Monday, May 1, 2017

Short Video Walk-Throughs Help Your Students

Each semester, we face the challenge of getting our students properly registered with their login credentials for their learning management system, adaptive quizzing platforms, course software or websites, and online textbook resources.

I think that most of us provide detailed instructions in our syllabi, on a course website or (even better) a no-password public web page. But despite our best efforts at providing fool-proof instructions, there always seems to be a large group of students who just can't seem to get off on the right foot and hit one or another snags in trying to get logged into everything and squared away.

I've found that supplementing your written instructions with a personalized video walk-through of all the steps necessary works wonders.  By simply going through each step as a I describe it out loud while it's all being captured by video capture software, students can see exactly which buttons to click, which forms to fill (and what data to fill in), and can be warned off of possible pitfalls during the registration procedure.

I usually sign up using an email I set up using the name of my pet fish, Clyde.  But sometimes that doesn't work if I need a purchased product code or need an official student email address or other credential.  In those cases, you can sometimes get a trial product code or fake student credential from the powers in charge of those things.  For example, at one college we had one fake student in the system—which allowed us to test our courses.

There are many free plugins out there that allow you capture your voice and your browser activity in real time as a video clip.  Here are a few that I've used:
By taking just a few minutes to walk (and talk) through the process while the browser screen is being captured, you can reduce student anxiety and give them a more positive "first impression" of your course. An added benefit is that you'll spend less time answering panicked calls and emails from frustrated students—giving you more time to prepare those brilliant class activities!

Here's a sample of a screencast in which I show my students how to get started with an online anatomy program that comes with their textbook. Notice that I start with a photo that's open in a viewer window that is in front of (overlaying) the browser window. After the introductory discussion, I close the photo viewer, revealing the browser, where I walk the student through the registration process.

Top photo: Raven3k
Bottome photo: theveravee