Educator's Review: ScreenWatch Producer 5.0 Multimedia Lectures Direct to the

Today multimedia presentations have become a popular method to deliver class course content in many disciplines. Textbook publishers provide PowerPoint slide presentations, lecture outlines, spreadsheet applications and other electronic resources for instructors to use in their classrooms. These publisher-prepared materials generally provide coverage of the textbook concepts and save faculty a great deal of lecture preparation time. The instructors still have the ability to maintain complete control over their classroom materials by personalizing these resources by adding, deleting, or modifying them.

While these packaged resources are often useful, a new software tool, ScreenWatch Producer 5.0, provides instructors an opportunity to easily create original, high-quality multimedia presentations themselves, complete with a table of contents.

The software provides instructors the ability to create and record high-quality multimedia presentations and easily post them to the Web for playback. The full-motion and full-screen recording software combines video and/or voice of the instructor with computer applications, spreadsheets, PowerPoint, or whiteboard content in real-time for Web streaming. With a few keystrokes, the professional-grade recordings can be stored on a server without additional programming or post-production effort for immediate retrieval. The ScreenWatch application presents a lecture that is very similar to what g'es on in a live traditional classroom and is available anytime for the students to view.

Applying to Instruction
PowerPoint and spreadsheet applications are frequently used to illustrate accounting concepts and procedures. I have used ScreenWatch for my accounting classes and found that the students preferred PowerPoint presentations created by ScreenWatch to the traditional in-class PowerPoint slide presentations.

The software is easy to install by a “low-tech” person. Once installed, most faculty can learn how to use the software in approximately three hours with the assistance of their computer technicians. The technical service provided by the software developer is helpful. They took me through the process of making my first ScreenWatch class from start to finish and helped the university computer technicians install the software on the university server.

ScreenWatch Producer is a screen-capture software program supporting RealServer, Linux, Solaris, HP-UX, and Windows 2000/ NT systems. It records using Windows 2000 and XP and plays back using RealNetworks and Windows Media streaming technology.

Once the software is installed and running, all the instructor has to do is call up the PowerPoint presentation or any other computer application such as a spreadsheet or Word document to use for class presentations. The applications can be minimized and accessed while ScreenWatch is running. The Word document, for example, could be a lecture outline. Instructors can demonstrate the step-by-step creation of spreadsheet applications and access the Internet to demonstrate how to search or view information on a particular Web site. Everything will be captured in the lecture presentation file.

General Benefits
The software is easy to use by a relatively “low-tech” instructor. Within one day, a new user can prepare excellent class presentations. An important feature of ScreenWatch is the software compression that permits students with a dial-up modem to view the class with the same quality as using a high-speed connection. The software is ideal for an online learning environment, student-centered learning, and when students are absent from class. The video option places the instructor in a region on the screen so the viewers can see the instructor. Faculty members will appreciate the fact that they can post their presentations to their Web site immediately after recording without the help of computer technicians.

Because all students do not comprehend classroom material at the same rate, ScreenWatch can be a better way to deliver classroom lectures as students can view the lecture as many times as needed. With the easy-to-create table of contents, instructors can provide the student with a convenient way to access a specific section of the lecture. Students with learning difficulties, poor note-taking skills, or special needs are better served.

The software includes Milori Training Tools that let instructors use “hotkeys” to underline, write on the slides, magnify, spotlight a section of the computer screen, highlight screen material, or put boxes/ circles around important information.

For PowerPoint presentations, I use an interactive process whereby the students mark up their paper copy of slides with my comments. I can review their work to verify that they viewed the class by grading their marked up copies of my lectures.

Advantages for Higher Ed
Faculty will like the ease of use and the ability to prepare lectures that can be used for multiple sections or in the next term. I put extra effort in designing a better lecture because I know that many lectures can be used again. I can record a live class or prepare a lecture in my office. One downside is that it took as long as 30 minutes to publish a lecture to an external server. I was permitted to work on other computer applications so the time was not lost.

The ScreenWatch lectures provide an opportunity for individual instructors or administrators to critique or evaluate the quality of instruction. These critiques may be used to supplement student evaluations. By critiquing my own ScreenWatch classes, I have been able to make improvements in my teaching methods.

For classes with multiple sections, ScreenWatch provides for consistent quality of presentation over different sections. Approximately 40 percent of my course is a ScreenWatch class. The other 60 percent of my accounting class is a more traditional class where I work accounting problems, answer questions, and interact with the students. Students are only required to attend the regular classes.

I believe ScreenWatch software should be as common as blackboards and overhead transparencies were 30 years ago once faculty experience its benefits.

Dr. Norman Meonske is a Professor of Accounting at Kent State University and an online instructor for the Beckerconviser CPA/CMA review course. To view an example of his ScreenWatch presentations, please visit: rtsp://realserver.kent.edu/nmeonske/syllabusfinal.smi.

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