Annotation and Screencasting to extend the reach of your classroom

In March, the CLS hosted a Brown Bag and workshop (see blog post here) where we discussed possibilities for creating online materials–annotated documents, instructional videos, and more–for language instructors to extend the reach of the classroom and open up class time for activities that there might not be time for otherwise. In this post, we (Dave, Adam, and Vincent) give you a taste of how you can do this with just a few of our favorites from among the hundreds of tools out there.

    1. Annotating materials. At the workshop, we presented PDF Markup by Kdan, one of many annotation tools available for the iPad and iPhone (Kdan also offers PDF Reader for Mac, Windows, Android, and iOS; more on these apps can be found here). PDF Markup allows you to read, annotate, and edit PDF documents on iPhone and iPad, using highlights, text, and freehand notes, sticky notes, arrows, shapes, etc. You can also use your device’s camera to scan a document or take a photograph, then save it as PDF to annotate. Or you can save a webpage to PDF to annotate. You can share your annotated PDF files via email or store them on the Kdan Cloud website and share links to your files (with 500MB of free storage), or move them to Box, Dropbox, GoogleDrive, iCloud, OneDrive, Evernote, etc. (Note: to get a sense of some of the other annotation tools out there, see this list, for instance)
    2. Creating screencasts. During the workshop, Zoom was demonstrated as a tool which can be used not only for web conferencing but also for recording screencasts with audio and video (or just recording audio and video). Zoom is free and cross-platform, meaning it can be installed on Mac, PC, Android and iOS, making it easy to produce screencasts using any device. Screencasts can be effective tools to create short lessons for students which they can watch outside of class allowing for in-class time to be more focused on practice rather than explanation.They can also be used to provide demonstrations and instructions on how to complete an assignment or a project. The image below gives an example of how a recording might look if you were to give a short tour via Google Maps Street View, for example. 

      To start getting acquainted with Zoom, you can check out this tutorial video series on YouTube. And, for a glowing review of features and some basic applications to language teaching, see this FLTMag article from last year. (Note: there are numerous applications available for screencasting as well; contact us if you’d like to talk about them).

    3. Weaving these resources together. One possible motivation for using both of these tools together is to record yourself discussing (with Zoom) an assignment that you’ve annotated with PDF Markup; another might be to give oral feedback on the ideas of a student essay that you had already marked up with written grammar feedback. To illustrate, here is an example of a screencast made with Zoom, using a PDF of the 2016 CLS Instructional Innovation Workshop call for proposals:

To learn more about using these or other tools, or to discuss other ideas for creating materials or activities for use within or outside of your classroom teaching, feel free to contact us. We’re available to meet individually to discuss your pedagogical goals, the materials or activities you might wish to develop, and the possible tools that could be put to use in service of those goals and plans.

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