Using Screen Capture Software to Help Reclaim Class Time

Think about how you teach. Now think about how students learn. What are some things you can do to ensure that there is congruence between your teaching style and students’ preferred way of retrieving and processing information?

Those were just some of the questions Dave Yearwood, associate professor and chair of the Technology Department at the University of North Dakota, posed during the recent online seminar, Supplement Classroom Learning with Screen Capture Software.

The goal of such reflections, he says, is not necessarily to teach to everyone’s preferred style but to take advantage of a variety of technologies and methodologies that would support student learning regardless of their cognitive style, he says.

One of the ways Yearwood supports diverse student learning styles is to supplement his face-to-face instruction with brief podcasts and vodcasts that students can listen to and watch on their iPods or laptops before class. An added benefit to doing this, and it’s an important one, is that it leads to more productive classes because students already have some familiarity with the content. Their questions are more insightful as they become engaged, active participants in their education, he says.

Some of the ways Yearwood suggests using screen capture software to help reclaim class time for more productive learning activities include:

  • Create tutorials and step-by-step video demonstrations on how to use laboratory equipment or specific software programs; provide training on a range of topics; or offer explanations and clarifications of complex concepts, etc.
  • Develop primer questions on course content for students to consider prior to coming to class.
  • Provide student feedback on assignments by augmenting textual corrections with speech and drawings.
  • Record chunked lectures, or break up longer lectures into smaller segments.

During the online seminar Yearwood provided demonstrations of Camtasia Studio screen recording software and SnagIt screen capture software, both are TechSmith products. He also outlined the hardware considerations for using screen casting tools in general.

While he readily admits that he’s a big proponent of technology, Yearwood cautions against the pitfalls of using technology for technology’s sake.

“Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the technology,” he says, “but you have to stop and ask yourself, ‘What’s the added value?’ ‘Will it make class time more productive?’ ‘Will it enhance student learning?’ If the answer is ‘yes’ then by all means, go for it.”