What is a Screencast?
One of the most efficient ways to explain a computer process or software is through screencasting. The term “screencast” refers to a scenario when the actions on a user’s computer screen are captured. Typically, a screenshot describes a static picture of a computer screen. Similarly, a screencast is a video that captures what happens on a computer screen over a span of time, and audio is usually part of a screencast as well. The audio can take the form of a narrative voiceover from the presenter, background audio or sound from the application being demonstrated.
Screencasts are usually viewed as a stream over the Internet and can be created in a variety of formats. Screencasts provide a video of what is being discussed, and this medium helps to make online content more personal. The distribution of screencasts is easily accomplished through Web pages, email, IM and blogs.
Screencasting in Education
E-learning and distance education has quickly embraced screencasting. Screencasts offer several advantages for e-learning. First, faculty members can present learning resources to students that can be accessed anytime from any location that has access to the Web. Second, students can view screencasts at their own pace, which facilitates self-directed learning. Third, this technology helps promote a sense of engagement between students and teachers.
Screencasts can also help enhance evaluations of student work. Teachers can use a screencast to describe why certain errors are being marked and give suggestions. Faculty members can also use this technology for remediation. For example, if several math students had an issue on a specific problem, then the teacher could demonstrate how to work the problem through a screencast.
How Do You Make a Screencast?
In order to capture the activity on a computer screen, special software is often required, but new Web 2.0 technologies allow screencast to be recorded over the Web. Once software is installed or the Web 2.0 site is accessed, creating a screencast is as easy as selecting the “record” button and speaking in a microphone connected to the computer. Once users select “record,” all the actions taking place on the screen are captured and the audio is synced with these actions.
After a recording session is over, many software applications allow users to edit the resulting video. In addition, some screencasting software permits additional graphics and text to be added during the editing phase. For example, closed captioning could be added to the screencast, which would help with accessibility. Once in the production phase, screencast can usually be saved in a variety of formats (e.g., flv, mpg or mp4).
How Do You Watch a Screencast?
Viewing a screencast is easy. The only requirement is that the appropriate viewer should be installed on a computer to watch the format in question. Because most screencasts are viewed on the Web, basic media players and a Web browser are all that is needed. Windows Media Player, Flash and QuickTime are probably the most popular formats for screencasts. While videos can be streamed over the Web, users can also download videos and watch them at their convenience. For example, users could view a downloaded video on a portable device such as a mobile phone or iTouch.
Example of a Screencasting Technology
There are many free software tools that allow users to create screencasts. Screenr is an example of a Web 2.0 technology that facilitates the screen capture without the need for software, and Jing is an example of a free software that is downloaded to a local machine.
For this assignment, I chose to use Jing to produce a video. Jing is a free software download that is offered by TechSmith, which also owns Camtasia (a more robust screen capture software that cost money). Jing allows users to take a picture of the computer screen, record video of the screen and instantly share the captured content. Once Jing is downloaded and installed a small, transparent icon stays on the perimeter of the screen.
In order to make a capture, users simply select the icon, draw the size of the capture area and select “Capture an Image” or “Capture a Video.” If video is chosen, then users can speak into a microphone connected to the computer while the capture is taking place. The free version of Jing captures video in a flash format (i.e., swf), but for $15 a year users can upgrade to pro, which allows users to record videos in an mp4 format.
Jing can be shared in a variety of ways. When users download Jing, they are automatically given free space on TechSmith’s server, and videos can be stored on this server, which is called screencast.com (this site gives users 2 GB of free storage space). Videos can be uploaded to screencast.com and this link can be sent to friends. Videos can be saved as a file or uploaded to a FTP server to be put on a Website. Jing videos can also be sent to Twitter. Below is a video that I made with Jing on a Web 2.0 technology called Planning Center Online:
Does Screencasting Have Important Implications?
One major implication of screencasting is that students can watch a lesson anytime, anywhere. In addition, students have complete control of the lesson, which means they can repeat material or skip ahead as needed. Teachers have the ability to craft concise and clear lessons because each screencast can be edited. Students can also use screencasting in a variety of ways, from creating an electronic portfolio to offering feedback on assignments.
Disadvantages of Screencasting?
Effective screencasts do require an eye for production and editing does take time. In addition, not all students learn well from video, which stems from their preferred learning style. Perhaps the biggest issue with screencasting is that it is not interactive.
Advantages of Screencasting?
Screencasting offers a great deal of accessibility to students with aural impairments and students that have a hard time traveling. In addition, students that miss class or a lesson could view a lesson via a screencast. Screencast also provide a lesson that is stable and consistent. This might be an important feature for those that routinely train workers on similar computer-based tasks. Screencasts are easy to make, and this tool offers teachers another way to communicate content to students.