This week is all about screencasts. A screencast is a movie of what’s on a computer screen. You can also think of it as a lot of screenshots all stuck together, sometimes with audio descriptions of what’s happening.
The term “screencast” is a pretty new word. It was coined on November 17, 2004 by Jon Udell, who chose it from names submitted for a contest (you can read the details in his blog posting for November 17, 2004 – funny to think that we could be talking about “screedios” instead of “screencasts” this week!)
Listen to this week’s podcast (or read the Week 8: Semester 2 podcast transcript) and then read the info below. If you have any questions about anything along the way, be sure to contact us – we’re happy to help!
How are people using screencasts?
People are using screencasts for many different things, including:
- Product demonstrations/reviews: What a great way to sell software! Show people how the software works while talking about how great it is. Or make your own review of a product by talking about the things you love and hate and showing them at the same time! Here’s an example that demonstrates CuePrompter.
- How-tos: Use a screencast to show people how to do something on the computer step-by-step. Here’s an example that shows How to Create a GMail account.
- Recording a presentation: Since screencasting captures the screen and audio, capture your PowerPoint (or Google Apps presentation) along with your comments. Here’s an example of a presentation about Treasure Hunts.
- Animated whiteboard: Using something as simple as paint, draw something to share. Here’s my happy example.
How can libraries use screencasts?
Well, I’m sure the list above has given you some ideas about how libraries could use screencasts, but here are a few thoughts:
- Quick tutorials about how to do a specific thing in a database, online catalog, or library website.
- Product “demonstrations” of different databases — why would patrons use it? What’s available in that database?
- Step-by-step “how tos” for common questions patrons ask about software they’re using in the library, like Word or Excel.
- Recordings of sessions staff present about applications, searching, etc.
…and here are a couple of examples:
- Central Michigan University uses screencasts to explain their Off-Campus Library Services. See the section on “Choosing a database” under “Journals” for a good example.
- University of Calgary: Library Connection has a mix of screencasts and other types of online tutorials. The “Authenticating for remote database access” is an example of their screencasts.
You can find more examples at the Online Tutorials page of the Library Success Wiki.
How do you create a screencast?
In the olden days when the term “screencasting” was new, there only used to be a couple of tools available for this purpose, and they were quite expensive. But now, there are many tools for creating screencasts, including a few free tools you can try.
Two of these tools require you to install software on your computer. You don’t need them for this lesson, but they might be something you’ll want to explore if you want to create screencasts that require editing:
- Jing: This project from TechSmith (the company that makes Camtasia, a well-established screencasting product) is free right now, but the project will “eventually turn into something else” — I’m guessing that’s a paid service. Jing lets you create and upload to email, blogs, etc.
- Freescreencast.com: This service is also a community. When you upload your screencasts to their server, you agree to share them with the world. You can also save your screencasts to your computer and upload them somewhere else.
There is one tool, Screencast-o-Matic, which is free and doesn’t require a download. It doesn’t let you edit your screencast, but it’s a quick and easy way to try out screencasting. You’ll have a chance to play with it in the optional assignment for this week’s lesson.
Be sure to plan out what you want to say before you start. Making a script of what you are going to show and say is a good idea. It’ll make your recording go more smoothly and professionally.
Check out some of the screencasts in the examples above. Think about how you might use screencasting in your library, and write about it on your blog.
Try making a simple screencast with Screencast-O-Matic.
Screencast-O-Matic is pretty easy to use, but you can watch their How to create a screencast screencast for step-by-step instructions before you get started if you want. Here’s an outline of the steps you would do:
1. Figure out what you’re going to do in your screencast. Open the applications you want to use.
2. Go to Screencast-O-Matic.
3. Click the “Create” button. It will verify your Java version, and then give you a button to click to get started.
4. Create your screencast. Watch the How to create a screencast screencast for step-by-step instructions, if you need them.
5. Upload the screencast. You can create an account, or, if you prefer, you can use the account information that was included in the email reminder for this lesson.
6. Put a link to your new screencast in a posting on your Project Play blog.
Fun Extra: WikiHow
Are you looking for a diversion to pass the last month of this long winter? How about making a fire breathing dragon cake? Or make your family feel like they’re on a Caribbean cruise by making them a towel monkey? WikiHow is a site where you can learn how to do all sorts of things from other people…and if you know how to do something, you can contribute your knowledge, too! (Aren’t wikis just great?)Tags: freescreencast.com, jing, screencastomatic, screencasts, wikihow