Friday, March 18, 2005

Screencasting and the heavy metal umlaut

I was going to do a post on eLearning... maybe another time. Instead, I got sidetracked by a screencast from Jon Udell about the Wikipedia entry on the Heavy Metal Umlaut. I can't remember which blog first pointed me there, but when I first saw it, I didn't realise what it was. I didn't see the video controller thing, because it was off the bottom of the screen. I didn't hear the spoken commentary because I was using my laptop in the living room and had the sound turned down. I was trying to read the article and got very confused when the screen started changing. Silly me! Once I realised what was happening I was impressed.

Can a group of people, working more or less independently, produce a reliable encyclopedia? I remain unconvinced, but this is an interesting analysis of the development of a Wikipedia page. It clearly shows how a Wiki can be fairly robust at resisting malicious damage. (Parental Guidance warning: the screencast does document an act of vandalism that includes some rude words... you have been warned.) It shows what a Wiki is and how it works... and does so very effectively.

However, the main reason I decided to write something about the screencast here is not because of what is says about Wikis. I wanted to write about it because of what it is. It is always interesting to hear people who know what they are talking about discussing something in an accessible way. (It is for this reason I always recommend In Our Time to anyone who will listen to me.) What this screencast does is allow Jon to talk about something in a way that is interesting, visually attractive and, most importantly, dynamic. I've now subscribed to Jon's feed and intend to track down more screencasts.

As an educational tool, screencasting seems to me to have much more potential than podcasting. If you come across any other interesting examples, I'd be grateful if you let me know.

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