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Screencasting is a way by which one can capture and share what is happening on a computer screen in order to illustrate concepts and share knowledge in an online, and often asynchronous environment. Examples of screencasts are the show and tell videos available via the FAQs. TechSmith Relay (formerly Camtasia Relay) is UMBC’s institutionally licensed solution for screencasting.

Best Practices

  • Why are you interested in using screencasting? Start with your course goals and lesson objectives in mind.

  • Some faculty are already using screencasting for course Blackboard orientations, to create how to videos, and illustrate “evergreen” concepts that remain relevant across time.

  • If you anticipate explaining something more than one or two times then make a video.

  • Screeencasting is not lecture capturing: Keep it short. Screencasts should be 4-5 minutes long, with a maximum video length of 10-15 minutes. Users get distracted. At home and on the go, phones ring, dogs bark, babies cry. Short, crisp lectures on discrete points can be watched multiple times and support knowledge transfer and competency development.

  • If you have extended lecture content, consider how it might be chunked into more digestible segments.

  • Scripts can be shared as transcriptions for students with special needs.
  • Screencasts do not need to be perfect; traditional lectures include “ohs” and “umms.” If you have a coughing fit or inadvertently say the wrong side won a war you can recapture the cast. Fortunately, since the videos are only 10-15 minutes at most, you won’t waste an exorbitant amount of time redoing a video. In fact, many instructors re-record their videos on a semester or annual basis to keep content fresh and relevant.

  • Record in a quiet location since even cheap microphones pick up nearby noises. Most office areas have a lot of background noise that you may or may not notice. Take a second and listen. What do you hear? You can probably hear the fan of your computer, the air from the air vents, people talking, and other noises. When you record, minimize these noises since they will be picked up by your microphone and be included in the recording.

  • Although DoIT offers periodic Digital Storytelling workshops, screencasts are not meant to involve editing.

  • Consider user mobility. For example, if students are accessing course content from an iPhone then they will not be able to view Flash videos (e.g., Jing).

  • How do you know knowledge transfer is occurring as you planned in your objectives? Consider how you are going to assess students knowledge or skills. Content, including screencasts, can be locked using Adaptive Release based upon student assessment outcomes (e.g., Blackboard quizzes).

  • TechSmithRelay will record anything on your screen. To ensure you get the best looking videos, clean up your browser and desktop by closing or removing all non-essential applications, browser toolbars, and desktop icons. Also, a plain background on your desktop is better than a busy wallpaper image. Keep in mind that a cluttered work space can draw attention away from what you are actually trying to show.


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