File and keep

28th May 2004 at 01:00
Jack Kenny welcomes a rival piece of recording software

Screencorder 4

Single-user licence pound;99, 5-user pound;299, 20-user pound;699 Matchware, 22a Hill Street, Richmond, Surrey TW9 1TW Tel: 020 8940 9700 www.matchware.netendefault.htm

Sometimes you find pieces of software that are not only full of potential, but easy to install and painless to learn. Screencorder is one of these.

One of the best teachers I know transformed his teaching with software such as this (his was Camtasia - see opposite page). The start of his lessons often involves complicated explanations combined with intricate work on computer screen or whiteboard. A few years ago, he noticed that many of his pupils' questions arose because they had not completely understood or paid sufficient attention. What the software enabled him to do was record the opening of the lesson. Every keystroke and mouse movement was recorded, as well as his voice explaining what was going on. The resulting file, like a little video, was placed on the school intranet and pupils who were confused or inattentive could replay it until everything was clear, and those who had been away could catch up, and those who wanted to revise could go back.

So how easy is all this to do? With Matchware's Screencorder it is simplicity itself. The recording does not have to be of the beginning of a lesson. You might want to spend time perfecting the explanation of a complex process. You might want to delete repetitions or stumbles. You might even want to give control of the software to some of the pupils, working on the theory that the best way to learn is to teach. Or you might want to create explanations aimed at different levels of ability. You can also add material to existing recordings.

It has so many uses for ICT across the curriculum. If you want to describe a process such as editing video, you can start the recorder and talk it through as you do it, and save the recording. Your pupils can play it through if they did not understand it the first time round. Anyone who was absent can find the file and play it back.

What all this does is increase the chances of your pupils working autonomously. The major flaw of whole-class teaching is its lack of respect for the individual. File sizes are small (about 100kB per minute) and you can join files together, adding comments and pictures.

Like all good software, when you use it you think of more uses for it. It enables you to record the things that you do over and over - and that will enable you to spend more time with individuals, doing the real teaching.

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