I am always doing quick little screencast videos for people to demonstrate how to do one thing or another on the computer and in the past I’ve used Jing (free) if the video was under 5 minutes and Camtasia ($99) if I wanted to do longer videos or a lot of post production.  Each software package has it’s pros and cons, especially if you are a Mac user because the software isn’t as full featured as it’s Windows partner.

Well the other day I discovered Screencast-o-matic and I AM IN LOVE! To be fair, I didn’t discover it.  I learned about it from the Communication department.  They are using it to record PowerPoint lectures that incorporate audio voiceover and a video insert for their online classes.

What I love:

  • It’s free
  • 15 minutes of free recording time
  • can record an entire screen or only a portion
  • can record audio
  • can also add a webcam insert of yourself in the bottom right corner
  • it places a yellow circle around the mouse so you don’t lose track of it
  • it places a target over every mouse click
  • it’s super easy to use
  • you can save it to your computer as an mp4, flv or avi
  • you can put it into Windows Movie Maker or iMovie to do additional customizations if required
  • can easily upload to YouTube or the Screencast-o-matic website for sharing
  • it’s fully online (java plugin required) and works in your browser so Mac users get all the same features that Windows users get
  • and remember, it’s free!

What I don’t love:

  • the webcam video doesn’t work on a Mac running OS 10.7 Lion.

If you think you want to try screencasting then Screencast-o-matic is the application for you.  Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Screencasting in Higher Education

Screencasting has tons of uses in education, especially in higher ed.   Debbie Jeter in the Math Department creates screencasts of complicated math problems.  She uses a tablet to write out the formulas and problems on the computer and records the screen with her voice as she explains how to work the problems.  This allows her students to review the problems outside of class with her expert instruction.  Burton Callicott and Jannette Finch in the Library used screencasting in their summer online courses to demonstrate how to do effective searches and online library research to help them accomplish research goals in their classes.  Screencasts can be used to create a PowerPoint presentation with a voiceover or with a video of the instructor teaching.    Anything that you want the students to view over and over again outside of class is a great candidate for a screencast.