This past summer as we prepared for the challenges and uncertainies of the COVID-19 dominated 2020-21 academic school year, our head of school asked me to work on an educational technology challenge. How could our teachers best share face-to-face / in-person lesson recordings with students who either chose or were required to learn at home because of COVID-19? I almost wrote my dissertation on “lecturecasting,” and in the past I’ve experimented with quite a few tools and workflows for capturing and sharing class lectures with students either as audio recordings / podcasts or videos. I ended up deciding to call the procedures and “workflows” I developed for our faculty “lesson casts,” because while high school and middle school teachers may be comfortable with the term “lecture cast” for capturing in-class lessons, I didn’t think that vocabulary would resonate as well with our elementary and PreK/K teachers. All the resources relating to lesson casts which I developed are available on our school’s instructional support website, and they are openly licensed under Creative Commons. In this post, I’ll share a few highlights. I’d love to hear your feedback and for you to use / remix / share these resources with other educators who might find them useful.
"Lesson Cast" (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer
At the top of the Lesson Cast resource page, I’ve linked a slideshow as well as embedded a 4 minute overview video summarizing what Lesson Casts are NOT and what they ARE.
A LESSON CAST is NOT a live videoconference with students located remotely / apart from the teacher.
A LESSON CAST is:
- a recording of an in-class lesson which will be shared LATER with students
- a way to share instruction / lesson content with students (in addition to no-edit videos and edited videos)
- a fast way to share a video with a MINIMUM NUMBER OF STEPS
While some of our teachers are CHOOSING to connect LIVE with students via a videoconference like Google Meet or Zoom, our school policy for at-home learners (our “Strategic Plan Forward for 2020-21” terms this “flex learning”) does not require that teachers connect live simultaneously with in-person / in-class students and at-home flex learners. I am very thankful for this, since it is VERY difficult for even experienced online / distance learning instructors to fully engage both in-person and remote students in the same class simultaneously. I’ve attempted it multiple times, and it’s very hard.
Our school has opted to license “G Suite Enterprise for Education” this year, since Google is discontinuing free recording of Google Meet videoconferences for educators on 30 September 2020. During our “emergency remote learning” time in March – May 2020, when all our students and teachers had to shelter at home because of COVID-19, our school starting requiring teachers to record all videoconferences with students. There were several reasons for this, in my understanding, including the fact that this allows students who can’t attend a videoconference “live” to watch the recording later, but also because it was good from a liability and accountability standpoint for both teachers and the school.
Since Google Meets is our preferred and recommended videoconferencing platform for our middle and high school teachers, the primary recommended “Lesson Cast” workflow I developed and recommend for our teachers uses Google Calendar, Google Meets, and Google Drive. This is the “Lesson Cast with a Laptop” option, and I created both a 12 minute video tutorial demonstrating the steps as well as a detailed, step-by-step tutorial for these procedures. A recording of a 54 minute webinar from early August 2020 with our faculty is also available, both on our Lesson Casts resource page as well as our “Genius Bar” workshops page, which includes a variety of archived professional development sessions for our teachers led by me as well as other instructors.
Many of our teachers have iPads as well as MacBook Air laptops, so in addition to that Lesson Cast workflow using a laptop, I also created several recommended workflows using iPads. One challenge of using an iPad is that its video card isn’t powerful enough (or maybe just configured with the functionality) to simultaneously send video via AirPlay to an AppleTV, AND share video to a videoconference app. I developed three different recommended workflows for lesson casting with an iPad:
- iPad Directly Into Google Classroom (6 min) – Step-by- Step Instructions
- iPad and Google Drive (21 min, 21 sec)
- Mirrored iPad and Laptop Video (3.5 min) – Step-by-Step Instructions
If you choose to use either an iPad or iPhone to directly record and share video into Google Classroom (option 1 above) be aware there is a 10 minute time limit for videos.
My favorite option of these choices is the third one, since I teach with my iPad for my 6th grade media literacy students, who this semester all have new 7th generation iPads with the LogiTech Crayon stylus. Students are using iPads, so I need to be using and teaching with my iPad for them, and this lesson cast workflow lets me simultaneously share my iPad screen via AirPlay and AppleTV with in-person / face-to-face students AND share it in the Google Meets videoconference recording.
Here’s an example of a lesson cast video recording I made last week, in our “Google Certification Genius Bar meetup” on “YouTube Tips and Tricks.” More details about this are available in this blog post I shared on September 25th. This video (and many others) are also available on our instructional support website “Genius Bar” page.
What strategies are you using to capture in-person lessons with students and share them with remote / flex learners at home? We’ve been teaching face-to-face with about 90% of our enrolled students since August 14th, and that’s an anomaly for Oklahoma schools right now. Most of our surrounding public school districts started the school year remote, and many have only recently gone back to face-to-face classes. It’s a crazy school year, and no one is sure day to day / week to week what situations we’ll face.
This year because of the demands of COVID-19 and our staffing situation with faculty members taking maternity leave, I’m teaching two sections of introductory 5th grade Spanish as well as four sections of 5th and 6th grade Media Literacy. Most of my lessons and curriculum are shared publicly (and also licensed CC-BY) on mdtech.casady.org. I just wrapped up a five part unit with my 6th graders on Conspiracy Theories, and we’re halfway through a three-part unit on sketchnoting. My 5th grade Spanish students have been creating dialogs / conversations and sharing them as both green screen puppet videos and now narrated Scratch animated projects. We’re having a lot of fun and (hopefully) learning a lot together.
Please use and share any of these resources you find helpful! If you have a question or comment (and especially if you use any of these resources) please reach out to me on Twitter @wfryer or via a comment below. I also have an electronic contact form if you prefer.
Good luck with your own lessoncasting! In addition to the lesson cast resources, check out the other “teacher created video” resources on our instructional support website, which include:
Last of all, don’t forget there are so many ways students can “show what they know with media!” 🙂 Hopefully some updates to that book series (which I originally called “Mapping Media to the Common Core”) will be coming soon!
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