Variously known as “podcasts,” “enhanced podcasts,” and “voiced-over PowerPoint presentations,” slidecasts are self-contained presentations combining images and narrations, which can be used in a variety of ways for teaching and learning. In this blog post, I propose some things to think about when planning and selecting tools for a slidecast. In a later post (part 2 of this series), I will offer suggestions for narrating and saving slidecasts.
Planning your slidecast
What is the pedagogical purpose of your slidecast? Your pedagogical purpose may influence other design decisions. Slidecasts may be used:
- As part of the online portion of a hybrid course. For example, in a flipped classroom, students review slidecasts at home and use class time to ask questions, solve problems, and interact with each other.
- To introduce yourself and your course to your students. For example, you can show screenshots of your course site, explain what your hybrid or online course works and offer tips for success. See a sample.
- To summarize or review important or difficult course concepts.
- To encourage students to be creators of media. For example, you can ask students to demonstrate their learning by submit slidecasts instead of or as a supplement to paper assignments.
- In place of in-class student presentations: students review each other’s slidecasts before class and class time is used for discussions and questions.
How long will your slidecast be? Shorter presentations are more likely to hold listeners’ full attention and result in smaller files, which can be downloaded and viewed more quickly. You can create shorter presentations by:
- Breaking up a long presentation into several parts.
- Preparing a series of 10-15 minute segments that can be viewed separately or as a whole. These short segments can be used and reused in several related courses.
- Using a program that generates a table of contents or offers ways to mark sections (e.g., Adobe Presenter). This allows listeners to easily choose which section to view when.
- Using a program (e.g., VoiceThread) that allows viewers to page through the slides and continue listening to the presentation after a break.
How will you design your slides to communicate information clearly? Presenting one idea per slide, using images to illustrate your point, and designing slides that are easy to read will increase the effectiveness of your presentation. The next blog post in this series will provide additional ideas about designing slides.
How will you make your slidecast accessible to a wide audience? To reach learners with different learning styles and/or learning disabilities, create presentations that follow the principles of universal design.
- Add captions to the presentations or provide transcripts of the audio portions.
- Include multiple ways of presenting information by using a combination of text, graphs, charts, animations, photographs, music and video.
Selecting appropriate tools
How will your audience view your slidecasts? Understanding the likely circumstances under which your audience members will be viewing your presentations will provide you with information about how to select a delivery platform and how to save the files for optimal viewing. Will your audience be viewing the slidecasts on laptops, desktops, or mobile devices? Will they have access to an Internet connection while they are viewing the slidecasts? Will they have access to a high-speed Internet connection?
What kind of delivery platform will you use? Different delivery platforms support different file formats and delivery mechanisms. You will need to select a platform that is compatible with how you would like the presentations to be delivered to your audience (e.g., online or offline, streamed or as downloaded file).
- Streaming requires a steady, reliable Internet connection and may be preferable if your presentation contains copyrighted materials and you need to restrict access to class members only. Platforms for hosting videos include YouTube, Vimeo, and the Hunter Video Network. Streaming presentations and videos can be embedded in or linked from Blackboard.
- Downloadable files can be viewed on computers and mobile devices without a live Internet connection, which may be useful if your students view the slidecasts on the subway. Small downloadable files can be uploaded to Blackboard.
Which slidecast creation tools are best suited for your delivery platform? You will need to save your slidecast in a format that is compatible with your delivery platform. Some programs, such as Camtasia and Adobe Presenter, give you the option of exporting or saving your slidecast in a wide variety of formats; however, these programs can take some time to learn. Other programs that are less complex, such as VoiceThread, GarageBand, Keynote, QuickTime Player and Jing, offer a smaller variety of formats for saving and exporting. Some recent online presentation tools such as Knovio and Movenote allow you create and share slidecasts on the web.
Which slidecast creation tools best fit your recording style and editing requirements? A multitude of software programs are available for creating slidecasts, each of which offers different options for recording and editing. For example, some programs allow for re-recording of specific slides (e.g., VoiceThread, Keynote, Knovio) and detailed editing of the audio track (e.g., Garageband) while others cannot be easily changed. To discover which programs best meet your needs, consider experimenting with several and going through a complete workflow, including the process of editing, saving and uploading or embedding onto the course management system you are using.