Week 9: Screencast-o-Matic

A screencast is a digital video recording of a your computer screen that often includes audio narration. Screencast-o-Matic is one of the best free screencasting tools available right now.

Screencast-o-Matic Options

You have a few options when using Screencast-o-Matic. You can simply hit the giant Start Recording button and begin right away (it may require a Java update). Or, you can download and install the Screencast-o-Matic app to use anytime. If you think you'll make multiple screencasts, I suggest downloading and installing the application.

You can also choose to use the free version or the Pro version. The free version is, well, free, and it limits you to 15 minutes of video time and adds a small "Screencast-o-Matic" watermark in the lower left corner of the video. The Pro version allows you to create up to 2 hour long screencasts and unlocks a LOT more features. The Pro version is $15 a year, which is really quite reasonable.

If you're more of a "let me watch this YouTube video and I'll be fine" kind of person, then this video is for you! It walks you through the entire process.

Classroom Applications

  • Record your lesson for students who were absent or might benefit from hearing it again. Students can access it anytime, anywhere.
  • Record classroom procedures and answer common questions - post it to your class webpage or blog.
  • Are you going to be out at a meeting or conference? Pre-record your lesson and let the substitute play it in class.
  • Let students record their own presentations and narration to post online or share with other classes.

Screencasting Tips

  • You can use the built-in microphone on a laptop, but you will get much better quality if you use an external headset-microphone.
  • Noise cancelling mics are great, but it's also good to have a quiet room!
  • If you are using software that allows edits, then don't stop everytime you make a mistake, cough, or the phone rings. Just keep going and edit out the "mistakes."
  • Be patient. It will take a while to get things set up and it may take a while for the video to "render" or fully upload.
  • For longer recordings, you may want to write a script or at least bullet points. It will help you stay on subject.
  • Be prepared to hear yourself speak ... you probably won't like it at first, and you may be shocked at the "umms" and "ahhs."
  • Practice, Practice, Practice ... Practice makes perfect.

Additional screencast tools you might like ...

  • Jing - I have discussed the gloriousness of Jing way back on Day 2 of 21 Techy Tools for Teachers, because it's my favorite Screenshot tool! Jing can record up to 5 minutes of video screencast that can be shared via social media, or embedded on a blog or website. Jing does require a download, but it's well worth it!
  • Lync - if you already have a Lync account (if you're in our district, you DO!), you can easily record a Lync meeting and share it with others.
  • Screenr - Instant Screencasts ... just click Record! This option does not require a download or even an account! The recording (up to 5 minutes) will play back on any device - PC, Mac, or even on an iPhone!
  • SnagIt - SnagIt is similar to Jing (and created by the same great folks over at TechSmith), but it has more features and can make longer videos. SnagIt is not free, but it's reasonably priced ($29.95 per license, education pricing.) SnagIt is a very powerful screenshot editing tool too!
  • Camtasia Studio - this is a very powerful screencast recorder and editor tool. I use it all the time, but it's pricey ($179 per license, education pricing) and has a bit of a learning curve to it.

Although these tools are all designed to work with your PC, there are several great free (and nearly-free) screen recording tools available for your iPad too. Screenchomp, Show Me, Educreations, Knowmia, and Explain Everything ($2.99) are fantastic!

What do you think?

Have you ever created a screencast?

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