Use of Screen Capture Technology To Record Student Presentations Promotes Active Learning in a Large Classroom

Kathryn Fryxell
Patricia Goodman-Mamula
Martin Wolf
Rebecca Merica

We have introduced student presentations into our curriculum using a screen capture technology, Camtasia Relay, in order to promote active learning in an undergraduate Microbiology class of 240 students.  The use of this software was a novel approach to record student presentations since the majority of our students reported never having used screen capture technology.  We challenged teams of four students to create an educational presentation on a specific topic in Microbiology knowing that their video may be chosen for viewing during class time.  Since our course enrollment is large, it is logistically difficult to accommodate student presentations as a group activity.  Screen capture technology enabled us to efficiently record and evaluate numerous group projects with the goal of selecting several representative videos as teaching tools.  A majority of students reported that they were hopeful their presentation would be selected and shown in class.  We believe this led to a sense of ownership, which improved the quality of the projects.  Working in small groups, students engaged in active learning by using skills necessary for teamwork, communication, organization and technology.

In order to explore recording options, we contacted the Office of Information Technology (OIT) at the University of Minnesota, and found that the screen capture software, Camtasia Relay, was available to faculty and staff for teaching purposes.  Camtasia Relay allows for audio capture synchronized to a PowerPoint presentation.  We adopted this technology and had student groups use it to produce short educational digital presentations.

Since most of our students are pre-allied health professionals, we used this project to increase their knowledge of clinically relevant microorganisms and associated disease states.  The students researched information on a given topic and used their basic knowledge of Microbiology to create a Camtasia Relay presentation.  The instructors guided the students through the process of creating their videos, and a well-designed rubric defined the criteria for evaluation and scoring of the projects.

A significant challenge that we faced teaching a large class was the logistics of having small student groups create presentations.  The laboratory component of the course was an ideal environment for this project since students work in small groups of four to conduct laboratory exercises.  These same small groups were given a screen capture project to complete.  Students were enrolled in one of three laboratory sessions, each consisting of approximately eighty students.  Fifteen different microorganisms and associated disease states were assigned as topics.  Each topic was worked on by four different small groups, which totaled sixty presentations.

Student groups were assigned a date to record their project in a quiet room using the instructor’s computer.  The groups were encouraged to have a script prepared and rehearsed for the audio portion of the presentation as well as having a completed PowerPoint file.  Using a high quality microphone, students narrated their short presentations, which were five to seven minutes in length.  The recording sessions involved all group members, with individual members reading portions of the script during the screen capture by Camtasia Relay.

Projects were evaluated by a panel of instructors and graded based on adherence to the rubric guidelines.  One video from each of the fifteen topics was chosen by instructor consensus and shown during each laboratory session.  The videos stimulated group discussions, which were accompanied by a worksheet or quiz.  By showing student presentations, we accomplished one of our teaching goals, which is to reinforce key Microbiology concepts.  Many students reported that their understanding of clinically relevant microorganisms was enhanced upon completion of this project.  Screen capture technology, therefore, has been a natural fit as a way to record, evaluate, and present student projects in a large class.  

We would advise instructors interested in conducting this type of activity to choose one reliable recording method.  Initially, we gave students the option to record their project either in-class using Camtasia Relay, or on their own using a similar technology of their choice.  Our intention was to provide not only flexibility to the students, but to also reduce in-class recording time.  Many students reported that they preferred to record with the help of an instructor.  This surprised us since we assumed most students would be familiar with various recording software.  We also did not save time by having students record their presentations outside of class.  Handling these separate projects required a significant amount of additional effort to process them.  The Camtasia Relay software, provided by OIT, had its own set of limitations with recording, editing and uploading.  An updated version of this software will soon be available for use, which we hope will resolve most of these issues.  In the future, we will record all student presentations using a single type of screen capture technology installed on the instructor’s computer.

While managing the technical challenges of this project, we were surprised to discover an advantage to having students meet with an instructor to record their projects in-class.  Students benefited by having a chance to interact directly with the instructor.  Since they had researched a topic, they were confident in discussing their assignment with the instructor. This provided an unforeseen opportunity for conversations with the students about an infectious disease and its importance in human health.  We plan to dedicate more time to future recording sessions since students seemed to benefit from this interaction with the instructor.

We also advise instructors to provide an effective grading rubric, which clarifies project expectations and is essential to the success of student performance.   When asked to comment on the usefulness of our grading rubric, students gave it high marks for its clear and well-defined instructions.  We were pleased that most of the presentations were of high quality and that students had very few questions concerning the assignment.   We attributed this to the completeness of the grading rubric.  We plan to modify the rubric to include additional suggestions on how to create a video that not only meets certain criteria, but also is educational, insightful and interesting.  We will remind students to direct their presentations to their target audience, their classmates, rather than the instructors.

We will continue to use screen capture technology to record small group presentations in order to promote active learning in our large class.  Some future goals of this effort are to streamline the recording process and to interact more with the students during the preparation and recording of their presentations.  Although, at present the incorporation of technology in the classroom is time consuming and not without pitfalls, if used appropriately, it can greatly enhance the student’s learning experience.  We believe that the future for technology in the classroom is bright, and we plan to explore and incorporate various technologies into our curriculum.

Link 1:  "Pelvic inflammatory disease caused by *Chlamydia trachomatis*"

Link 2:  "*Neisseria meningitidis*"

Grading Rubric for Student Presentations Spring 2012:
You will work in a small group to create a captured presentation that describes a disease caused by a microbial pathogen.  Your group project will consist of Powerpoint slides that are captured along with narration.

You may choose to create an iMovie on your own computer, or you may sign up for a time to record your presentation using Camtasia software on the instructor’s computer.

There are 20 points possible for this project, and each group member will receive the same number of points.  Presentations that best depict a topic will be posted on the Moodle site and viewed by all students.  Several in-lab pop quiz questions will be based on these selected presentations.


(5 points)

  • Presentation includes title of project and names of team members.
  • Team provides an accurate explanation of key concepts.
  • Reference material, such as data or graphs, is correctly interpreted.
  • Legitimate references are cited on Powerpoint slides.
  • Terms are spelled correctly.


(5 points)

Team covers all major aspects of the following key concepts:

  • Description of the disease and of the bacterial pathogen
  • Risk factors for acquiring the disease
  • Common scenario for infection (or presentation of case study)
  • Current methods for control and prevention of the disease
  • Future directions for control and prevention of the disease


(5 points)

  • Team presents information in a logical and interesting sequence that can be easily followed and understood.
  • Content flows in a coherent manner that ties together key concepts.
  • Presentation reflects group’s effort to work together.
  • Project meets time requirement of 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Team comes prepared to recording session with presentation on a flash drive and a printed copy of script.


(5 points)

  • Team’s graphics depict and explain written and verbal communications.
  • Speaker’s voice is poised, articulate and confident.
  • Speaker has the proper volume and a steady rate.
  • Presentation has been rehearsed by all members and flows smoothly.
  • All terms are pronounced properly.


Kathryn Fryxell <>
Kathryn Fryxell, Ph.D., a Teaching Specialist in the Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Minnesota, co-instructs the laboratory for General Microbiology VBS 2032. She facilitated this screen capture project and plans to promote similar technologies for teaching this large undergraduate course.
Patricia Goodman-Mamula <>
Patricia Goodman-Mamula, PhD. is currently an instructor and laboratory coordinator for the Microbiology teaching laboratory (VBS 2032) at the University of Minnesota. She was an active participant in the implementation of this project and plans to continue support of this project in the future.
Martin Wolf <>
Martin Wolf, Ph.D. – Instructor for General Microbiology VBS 2032. Presentation review and data analysis.
Rebecca Merica <>
Rebecca Merica, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor in Microbiology in the Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Minnesota. She teaches both the lecture and laboratory components of General Microbiology VBS 2032 and is actively involved in moving the course into a "hybrid" on-line format.