Evidencing School Coursework Using A Screen Recorder

One of the major concerns for school I.T. staff is ensuring that submitted vocational GCSE coursework is genuinely the work of the student, and not that of a third party - be that a friend, family member or simple plagiarism. Screen capture software allows ICT teachers to evidence coursework, whilst also raising the quality of learning.

[UKPRwire, Mon Aug 17 2009] One of the major concerns for school I.T. staff is ensuring that submitted vocational GCSE coursework is genuinely the work of the student, and not that of a third party - be that a friend, family member or simple plagiarism.

Evidence suggests that cheating at coursework is on the increase. Recent government strategies to improve the education of children have meant the pressure on students to do well is now at an all-time high. And the temptation to plagiarise has been further exacerbated by the ready availability of coursework material on the Internet, so forcing many examiners to check the authenticity of work submitted.

Where coursework is computer-based, screen-capture technology is a quick and easy solution to preventing fraudulent activity, whilst also recording the on-screen journey taken by the student in tackling an assignment.

Simon Bath, Head of ICT at Kingsmead School near Taunton, teaches Year 9 students and has previously worked as a moderator for the exam board, Edexcel. He said: “Evidencing coursework is of particular importance in ICT and e-learning, because students are required to provide process-based evidence of how they used a particular piece of software. In a course like Edexcel’s DIDA - the Diploma in Digital Applications that focuses on the practical application of technology - 14 out of the 40 marks are awarded for demonstrating vector tools or bitmaps, and this type of coursework can be submitted in paper-based form – as screenshots, for example – but the method is far from ideal as you can’t always tell from screenshots what tools have been used in getting to the end result.

“What’s long been needed in the teachers toolbox is a simple program that can create electronic portfolios for evidencing coursework,” he said.

Simon’s search for such a tool led him to first seek a product funded by the government for use exclusively in schools. When a suitable product wasn’t available, he looked at the commercial market, where he discovered the humble screen recorder.

Screen recorders have a range of uses that are applicable to a school or learning environment. For example:

• To demonstrate an application or service.
• To produce ‘how-to’ films (for example, how to use a specific feature in a computer program).
• To create narrated demonstrations – this is particularly useful as software becomes more complex, allowing users, reviewers and developers to share their understanding.
• By teachers and trainers wanting to develop engaging tutorials
• By students needing to evidence coursework
• Home PC users who want to distribute on-screen content and record creation of computer art, photo and design projects

Simon found a suitable screen recorder from a company called Blueberry Software - who also offer a freeware screen recorder called BB FlashBack Express.

“BB FlashBack is very simple to use,” Simon said. “It has a familiar Flash interface and exports easily to other popular formats. Any portion of the screen can be selected for recording (full desktop, a window, or a region). It can even review your recording frame-by-frame with the VCR-like movie player. And when the recording is finished, the software is able to output to WMV or Flash."

Once the program is started, it runs in the background, recording everything you see on your desktop until you select the ‘stop’ icon in the recorder tray. The computer and any applications are used exactly as normal during the recording process. It then saves the recording as a movie file, ready to output in a range of formats.

Simon said: “As a tool for evidencing screen-based coursework, the screen recorder is perfect.”

However, the ability to record a screen - whether it’s a PC monitor or an interactive whiteboard – has other advantages, too.

“The program has changed the reach and effectiveness of my teaching,” Simon said. “The fact that a screen recorder is capable of recording exactly what is done on a computer screen, what a user says and how they interact with any Windows-based application or website, has other applications within a school environment.

“For example, I have students at all levels of ability in my lessons, and a screen recorder is tailor-made for helping every student in the class keep up, by allowing the same lesson to be differentiated to the correct level for each child.

“You can imagine the situation where the quicker pace of able pupils can leave those that are lagging behind very frustrated. And if a teacher wanted to create different lessons to cover a range of abilities, you can see how there wouldn’t be enough hours in the day to do it.

“With a screen recorder, I can record my lesson during class and share the video file of the lesson afterwards with any student who was absent, so they can go over it in their own time. Students who process things slower are able to follow and understand the lesson much better, too - because they can repeat a portion of the lesson, or all of it if the want, as many times as they need.

“As an example, I have an autistic child in my class, who is now able to keep up with the speedier learners because he can go over the work and take it in at his own speed in his own way.

“If a teacher is away, a non-subject specialist can take that lesson if it’s already been recorded and prepared using a screen recorder. Usually, a supply teacher would give the children a task to occupy them, rather than progress their learning. Using a screen recorder, a teacher can now record a lesson in advance so they can familiarise themselves with both the software and the up-coming lesson without the teacher needing to be I.T. trained.

“Screen recorders are invaluable to Support Assistants, too. They sometimes deal with ‘statemented’ pupils, providing allocated assistance specific to a child. The assistants can now still be active participants in the lesson – proceeding at their own speed.”

“The BB FlashBack program is a very intuitive screen recorder,” Simon added, “which means anyone without ICT experience can use it.”

Kingsmead School has a written policy to treat every child as unique, and to nurture individual skills by ensuring each pupil receives the right level of support to fulfil their potential.

“The reality is that teaching to a class of students who have widely contrasting abilities poses significant challenges,” Simon concluded. “Without assistive programs like BB FlashBack, how do you differentiate lessons to cater for students of different abilities and levels of learning?

“I believe screen recorders are a necessary application to have in the teaching repertoire of I.T. literate schools. Firstly as a foolproof way of evidencing coursework, and secondly as an essential aid to raising the quality of learning.”

Martin Green, MD of Blueberry Software added: “It is a fact of life that ‘Show-and-tell’ is the most effective way of communicating information from one person to another. No surprise, then, that with the explosion in computer-ownership worldwide, the screen recorder has become the best way to capture the total PC user experience. It can be used to record and explain your every move on the computer.”

BB FlashBack Express can be downloaded and used free of charge by visiting: http://www.bbsoftware.co.uk

Company: Blueberry Software

Contact Name: raspal

Contact Email: raspal.chima@bbconsult.co.uk

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