasts. Of course I could host the screencasts on a Hamline server and just put in an external link in Bb (that I could control access to) but the students might get lucky and guess the url of other screencasts that I’m trying to control. Third I really like how you can track the viewing by student to know if they’re actually making use of the screencasts.
Here’s what I’m doing for a given class period. I type up a general outline of the material, careful to skip any details that warrant a separate screencast. I then make any additional screencasts for any details I feel might be confusing from the book. Finally I make a screencast for every homework problem (and make sure they don’t have access until after the quiz on the homework given in class).
In class we do a quiz on a randomly selected homework problem (using a four-sided die so that students don’t waste time trying to guess which problem I’m going to pick) and then I answer any questions they have about the reading that they’ve posted on my summaries page (link above). If there’s time I answer any further questions and give them hints on how to do the homework problems.
The response from the students so far has been cautious optimism. On the first day when I introduced the basic concept one student said that it seemed like I was putting the responsibility on them to learn. I took that as a positive comment. On the second day all but one had used all the screencasts (the one who hadn’t thought he didn’t have Bb access) and said they “liked it”. I’ll continue to get feedback from them and adjust as we move forward.
A feature I’d like to start using is to have students use Jing to post questions to me. They could either use Bb or they could use my grade page to post those. Imagine being able to listen to a student showing where they were having problems in, say, Mathematica rather than getting their notebook and trying to discern their syntax!