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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Screencast Tools

I wrote earlier about a video creation PD day I helped facilitate. I love making videos and especially screencasts--a video of your computer screen. One of the classes I teach is mostly Microsoft Office, and I don't have a projector or presentation area in the computer lab, so I make screencasts of each assignment, walking students through the steps on my screen so they can see exactly what to do AND if students are absent, they have an easy resource to catch them up.

Anyway, back to screencasts. I recently had my Digital Media students complete an assignment making a screencast and re-researched the best tools for this assignment. There are many screencast tools out there, but the options and capabilities vary. I painstakingly researched a few to see how they compared. Although all are easy to use, finding out that the awesome video you just made is now publicly accessible, or won't work on certain devices is what makes technology frustrating sometimes.


Tool #1

Jing used to be my favorite tool for screen casting when I had the now discontinued pro version for $15. I still like it but it may have lost its place at the head of the class. Jing requires a download and screencasts are shared at Screencast.com and from there you can download, embed, and share with a link. The video is in SWF (Flash) format and is limited to 5 minutes. Jing is also a great tool for snipping and annotating an image from your computer such as this:



Tool #2


Screenr is a free web tool. Screenr gives you the embed code to your video, so you can place it on a blog or somewhere else (besides the Screenr site). Also, it allows you to download your file as an MP4. In Screenr, all of your videos become part of the public stream, so you do want to be careful with content and also with your screen name. Time limit is 5 minutes.

Tool #3


Screencast-o-matic is a free web tool with an optional download version. It also allows you to download your video, or post to YouTube, embed, and has a generous 15 minute recording time.  In the free version, you do have a "Screencast-o-matic" watermark stamped on your video. Screencast-o-matic will only let you store one video at a time. Videos are searchable by default but you can set these options when you upload. Screencast-o-matic does have a nice paid version for only $15/year.

Tool #4


CamStudio is another tool I found, and is a free download. Videos are recorded in your choice of AVI or SWF format. It is an easy tool to use and gives you your video for you to upload where and how you want--there is no online account component. I could not find a time limit but since you are not storing the video online, my assumption is that there is no time limit.

Tool #5

If your school has an interactive whiteboard program, you can investigate the options there. My school currently has SmartNotebook 11, and there is a screen recorder tool built in. You can use it anywhere on your computer, not just in SmartNotebook. One difference here is that unlike the other tools mentioned above with which you draw a selection box around only what you want to record, SmartNotebook 11 records your whole screen. These videos save as a WMA file. There is no time limit and no account needed but of course you need the software at your school.


There are many more tools out there, but these are the handful I investigated in depth. What is your favorite Screencast tool? Why? Share your thoughts!

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