During the last few years, I have created dozens of screencasts that I have used in my class. When I first started creating screencasts, there were a few other ones out there. However, as we all know, during the past couple of years, flipping the classroom has become one of the hot topics in education, and there are now thousands upon thousands of educational videos on YouTube and other sites. Many of these are absolutely fantastic, and much better than anything that I am currently creating.
I have often considered just assigning a YouTube video to cover a topic for my students, but I always end up creating my own screencasts. Why do I insist on recreating the wheel, despite the fact that many of the available videos are of higher quality than my own feeble attempts? I think it comes down to a couple of different reasons.
For one, I like playing around with the technology. My screencasts are very basic, but the more I experiment with them, the better I get at creating useful, informative, and engaging content. The second and more important reason is that I think there is some value in students viewing my own videos and not somebody else’s. Not necessarily because of anything that I say or do in the screencasts, but simply because it is clear to my students that when creating these videos, I am extending myself out of my comfort zone.
I am by nature an introvert, and I find it very difficult to listen to my own voice or view my own face on a screen. I am very honest with my students about this fact, and I tell them that I am fully aware that my screencasts are far from the best ones out there. But, I also tell them that this is my attempt at trying something new. At taking a risk. At doing something that causes me some anxiety.
This argument comes in handy when I ask my students to take a risk in the classroom, which I do quite frequently. For instance, I use a great deal of art in my history classroom. I often have my students draw something as a way of demonstrating their knowledge, and since some students do not like to draw (or simply think that they cannot draw well), it can be a challenge for them to stand up in front of the class and present what they have produced. I might be overstating my case here, but I really do believe that if I as their teacher can model a behavior that assures them that it is ok to take a risk, it is ok to try your hand at something that you might not master completely, it is easier for my students to extend themselves beyond what is comfortable.
I firmly believe that if my students can laugh at my sometimes feeble attempts to try something new, it will be easier for them to do try something which causes them some discomfort. To be sure, this is easier for some than it is for others, but if I can set the example, I think that more students are willing to try. So, if you are thinking about creating a screencasts (or anything else), but you are not sure how it will turn out–try it! Even if it is not perfect, you will model good behavior for your students.