A screencast is a digital recording (movie) of a computer screen output. The result replicates what a user would see as they operate a computer. Screencasts are useful for demonstrating how software works.
Create your own How-To-Videos with screencast technology. You can create tutorials or provide video-based instruction for your students.
Screencast-O-Matic is a free online screen recorder with video and one-click recording using your web browser on Windows, Mac, or Linux. There is no software to install and you can share or download your finished video. Free accounts can make screencasts/movies up to 15 minutes in length. The upgrade to Pro ($9.00/yr) is a good idea if you want to create longer screencasts/movies. Take a look a their Introductory video.
There are many more good products available for creating screencasts. Here is a site that presents 12 tools for creating screencasts. For a comparison of currently available screencasting tools, visit Wikipedia/screencast.
Are you wondering which product is best for you and how to get started?
Web-based applications can be very convenient as well as easy to use. They offer the most in flexibility, but sometimes the trade-off is that you are saddled with limitations. For example, you might be restricted creating screencasts that are no longer than 10-15 minutes. Or, perhaps there are data storage limitations, or limited ability to share or distribute content.
It is therefore a good idea to try out the product to see if it will meet your current and future needs. Each program will offer similar and unique functions that will help you to determine if it will meet your needs.
When creating screencasts for your students, consider creating short, sequential movies rather than one long one. Consider "chunking" or perhaps "chapters" for presenting content. Shorter movies are easier to share. They can be downloaded or streamed quickly, viewed on computers as well as mobile devices, and since they are small elements, they can be viewed by the student at various times and more easily reviewed.
To get started with screencasting, you should have a web camera (webcam) and a microphone if you computer does not have these built in. Screencasting/video recording can be processor and memory intensive so selecting the right computer can save you additional time creating your videos. Once you have created your video, you will need a way to allow others to view it. Some options include:
upload the video into your current Learning Management System (i.e., Blackboard, WebCT) for use in your class by your students. upload to your personal or educational server and provide a hyperlink to your students. upload or store your video using the screencast-o-matic (screencast.com), or to your Camtasia Relay account (free to all faculty at CSU). Each of these sites will provide a hyperlink to your video that you can disseminate among your students. If you find yourself doing a lot of screencasts, or, you want to expand and create more professional looking products, you might want to consider buying a full-featured screen recording application such as Camtasia or Screencast-O-Matic.