Learning Fast With Screencasts

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Screencasts are an essential tool for a 1.1 school like BHS, where students and staff alike are expected to keep up with the constant updates of an ever-changing technological environment. But what is a “screencast”? Why, I’m glad you asked. A “screencast” is a digital recording of a computer screen output, also known as a video screen capture, often containing audio narration. Screencasts are often used to give online tutorials showing viewers their way around the newest programs and softwares.

Though they seem fairly complex, screencasts are relatively easy to make, provided a person has access to the pQuicktime2roper tools. Screencast-O-Matic, for example, is a free online screen recorder for PC that allows instant screen capture video sharing. The Mac equivalent of this program, QuickTime, similarly allows users to create screencasts with just the push of a button. In addition tools such as SmartClose can be used to kill all the software programs running on your desktop, in order to prevent any pop-ups/messages from interrupting the screencast. If you are recording with just one window, the Sizer utility can be used to ensure that the window fills the entire recorded space.

But that’s not all it takes to make a high quality screencast. Good screencasters make it seem like they just press record and start talking.  But that’s usually not the case.  It just looks and sounds that way. When you write a script, write concisely, but try to keep it sounding like it isn’t scripted. It may seem like it takes longer to script a screencast in advance, but the more prep work you do, the faster the actual production. And remember: practice makes perfect. To ensure that my own screencast will be of high quality, I plan on writing a script, reciting my lines aloud in the process in order to make sure that my language flows and does not sound too formal. I also plan to do several practice runs of my screencast to make sure that I am comfortable with the process. After that, with any luck, I should be ready to record.

Embedded above, you’ll find a screencast that I felt did an outstanding job of demonstrating the use of Revision History on Google Drive (Chris McQueen). Even without voiced narration, I felt that was a high quality screencast because the feature in question was explained properly, and in a very short span of time. Faint music and editing made the screencast fun and easy to follow. Stay tuned for my own screencast on the IOS 8’s new Safari upgrade.

 

-Michael Seleman

 

 

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