In a previous post I mentioned how I stumbled upon 2 science teachers in Colorado who provide their students with screencasts of course material. Inspired by their success I began using CamStudio to create screencasts where I modeled how to solve chemistry word problems. I have a LaPazz pen tablet that allows me to write on my computer desktop and in microsoft programs like Word and Powerpoint. I posted the screencasts on Youtube so that my students could access them. I found that students responded very positively to having such a resource on-line. Many students with weak math skills struggle with the mathematics involved in chemistry, but with the screencasts students can not only watch me work through a problem step by step, but they also hear my recorded voice, narrating my thought process. I think this has potential to be a very powerful tool to help students improve their problem solving skills. To see the screencasts I made click here
After making my own screencasts I took it one step further and asked my students to create screencasts of themselves working through problems. I used this assignment for the first time as a way for students to earn extra points for questions they got wrong on a test. The students made their screencasts, explaining why they got certain questions wrong and explaining the correct way to solve the problem and then they sent the files to me electronically. Listening to the first couple student screencasts was really an incredible experience! To hear even my quietest students walk me through their work was really a teacher's dream. Using screencasts as an assignment is one way of making sure that students are taking the time to do their work and that they aren't copying it from someone else. It makes homework problem sets a form of authentic assessment. I find using screencasts in these two ways to be very exciting. I would like to do some research to determine whether the screencasts actually have a real positive effect on student performance.