Tuesday, August 16, 2011

ScreenCast Camp 2011

I was fortunate to attend the (first) TechSmith ScreenCast Camp, August 12-15 in Okemos, Michigan (TechSmith headquarters).  TechSmith was a GREAT host.  Lots of employees around to help and answer questions or just discuss ideas, maybe even talk about the software that they have (SnagIt , Jing, Camtasia...).  They even had places for us to "camp", inside on their couches or outside in your own tent (there is a hotel next door, and some people chose to pay & stay there). They provided food & beverages all weekend.  The food was excellent (thanks for all the fresh fruit, i needed that).

ScreenCast Camp was run as an "unconference" where attendees propose session topics (what do you want to learn about, what do you want to share, what do you want to discuss). These go up on a board (usually 2 or 3 per time slot), then people chose which to attend.  It leans more to sharing & discussing than lecture.  Some of the sessions I attended included
a) the flipped classroom & using screencasts to help accomplish this
b) how TechSmith makes screencasts
c) edu.epubbud.com & embedding videos in ePubs
d) using screencasts for feedback to students, as well as students creating screencasts for assessment & feedback
e) a screencasters little helpers (some of the other tools you utilize)
f) the 10 commandments of screencasting
g) mobile screencasting (iPads, tablets)
h) Camtasia 101
i) embed codes and tweaking them (from screencast.com & others)

I have many take aways from these 2 days, besides the mosquito bites.  One is the contacts at TechSmith.  Now I feel like I can email them to ask questions or suggest things for their products (we need to talk about education pricing for screencast.com).  I feel more inclined to participate in their Forums because I know that they will listen.  I want to incorporate more screencasting in my classroom (myself as well as the students) and the Camtasia and SnagIt software that they gave me will help me greatly (I have already loaded Jing on one set of iMacs in our computer lab, now to get the tech guys to load it on the Windows side and work out the "student screencast accounts" issue...).  I even won a door prize!!! A Wacom Bamboo that I gave to my art teacher.

I met some people who are doing similar things to what I envision and learned many things from them.  Dan helping people work to flip the classroom, Matt & some pointers about audio, Tricia & Helen showing off ePubs with video embedded, Russell using screencasting with his students, Anton talking about the other tools that help you with your screencast, and Dan with his "commandments." All these are things that will help me make more & better screencasts, which should help my students learn and showcase their learning.
(kella's notes from sessions)

I hope TechSmith tries to do this annually.  It is good to get together with people who are trying similar ideas for support and pointers.  It was nice to have people from different fields, getting ideas how "they" use it.   There was some talk of "taking it on the road" and spreading the word about screencasting, and that will be good.  But the road show will lack some important things, the environment at TechSmith HQ (the "playful" atmosphere, the couch meeting areas...) and the 30-40 employees who were there to share expertise & help with anything you needed.

I would like to bring TechSmith (a couple of people) to Podstock (end of June 2012, after ISTE) and most likely present sessions on screencasting.  There are 200+ dedicated movers & shakers in education at this conference and many are interested in learning more about this.

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