Screencast video feedback combines a screen capture walkthrough of a student’s paper with a thumbnail video of the instructor discussing their response. It is a particularly useful tool for remote learners and can be used instead of or alongside traditional written comments.
Overview of screencast video feedback
Researchers who study writing feedback report that students find screencast feedback more helpful and valuable than written feedback alone. Students report that screencast feedback is:
- Easy to understand
- Reinforces messaging through verbal and visual modes
- Facilitates personal connection and rapport,
- Increases autonomy and motivation, and
- Makes feedback and assessment processes more transparent.1
Scholars have especially noted the benefits of screencast feedback for English Language Learners, arguing that screencast feedback:
- Reinforces messaging through multiple modes
- Offers paratextual information like tone and body language that helps to facilitate language acquisition
- Allows instructors to demonstrate language skills in context
- Can use conversational tone and vocabulary to scaffold academic metalanguage
- Accounts for students’ face-saving needs (belonging, respect, autonomy) in the evaluative space 2
Screencast feedback may initially take more time to complete than traditional written responses; however, researchers (and personal experience!) indicates that it can quickly become both more efficient and more comprehensive than written comments alone.
- Screencast feedback does not need to be completely seamless or polished.
- We find it helpful to think of video feedback as a considered, dynamic, and conversational reader response, similar to an office hours conversation!
- Do spend time pre-reading, taking notes, and collecting your thoughts before recording your video.
- Don’t feel like you need to start over if you stumble over words or notice something new while you are recording. You may find that the final document you send to the student contains a mix of initial notes, changes made “live” during the video recording, and clarifying comments or links added after you finish recording.
- The biggest student complaint about screencast feedback is poor audio quality.
- Make sure that you speak loudly and slowly. If possible, we recommend using headphones with a built-in microphone to minimize background noise.
Prereading & preparing response
- Create a notation system that works for you.
- While pre-reading, it can be helpful to add brief marginal comments, highlights, or other annotations to the document so that you can remember the issues and examples you want to discuss in your video.
- Balance verbal and written comments.
- Studies suggest that students prefer video feedback for global questions and written feedback for sentence-level questions. You may find yourself providing a mix of both, depending on the assignment or focus of revision.
- We find it useful to focus the video response on 2-3 recurring issues or patterns and to address minor or non-recurring issues in a brief written comment.
Recording your video
- In addition to making comments or changes before you record, it can also be effective to make “live” changes while recording.
- For example, if your student wants help with commas, you can mark up one paragraph on video. The student will ultimately receive the marked-up paragraph and your explanation via video.
- Use visual and verbal cues to direct attention to a specific area.
- Whenever you refer to a specific line or section of the paper, highlight the text with your cursor so that the student can follow your remarks!
- Use screensharing to share and discuss external resources.
- In addition to screensharing the student’s paper, you can also screenshare assignment prompts, online handouts, internet resources, etc.
There are many different screencast recording programs available (Jing, Screencast-o-matic, etc.), each with pros and cons. In addition to using a dedicated screencast recording and hosting services, instructors can also record screencast videos locally and upload them to a cloud hosting service. Below are the pros and cons we identified for using Zoom to record screencast video at our writing center:
Pros of Zoom:
- CUNY students and faculty already have free accounts through campus access
- Videos can be any length and recorded and streamed directly from the cloud
- Settings can be changed to require password entry or campus SSO
- Recordings automatically generate captions
Cons of Zoom:
- Responses must be recorded in a single take and can’t be edited
- Cloud recordings can be disrupted by internet outages
- Inconsistent processing times for cloud recordings
Recording screencast feedback using Zoom
If you are using a Chromebook to record screencast feedback, please review the Chromebook-specific tips below.
Step 1: Change your Zoom cloud recording settings
You will only need to change your recording settings once. Unless you manually change these preferences, Zoom should apply them to all videos recorded in your personal meeting room.
1. Navigate to your Zoom recording settings page.
- Log into your Zoom account using your campus credentials.
- Select Settings from the left menu. If you don’t see the left menu, maximize your browser window to full screen.
- Then, select the Recording tab from the top menu
2. Set your cloud recording preferences.
- In the Recording tab, toggle on Cloud recording. This setting allows you to record directly to Zoom’s cloud server, rather than to your own computer.
- Under Cloud Recording, make sure that the following settings are enabled:
- ☑ Record active speaker with shared screen—This setting allows you to record your shared screen, in addition to a small video thumbnail of you speaking.
- ☑ Record thumbnail when sharing—This setting records a small thumbnail video of you speaking that overlays the feedback.
- ☑ Audio transcript—This setting automatically captions your speech. If desired, you can easily edit the transcript once the recording is done.
3. [Optional] Set additional access restrictions for your video.
- On the same Settings page, you can choose to password-protect your video by toggling on Require password to access shared cloud recordings,and/or you can require students to log in using their campus credentials by toggling on Only authenticated users can view cloud recordings.
Step 2: Record your feedback video
1. Start a meeting in your personal meeting room.
2. Share screen to pull up the student’s paper
- From the Zoom toolbar, click the green Share Screen.
- Select the application you want the student to view (ex. their Word document), and click the blue Share button.
IMPORTANT: When you share a single application from the bottom row(s), such as Word (highlighted in red above), the student will continue to only see Word—even if you click over to a website or PDF resource on your computer. If you want to move back and forth between multiple applications during your video, for example, to show Blackboard or a PDF resource, you can: A) share your entire desktop by clicking Screen in the top row (highlighted in green above) or B) switch between applications during your video by selecting New Share from the Zoom menu when you move between programs.
3. Record your feedback video to the cloud.
- In the Zoom toolbar, click More or […] and select Record to the Cloud to begin your recording.
IMPORTANT: The final video recording will always display the active speaker thumbnail in the top right corner of the screen, even if you minimize or drag the video thumbnail elsewhere on your own screen while recording. Avoid referencing content in the top right corner, as the student’s view will be blocked by the video thumbnail.
- Once you are finished recording, click Stop Recording on the Zoom toolbar or simply End Meeting. Note that your video will not start uploading until the meeting is officially “ended” and the meeting window is closed.
Step 3: Share your video
Videos usually take about 5-15 minutes to process. Once the video has finished uploading, you can access the video link (and password, if used this setting) in two ways:
- Access the video information through Zoom’s automated email. Zoom will send an automated email when the cloud recording is finished processing. This automated email contains the video link (and password, if you selected this setting) under Share recording with viewers.
- Access the video information through your Zoom account. Log into your Zoom account and click Recordings on the left menu and the Cloud Recordings tab from the top menu. Locate the relevant recording and click the gray Share… button. The Share popup screen contains the video link (and password, if you selected this setting) under Display detailed information.
Special instructions for Chromebook users
The below notes only apply to Chromebook users:
- On Chromebooks ONLY, sharing your screen automatically disables your camera. Unless you re-enable your camera, Zoom will record the shared screen, but not the thumbnail video.
- To record both your shared screen and a thumbnail video, you must: A) share your screen, B) click on the now crossed-out camera icon in the menu bar to re-enable your camera, and C) click “Record. You will not see your thumbnail image as you are recording on a Chromebook, but if you’ve re-enabled your camera, the thumbnail will appear in the recorded video.
- On Chromebooks ONLY, Zoom will automatically record to the cloud (you will not even see the option to record locally to your device). Therefore, clicking “Record” on a Chromebook will automatically record the video to the Zoom cloud.
1 Ali (2016); Anson (2016); see also Thompson & Lee (2012) and Silva (2012).
2 For discussion of screencast feedback in second language learning, see Ali (2016), Alvira (2016), Cunningham (2017, 2019), and Elola & Oskoz (2016).
Ali, Amira. 2016. “Effectiveness of Using Screencast Feedback on EFL Students’ Writing and Perception.” English Language Teaching 9 (8): 106–121.
Alvira, Roberto. 2016. “The Impact of Oral and Written Feedback on EFL Writers with the Use of Screencasts.” Revista PROFILE: Issues in Teachers’ Professional Development 18 (2): 79-92
Anson, Chris M., Deanna P. Dannels, Johanne I. Laboy, and Larissa Carneiro. 2016. “Students’ Perceptions of Oral Screencast Responses to Their Writing: Exploring Digitally Mediated Identities.” Journal of Business and Technical Communication 30 (3): 378–411.
Cunningham, Kelly J. 2017. “Appraisal as a Framework for Understanding Multimodal Electronic Feedback: Positioning and Purpose in Screencast Video and Text Feedback in ESL Writing.” Writing & Pedagogy 9 (3): 457–85.
—. 2019. “Student Perceptions and Use of Technology-Mediated Text and Screencast Feedback in ESL Writing.” Computers and Composition 52: 222–241.
Elola, Idoia, and Ana Oskoz. 2016. “Supporting Second Language Writing Using Multimodal Feedback.” Foreign Language Annals 49 (1): 58–74.
Grigoryan, Anna. 2017. “Feedback 2.0 in Online Writing Instruction: Combining Audio-Visual and Text-Based Commentary to Enhance Student Revision and Writing Competency.” Journal of Computing in Higher Education 29 (3): 451–76.
Silva, M. (2012). “Camtasia in the Classroom: Student Attitudes and Preferences for Video Commentary or Microsoft Word Comments During the Revision Process.” Computers and Composition 29 (1): 1-22.
Thompson, Riki and Meredith J. Lee. 2012. “Talking with Students through Screencasting: Experimentations with Video Feedback to Improve Student Learning.” Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy 1: 1-16.