Show! Don't Tell!
Whether you're creating short videos to explain specific software skills, getting your students to document their learning by capturing their onscreen actions, or building a lesson library aimed at flipping your classroom, knowing how to create a screencast by recording what happens on your screen is a truly useful skill for any teacher to have. Screencasting is a wonderful multimodal activity that greatly improves a presenter's ability to clearly, simply and quickly explain an idea.
In this hands-on session we will look at the various skills involved in producing an effective screencast, and investigate some of the tools for creating your own. During this session you will make your own short screencast on a topic of your choice using free screencasting tools.
Prepare your computer...
Clean up the desktop, remove distracting wallpaper
Decide what you want to capture and resize windows if necessary
Close unnecessary windows
Prepare the screens, examples and files you want to use
Turn off distractions such as message popups, notifications, etc
Prepare your physical environment...
Find a quiet spot to record
Avoid rustling papers, squeaking chairs, barking dogs, passing traffic, etc
Use a good desktop microphone, or headset/mic set if possible
If you include video of yourself, check for good lighting, framing, etc. Avoid backlighting!
Design the lesson you plan to give! How will you take your audience from not knowing to knowing?
Think about what you will say and how you will say it. Keep it short, sharp and to the point
Your lesson should be as long as it needs to be, but no longer!
Use a script if you feel you need one
Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse!
Speak clearly and articulate your words
Find a speech rate that works for you, not too fast, but not too slow
Describe what you're doing on screen and match your descriptions to your actions
Keep your mouse still unless you're actually doing something with it
Evaluate your recording
Watch your screencast back and evaluate your effort. if you think you can do better, do it again
Be prepared to do a couple of takes! It's rare to get it right first go
The real test: Does it hold your attention? Would YOU watch it?
How can you use this?
Ok, so you can screencast! Now how are you going to use this new skill?
Think about how you might use screencasting in YOUR classroom
Record a short 20-30 second video reflection (use the webcam) giving one example of how you might use screencasts with your students.
Screencastify is a great option for browser-based screencasting and an ideal starting point. It's a free Chrome extension that can be installed from the Chrome Web Store. Once installed, just launch from the Chrome tool bar.
Screencastify records whatever happens on your computer's screen, and can also capture your webcam if you choose. It's pretty simple to use!
There is a free version and a paid version of Screencastify. The main differences with the paid version are that you can record for longer, you get additional post-production options for cropping and trimming the video, you can export the audio and/or video to your computer, and the removal of the Screencastify watermark.
If you use it a lot, consider supporting the developer by buying it! Not only do you get some great extra features, you help support the future development of this tool.
Getting More Serious
http://www.techsmith.com/snagit.html (available for Windows and Mac)
Snagit is a fully fledged tool screen capturing tool you need to install on your computer. It has powerful options for annotating your captures, as well as basic editing tools for video captures. Snagit is not free, but has some good pricing options for educational institutions.
With Snagit, you can capture the full screen, just a window, just a menu, even the webcam. There are lots of options for annotating the captures, with boxes, lines, arrows, and dynamic numbering. The numbers are great if you want to show a sequence or order of something. Here's a (somewhat over-the-top) example...
Snagit can also do video screencasts as well. The big difference is that Snagit gives you an opportunity to do some simple editing of the video afterwards. Just select any parts of the video you don't want by dragging the green and red arrows and then cut out that section. It's much easier to get a more professional looking product when you can do simple edits.
Snagit has full Drive integration, and can also be configured to upload directly to a variety of other destinations, including Screencast.com, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, FTP, Email, Evernote and Camtasia. Overall, it offers a lot more features and options than Snagit for Chrome.
To trim a clip in Snagit, simply isolate the part you want to delete and click the Cut Button
http://www.techsmith.com/camtasia.html (available for Windows and Mac)
When you really want to get serious about video screencasting, Camtasia is THE tool to use. It offers a large number of recording and postproduction options. The Windows version is slightly more full featured than the Mac version but both are very good and will do retty much everything you need.
The big difference with Camtasia is the ability to not only edit the screen captured video but to add other video annotations, transition effects, overlays, etc. A key feature is being able to zoom and pan in the video in post production, allowing you to zoom into details like dialog boxes, menus, etc. This post production can be time consuming and tends to turn your screencast into a bit of a production rather than just a quick capture, however it is very powerful. It does tend to get easier the more you use, but it can be a little daunting at first.
See the video above for an example of what can be done with Camtasia, or my school YouTube channel for lots more examples. Actually, you see video screencasting everywhere these days with places like www.lynda.com. If you intend to start making screencasts, or getting your kids to make them, I suggest you watch lots of them first and identify the different presentations styles you like/don't like.
There are lots of other free and paid tools for screencasting that work pretty well too, including the simple but useful built-in tools in your operating system. I haven't tried them all, but if you like to explore and try new tools, Here are a few suggestions.
For the Mac
Shift-Cmd-3: Whole screen capture, save PNG to desktop
Shift-Ctrl-Cmd-3 Whole screen capture save to clipboard
Shift-Cmd-4: Partial screen capture using crosshairs to select, save PNG to desktop
Shift-Ctrl-Cmd-4: Partial screen capture using crosshairs to select, save PNG to clipboard
Screenflow: another nice screencasting tool from Telestream with some good postproduction options.
QuickTime Player: built right into the Mac, this app can also record screencasts
Debut - freeware screen recorder
Snipping Tool built into Windows 7 and Windows 8
CamStudio Open Source Recorder
Jing: another option from TechSmith
Dozens of freeware and paid screen capture tools, just search for [screen capture tool windows]
recordMyDesktop: Captures audio-video data of a Linux desktop session
Byzanz: Small and compact screencast creator
pyvnc2swf: Screen recording tool with Flash (SWF) output
xvidcap: Standards-based alternative to tools like Lotus ScreenCam
Istanbul: Desktop session recorder producing Ogg Theora video
Wink: Tutorial and presentation creation software
Screencastify - a Chrome extension for screencasting
Screencast-o-Matic: web based screen recorder
Screenr - another web based screen recorder
Loom - a nice simple screen recorder for ChromeOS
For Mobiles and tablets
Here's a collection of Screencasts that I made for my school colleagues - www.youtube.com/user/chrisbetcher
Good luck and have fun!