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If you have ever watched a Khan Academy video, you’ve seen screencasting in action. Screencasting is becoming more and more popular in higher education, especially here at the Naval Postgraduate School. Screencasting allows you to capture your computer monitor as a movie that students can watch while they are studying. Some faculty members are using screencasting as a normal part of their distance learning courses, while other faculty members supplement their lectures with worked examples. Some faculty members are using screencasting techniques as part of their office hours for distance learning students.
We often get inquiries from faculty members on how to turn their computers into blackboards for use during screencasting. Once you have the right equipment, producing your first screencast can take as little as 30 minutes. There is a variety of options when making purchasing decisions. Below are our recommendations.
Equipment and Software
A writing table (like a Wacom) connects via USB/HDMI to your computer and serves as second (or third) monitor. You will need to install a driver for the Wacom tablet to work with your computer. Since it is an additional monitor, any software installed on your computer will work with the tablet.
We recommend a tablet that is a decent size (at least a 10-inch screen, more is better) and easy to use. Some of the cheaper models will also work but the reduced size and functions make them harder to use. The more expensive models will also work, but are not necessary. If you have a touch tablet, we suggest you disable touch while screencasting.
Most headphones will work perfectly for screencasting. We’ve created high quality audio files using the headphones that came with our personal phones. If you are going to purchase new headphones, look for noise-canceling features and a retractable microphone. Pro tip: Headphones marketed to Gamers are some of the best available.
This is really the best screen video capture software on the market unless you are willing to invest a lot of money. It is relatively easy to use and has built-in editing features.
Smoothdraw is a free software program, available for download online. It is the same program we use in the tutorial below. Sal Khan from Khan academy uses it too.
Once you have your equipment and software, you will need to invest a little bit of time in learning how to use everything together. Listed below are some resources we recommend if you want to learn on your own. Hands-on training in screencasting is a service CED3 offers to all faculty members. Email us today to set up an appointment.
In this series of 16 short videos, College Plus discusses best practices for screencasting, demonstrates tablet set up and guides you through using Smoothdraw and Camtasia.
Already have another iPad or Android tablet? Screenchomp is a recordable whiteboard application that allows you to screencast. While Screenchomp offers fewer features than using Smoothdraw and Camtasia together, it is easy to use and great for providing impromptu video instruction.
Have questions? Need help? Contact Dianna Beardslee and Lisa Spence at CED3InstrDesign@nps.edu.