Friday, March 30, 2012

Technology Spotlight: Screencast-o-matic

Screencasts or “digital recording of computer screen output” that often contain audio narration can be powerful teaching tools and there are many tools available that can be used to create screencasts.  A great tool to quickly create short screencasts is Screen-cast-o-matic.  Screen-cast-o-matic  is a free, easy to use, online screen recording program.  Features of the free version include:
  • a maximum recording time of 15 minutes per screen recording,
  • free web hosting for screen recordings on Screen-cast-o-matic,
  • the ability to record from a web camera,
  • the ability to publish screen recordings directly to YouTube,
  • and the ability to save screen recordings as video files (MP4, AVI or FLV).
To get started Screen-cast-o-matic, click the blue “Start Recording” button.  The screen recording program will open up on your screen.  Drag or resize the box to set the recording area.  Only the area of your computer screen inside the box will be captured.  You can place this box over Web pages, Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, ANGEL, or other software programs.  Once you are ready to record, click the “Record” button.  You can pause your recordings if you need to switch programs.  When you are done, click the “Done” button.  At that point, you can decide if you want to save your recording as a video file or publish your recording on Screen-cast-o-matic or YouTube.  When downloading (publish to video file) a fullscreen screencast, make sure to rescale the width of the screencast size (600 px is a good size).  For more information, view this quick demo on using Screen-cast-o-matic.  If you would like to host your screen recordings on Screen-cast-o-matic, you will need to create an account.  To register for an account, just enter in your email address and a password and click “Register”.
Tips when creating a screen recording:
  • Write out a script of your screen recording.  The script will be helpful when creating the screen recording but can also be used as a transcript or for captioning to help make your screen recording accessible.
  • Chunk longer lectures into shorter presentations to allow students to process the concepts.
  • Use a headset microphone for best audio quality and set your microphone volume before starting.
  • Record in a location with minimal noise distractions.  You might also want to put a sign up on your door so you won’t be interrupted.
Screencasts can be used to:
  • Produce lessons that students can watch anywhere at any time
  • Allow students to feel more connected to their instructors in an online class
  • Share information with students through video and audio
  • Demonstrate how to use specific software programs or create tutorials and how-tos
  • Perform regular and standardized training
  • Narrate PowerPoint mini-lectures
  • Explain difficult concepts or illustrate confusing tasks
  • Provide explanations for solutions to problems
  • Provide feedback to students on assignments
  • Walk students through discipline specific Web sites
  • Orient students to an online course
Examples of screencasts created with
Additional resources on screencasts:
If you are interested in learning more about the benefits of screencasts in your teaching or would like to learn more about using Screen-cast-o-matic, please feel free to contact Instructional Technology and Design at itd@northshore.edu.

• Do you think screencasts have potential as a learning/teaching tool?
• Have you used screencasts in your teaching? If so, in what ways?  If not, do you see any uses for screencasts in your teaching and how might you use them? 

• Have you used Screen-cast-o-matic or another tool before?  What have been your experiences in using those tools?