Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Creative screencasting

A screencast is a recording of your computer screen to which you add an explanation by voice- combining it into a video. A screencast is a classical way of explaining computer programs and software. You might for instance explain via a screencast how to start a twitter account. But there are a lot more creative ways you can use screencasts. For instance you might show a presentation on your screen, a prezi or powerpoint. A nice way as a trainer or teacher to put up an explanation or presentation online. Ideal if you want to flip your classroom or training room. Here's an example of a presentation by myself. It's in Dutch, and the content doesn't matter, but then you get an idea of how it might look like.

Can I make a screencast?!
A screencast may sound rather technical and not so easy to do. Recently though, I gave a half day workshop whereby the participants went home with their first screencast. Proud of themselves and I was also rather proud of them- after half a day! It is good to distinguish between very professional screencasts and quick screencasts on the fly (and everything in between). A professional screencast may be outsourced and may include editing etc. with paid software programs. However, it is also possible to make a screencast with free or lowcost software and without editing. If you make sure you don't need to edit, it costs a lot less time to produce a screencast. Ofcourse the choice for professional or on-the-fly will depend on the context. Is it for an elearning module which will be widely used over the years or an input for a training for a group of 15 professionals? I will explain the latter in this blogpost.

Some creative ways of using screencasts. 
Besides the classical use of screencasts to explain the use of a computer program you can think of other ways to use screencasts: 
  • Show people how to use an online platform or wiki for instance (a so-called 'walk through').
  • Share a presentation on your screen (prezi or powerpoint) and provide an explanation. This is a way to get people into the topic and make them think before a meeting (think flipped classroom like the khan academy).
  • Make a visual storyline. Use slides or photo's to build a story. In most screencasting software this is a technical option too (not sure if you would still call it officially a screencast but never mind the name...
  • Record a webinar from you screen so that people don't only listen to an audio recording but can watch the whole webinar.
  • Make a slidecast on slideshare.net by adding an audio file to your powerpoint presentation.
  • Organise an interview with an expert via Skype and record this including the webcam images.
Make your own screencast on the fly
What is a good screencast? Here's the worst screencast ever..(self-announced by the way) :
Some of the mistakes are:
  • Background noise
  • Uninterested, level voic
  • No clear storyline
  • You have no clue what the screencast is about
To avoid all this you should give a clear introduction, make sure you have a storyline and talk clearly but also engagingly. So use your voice! It helps if you make a storyboard using separate small cards. On every card you write down in keywords what you would like to narrate and what you would like to show as images. My experience is that you can never record it well in one session, you need at least 3-4 takes. With every take you know your storyline better. Don't forget that if you have a screencast of 5 minutes, this is still only roughly 20 minutes work.

Screencasting software
There are many different screencast recording programs. Here's a good comparison on wikipedia. However, if you are new to screencasting this would probably not make any sense to you....Hence I give you some starters. You should realize that there is a difference between screencasts with Picture in Picture (PIP) whereby you see the person talking in the screen (like the one above), and others whereby you don't see the presentor. Another difference is between software you'd have to download and install and software you can use 'in the cloud', through your browser. Apart from recording software, you might also use editing software and ofcourse you need a place to upload and show your screencast. Lastly there is special software for recording skype calls.

Below you will find a table to give you some suggestions.

Function Software
Recording screencasts  Screenr (free and paid versions) Jing (free and paid versions), Screencast-o-matic (free and paid versions), Screenflow (for mac, 99 dollar), Camtasia (available for mac and windows roughly 100 euros), Windows media encoder.
Editing screencasts Windows Moviemaker, imovie (voor mac). Adobe captivate. AVID studio Some screencasting recording software (like screenflow) also offers opportunities to edit. 
Publicizing screencasts Video websites like Youtube, Vimeo and blip.tv. Some screencasting sites like screencast-o-matic offer the option to publicize your screencasts too.
Recording skype calls Callrecorder (paid version 20 dollar, for mac), Evoca (mac, paid versions), Pamela for Skype (free version till 15 minutes), MP3 skype recorder (free), IMcapture, the levelator (paid version, roughly 50 dollar) More about skype recording on this wiki.

No comments: