JISC Innovating eLearning conference – screencasting & digital literacy

This is rather belated, but in November I signed up for the JISC Innovating eLearning eConference.  Recordings of all of the sessions are available here: http://www.jisc.ac.uk/whatwedo/programmes/elearningpedagogy/elpconference11.aspx.

A couple of the most interesting sessions – for me, anyway – were Phil Ackroyd’s comments on screencasting and Lord David Puttnam’s keynote address on digital literacy.  Here are some of the notes I made:

Phil Ackroyd (City College Norwich), Screencasting

What do we mean by screencast?  Video, audio and screengrab – you can choose which of these you want to include.

Phil’s recommendation is to make screencasting an accepted part of toolkit – used anywhere, anytime.   Norwich use screencasting for staff training, student feedback (talking over a screen showing the student’s essay – personalizes feedback & very well received), an aide memoire, marketing, student peer assessment, teacher development.  Phil’s own aim is to replace lengthy booklets/handouts with screencasts and has created a library of over 100 screencasts.  These tend to be very short and context specific.

Software examples:

  • http://bit.ly/165LV – free windows based recorder
  • Camtasia (paid version required)
  • Jing (5 min limit)
  • Screenr (online – also 5 min limit)
  • Mediasite (expensive – added advantage of including video and allows live broadcasts too)
  • Personally, I’ve used Cam Studio for simple screen capture and voiceover but you do need to get the settings exactly right to avoid ‘audio lag’ (i.e. voice and screen getting out of sync).


  • Keep it short – a 5 minute limit is good!
  • State length of video in publicity (people need to know time commitment before they click the link)
  • It maybe considered re-inventing the wheel but it allows you to make quick, institution-specific, education-specific, fit for purpose learning objects
  • Don’t worry about it being too polished, especially when starting
  • Challenge students to make screencasts – encourages reflective learning as they watch screencasts as soon as they are complete.

Useful links / tips:

But does it improve achievement?  It’s not about the technology.  Hattie – any innovation will improve things if you do it with enthusiasm and diligently.  Encourages peer assessment, self-assessment, personalised feedback, etc.

David Puttnam, Towards a Digital Pedagogy (keynote speech)

There is an institutionalised reluctance by politicians, teachers etc to embrace digital changes.  Other fields (e.g. medicine) have changed dramatically over the last 100 years but teaching has not.

To win back learners, we need to view the digital world as they do – technology is not an add-on but an essential part of their lives impacting how they view, interpret and interact with the world.

Is teaching schizophrenic?  Generational divide – i.e. teachers under 40 are more likely to be digital natives (although this term may be misleading).

Why are we making such a meal of implementing digital pedagogy?  Mainly because we are only digitizing old practices.  Can’t use technology to produce the same practice / curriculum.

Teacher training should be non-negotiable and ongoing process.  Regular, preferably paid time-out for professional development.

Getting the education system right is the goal.  World class education secures world class NHS, world class pensions, etc.  It doesn’t work the other way around.  Educational expenditure is win-win.

One problem is copyright – want teachers to be able to use any material they want without worrying about copyright.  BUT as a trade-off, we will have to teach copyright and make our students very aware of it.

Challenges / themes:

Using technology creatively – it is a means to an end, not an end in itself.  It is/should be more than digitizing existing practice.

Potential of voice recognition tech to change learning at every level.

Prelude for societal change?

Post by: Sarah Pittaway

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