Screencasting! Using Video to Guide Student Understanding

On Thursday, 10/1/15, Lisa Prospert (Dietetics) and Jason Pellettieri (Biology) gave a presentation on how they use videos to guide student learning. While Lisa and Jason have the same goal in mind, their approach to creating videos is different.

Screencasting approach:
(Screencasting is the capture of  the action on your computer screen while you are narrating)

Lisa was driven by a desire to stay on track with the Nutrition Science classes she teaches but the back-to-back, multiple snow days during the 2015 spring semester created a challenge for her and her students so she decided to try something new.

Presenting her lectures with a narrated PowerPoint would give her students the opportunity to learn the material and the addition of a playback option would provide a chance to review content multiple times. Topics that involved calculations such as how to calculate food exchanges for meal plans were especially helpful but she quickly learned that audio embedded in PowerPoint files are huge making it cumbersome for student to easily download, listen and review.

She’s learned that mimicking a full lecture wasn’t what she wanted nor what her students needed and has since adopted the 8-10 minute mini-lecture format using a combination of Quick Time or Explain Everything to create her screencasts, and YouTube and Canvas for delivery.

Lisa’s advice for faculty colleagues is as follows:

  • Invest in a good microphone;
  • Create an outline of what you want to say. Even though you teach and are used to lecturing, a video needs to be succinct and to the point;
  • Create your video in a quiet environment.

Example: Dietary Exchanges Creating a Meal Plan created by Lisa Prospert
Using Explain Everything

Video production approach:
Jason’s motivation came from a semester long lab project in his upper level Developmental Biology class where students spent a lot of class time conducting experiments which meant there was a lot less time to cover content. The logical solution was to flip the classroom and create online lectures so his students had more time honing their lab techniques. He began scouring the internet for high quality video lectures but what he found did not meet his standards. Undeterred he created his own lectures narrating his PowerPoints using Screen Flow screencasting software but he wasn’t satisfied. He wanted to create something he and others could use over and over again and so producing a high quality lecture became his primary motivation.

Jason received a small grant and built a home studio complete with a rear projection screen and a writable surface. He received permission to use drosophila videos from other sources and began his project. He created a lecture outline, learned how to edit with Final Cut Pro, and practiced. And practiced some more. He ended up producing a series of five videos with over 50,000 You Tube views!

Example: Online Developmental Biology: Introduction to Drosophila created by Jason Pellettieri
Using Final Cut Pro

Lisa and Jason have different approaches but the result is the same: their students can review material multiple times and are ready with questions when class time rolls around allowing for deeper in-class discussions and gives Jason’s students more time to do lab experiments.

Software mentioned during presentation

Software Best uses Pros and cons
Quick Time Image and screen capture;

Very basic editing

Best for Mac users and is simple to use
Explain Everything Freehand drawing or calculations on a tablet;

Similar to Khan academy presentations.

$4 app for iOS and Android
Canvas – My Media Create screencasts, webcam videos, or upload existing files to Canvas. Easy to embed in discussion boards, assignments, and pages. Embedded in Canvas so it’s easy to repurpose in any Canvas course.



ScreenFlow Mac only


Final Cut Pro High quality video editing;




Best Practices for Screencasting

NEW March 2017 – Kaltura CaptureSpace Overview


Do Screencasts Really Work? Assessing Student Learning through Instructional Screencasts