Since I teach a good bit online, I find that I’m always creating screencasts of presentations to share with my online students. The process goes something like this: I create a presentation (using PowerPoint or Keynote) and then use a piece of software (called ScreenFlow) to record myself giving the presentation. I then obsessively edit the recording, save it as a movie and then upload it to YouTube. Got all that? It can be kind of complicated but I feel that incorporating my voice is critical to the instructional process online. My students can hear me discuss my thoughts (and tell my corny jokes) and it gives them a sense that they’re interacting with a real educator, rather than just reading words on a screen.
While screencasting can be a little complicated, mybrainshark makes it really simple. After you create your presentation slides, you simply upload them and record what you want to say on each slide. The site can use your built in microphone or you can call into the site using a phone. The site really cannot be easier to use. It walks you through each step of the process and even provides a tutorial to show you how to record your own presentation. Best of all, the basic account is free.
Besides being a great tool for educators to present content to students, mybrainshark creates opportunities for students to make presentations as well. By allowing students to create and share presentations with their online classmates, mybrainshark can foster the development of learning communities, where ideas can be exchanged freely. Mybrainshark can be used with group presentations, with simple digital stories, or even as a means of building more student interaction into the online learning environment. Since the site allows the creations to be embedded in other locations (like Blackboard, Moodle or Desire2Learn), the presentations can serve as an assessment for students as well as a way to build more social learning experiences into an online course. Consider having a discussion board where students respond to a mybrainshark presentation by developing and embedding their own presentation. Since each mybrainshark presentation would contain the creator’s voice, the discussion board would be closer to a real discussion than a string of textual posts.