So I said in the first post in this series that I would start in with the workflow and tool set I use for making the different kinds of screencasts I do. But there’s a “square one” to the workflow that is common to all of these and needs to be discussed first: Planning. If you dive into any project without careful planning, you might end up with a roaring success — but more likely you will come up with nothing worth sharing. Screencasts, being a kind of project, are no different. Careful work on the front end greatly simplifies the work on the back end and improves the overall results.
The planning stage of a screencast for me has five distinct parts.
1. Settle on a small number of coherent main ideas to discuss. I set a limit on the length of all my screencasts at 10 minutes. This is…
Since I started to put serious amounts of time and effort into screencasting last summer, I’ve gotten a lot of requests to blog about how I go about making these things. Starting with this post, I’m going to do a multi-part series here about making screencasts — or at least how I make screencasts, which is a long way from perfect or canonical, but it’s what people asked for! I hope it’s useful for people who are interested in this kind of thing and need some pointers; and I hope too that those with more experience and better ideas than I have can share.
First, let’s start with a few FAQ’s.
Q:What is a screencast?
A: A screencast is a video of stuff that is happening on your computer screen. There is often, but not always, some kind of voiceover happening in…
This week I’ve been immersed in the inverted classroom idea. First, I gave this talk about an inverted linear algebra classroom at the Joint Meetings in New Orleans and had a number of really good conversations afterwards about it. Then, this really nice writeup of an interview I gave for MIT News came out, highlighting the relationship between my MATLAB course and the MIT OpenCourseware Project. And this week, I’ve been planning out the second iteration of that MATLAB course that’s starting in a few weeks, hopefully with the benefit of a year’s worth of experience and reflection on using the inverted classroom to teach technical computing to novices.
One thing that I didn’t talk much about at the Joint Meetings or in the MIT interview was perhaps the most prominent thing about using the inverted …
My calculus class hit optimization problems this week — or it might be better to say the class got hit by optimization problems. These are tough problems because of all their many moving parts, especially the fact that one of those parts is to build the model you plan to optimize. Most of my students have had calculus in high school, but too many calculus courses in high school as well as college focus almost primarily on algorithms for computation and spend little to no time with how to create a model in the first place. Classes that are so structured are doing massive harm to students in a number of ways, but that’s for another post or two.
Careful study of worked-out examples is an essential part of understanding optimization problems (though not the only part, and this alone isn’t sufficient). The textbook has a few of these. The professor can provide more, but class time really …
So we started back to classes this past week, and getting ready has demanded much of my time and blogging capabilities. But I did get some new screencasts done. I finished the series of screencasts I was making for our calculus students to prepare for Mastery Exams, a series of short untimed quizzes over precalculus material that students have to pass with a 100% score. But then I turned around and did some more for my two sections of calculus on functions. There were three of them. The first one covers what a function is, and how we can work with them as formulas:
The second one continues with functions as graphs, tables, and verbal descriptions:
And this third one is all on domain and range:
The reason I made these was because we were doing the first section of the Stewart calculus book in one day of class. If you know this book, you realize this is impossible be…
By my count, this past week I produced and posted 22 different screencasts to YouTube! Almost all of those are short instructional videos for our calculus students taking Mastery Exams on precalculus material. But I did make two more MATLAB-oriented screencasts, like last week. These focus on creating contour plots in MATLAB.
Here’s Part 1:
And Part 2:
I found this topic really interesting and fun to screencast about. Contour plots are so useful and simple to understand — anybody who’s ever hiked or camped has probably used one, in the form of a topographical map — and it was fun to explore the eight (!) different commands that MATLAB has for producing them, each command producing a map that fits a different kind of need. There may be even more commands for contour maps that I’m missing.
I probably won’t match this week’s output next week, as I’ll be on the road in …
I’ve just started on a binge of screencast-making that will probably continue throughout the fall. Some of these screencasts will support one of my colleagues who is teaching Calculus III this semester; this is our first attempt at making the course MATLAB-centric, and most of the students are alums of the MATLAB course from the spring. So those screencasts will be on topics where MATLAB can be used in multivariable calculus. Other screencasts will be for my two sections of calculus and will focus both on technology training and on additional calculus examples that we don’t have time for in class. Still others will be just random topics that I would like to contribute for the greater good.
Here are the first two. It’s a two-part series on plotting two-variable functions in MATLAB. Each is about 10 minutes long.
Part of the reason I’m doing all this, too, is to force myself …
It’s a beautiful day here on the shores of Lake Michigan as the ICTCM gets underway. It’s a busy day and — to my never-ending annoyance — there is no wireless internet in the hotel. So I won’t be blogging/tweeting as much as I’d like. But here’s my schedule for the day.
8:30 – Keynote address.
9:30 – Exhibits and final preparations for my 11:30 talk.
10:30 – “Developing Online Video Lectures for Online and Hybrid Algebra Courses”, talk by Scott Franklin of Natural Blogarithms.
11:10 – “Conjecturing with GeoGebra Animations”, talk by Garry Johns and Tom Zerger.
11:30 – My talk on using spreadsheets, Winplot, and Wolfram|Alpha|Alpha in a liberal arts calculus class, with my colleague Justin Gash.
12:30 – My “solo” talk on teaching MATLAB to a general audience.
12:50 – “Programming for Understanding: A Case Study in Linear Algebra”, talk by Daniel Jordan.
Salman Khan is a former financial analyst who quit his day job so that he could form Khan Academy — a venture in which he makes instructional videos on mathematics topics and puts them on YouTube. And he has certainly done a prolific job of it — to the tune of over a thousand short videos on topics ranging from basic addition to differential equations and also physics, biology, and finance. Amazingly, he does this all on his own time, in a remodeled closet in his house, for free:
I can attest to the quality of his linear algebra videos, some of which I’ve embedded on the Moodle site for my linear algebra course. They are simple without being dumbed down, and what he says about the 10-minute time span in the PBS story is exactly right — it’s just the right length for a single topic.
What do you think about this? What role do well-produced, short, simple, free video…
I just returned from the Camtasia workshop. The originally-scheduled speaker, it turns out, got stranded in Dallas after that city got six inches of snow last night. (This is Texas, right?) So the conference organizers were scrambling to find somebody with Camtasia experience. I suggested that they go pull somebody from the TechSmith booth in the exhibitor area, and a few minutes later they returned with Dave McCollom and Mike [sorry, can't remember the last name]. Those two proceeded to put on a fun, engaging, and hugely informative workshop on the fly with zero preparation time. They even ended right on time. I think that says a lot about the company and the product it makes.
Very, very impressed with Camtasia. It has a simple user interface (very similar to iMovie) and lots of options. My partner and I in the workshop put together a 3-minute Flash video on xFunctions, complete with…
I am a mathematician and educator with interests in cryptology, computer science, and STEM education. I am affiliated with the Mathematics Department at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan. The views here are my own and are not necessarily shared by GVSU.
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