3 Tips to Make Useful Screencasts for Professional Development

Posted on Posted in Leaders


As leaders, there is a difference between providing resources and being a resource for our staff.  One of an administrator’s largest responsibilities used to be making sure staff had all of the resources they needed for their classes.  While it is important to provide staff with essentials for instruction, today’s leaders need to place the greatest priority on being a resource for their staff members.


There are many different ways leaders are resources for their staff: lead learners, collaborators, evaluator, and professional colleague to name a few.  As lead learners, we need to provide our staff members with tools and information they can use to improve as teachers.  A great way to do this is by creating screencasts for professional development.


If you don’t know, screencasts are digital recording of computer screen output that often contain audio narrations.  Screencasts first began as tutorials for different software applications.  Soon they were used in the education setting to demonstrate how to do different things from solving problems to using certain sites or apps.  They are very easy to create and to share the recordings with others.  There are many sites available that have tutorials on how to create screencasts.  I personally like to use Screencast-O-Matic; it is free and you can make videos up to 15 minutes in length (which as you will read is a no-no).  I simply record my videos and then upload them to my YouTube channel for viewers.


Many leaders have found that screencasts are excellent for transforming professional development and reinvigorating traditionally boring events such as staff meetings.  As the use of screencasts increases, there are definitely some “do’s” and “don’ts” when creating effective and useful screencasts:


Set Your Viewers Up to Be Successful

It is always useful to give your viewers a background on screencasts and why you are sharing the videos with them.  In the past, I informed my different staff we were going to use screencasts as a way to free up time for them to meet as collaborative teams.  I also provide viewers with steps on how to view the screencasts and explain the importance of them knowing they can watch the videos whenever they choose.  It’s also important to provide them a place to ask questions and share thoughts on the videos.  I enjoy using Padlet as means for staff to share input and also see what others say about the videos.  Providing the proper framework gives the viewer a deeper understanding of the videos.


“Videos under 90 seconds see an average retention rate of 53%, but videos over 30 minutes retain only 10%.”  — Vidyard


Set an Appropriate Time Limit

I try to limit my videos to 5 minutes.  There is plenty of marketing research that states the shorter the video the better.  Professional development isn’t much different.  You have a certain amount of time to engage staff members.


While it’s important to make shorter videos, it is also imperative to move slowly and give extensive explanations on your movements.  Create a script to follow before you begin recording.  I use a bulleted list format to lead me in the right direction.  I also make sure I am not skipping any steps that may leave the viewer disoriented on using the resource.  


Create Relevant Videos

Don’t begin screencasting just to screencast.  Make sure your videos are relevant and useful for the staff.  Try highlighting a resource and giving instructions on how to access the resource and use it.  Focus on being an instructional leader and share different methods and resources that will make an impact on learning.  If you can tell a story while sharing the information, even better.


Here is an example of a screencast I created and shared with staff on how to use DitchThatTextBook.Com and some of the resources Matt Miller highlighted:


“Effective leaders know resources are never the problem; it’s always a matter of resourcefulness.”  — Tony Robbins


Instructional leaders are resources for their staff.  We are leaders of change and assist staff to determine the impact of methods, pedagogy and curriculum on student learning.  As we do this each day, it’s important to not lose sight that we are also change agents.  We model how information is communicated and presented.  Try using screencasts during your school year and be a resource for your staff and stakeholders.  You leadership will grow and so will your staff.