Recommended screencasting tools

ElearningI am currently cleaning out an email folder, and I came across an Extension discussion focusing on screencasting tools. A call went out looking for recommendations for screencasting tools that extension agents/educators use to develop subject matter educational materials for online use. Here is what was recommended:

You can can find more details in a spreadsheet that John Dorner compiled.

What tools are you using to support screencasting? Please share.

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Tool Review: Sizer

This will be my first tool review as part of Jane Hart’s 10 Tool Challenge. This tool is called Sizer.

Very simply, Sizer resizes a computer window to the dimensions that you previously specify. This is important if you are doing screencasts or screen captures, and you want all windows to be the same size.

Yesterday, I wrote a little bit about the importance of setting your screen for 16:9 dimensions. 16:9 is the video size that YouTube prefers.

Sizer is a Windows program and can be downloaded from Once you install the program and run it, it will sit in your toolbar.

Sizer in toolbar
Sizer in toolbar

Configure Sizer

If you have specific screen sizes that you wish to use, you will want to configure those dimensions into Sizer before using it. Adding dimensions is pretty straight forward, here are the steps.

1. Right click on the Sizer icon in the tool bar.

2. Select Configure Sizer…

Configure Sizer
Configure Sizer

3. Click on the Add button, select the new configuration and edit its parameters.

Sizer Configuration Window
Sizer Configuration Window

In this example, I will set the window to 200X300.

Sizer Configuration Window
Sizer Configuration Window

You have a number of options to set, and the Sizer User Guide can better explain the settings.

4. Once new configuration has been added, close the window by selecting the OK button.

You are now ready to use Sizer. If you want to set a screen size for screencasting, you will want to create a dimension for 960X540.

Using Sizer

Sizer is tremendously easy to use. First, it must be running, and this can be verified by an icon in the tool bar. Here are the steps:

1. Open a program, and right click on the lower right corner of the program when the cursor changes to a double arrow. Basically, you are in a condition to resize your window manually.

Resizing a window
Resizing a window

2. Select your desired dimensions.

Select Sizer Dimensions
Select Sizer Dimensions

The window will now resize to the dimensions that you have chosen, and you can begin your screencast or image capture. Important note: the program itself must allow for the specific dimensions. In the example above, the program Skitch will not allow for resizing to 200X300.

If you are looking for consistency, this is a nice program to add to your arsenal. Does anyone know about a good resizing tool for Macs?

This tool will do wonders for my screencasting in the future. I hope it is useful for you.


Learning how to capture your screen

Jeff Miller talks about screen capturing
Jeff Miller talks about screen capturing

Jeff Miller starts day four of the University of Wyoming Technology Bootcamp with a presentation on Video Production and screen capture.

Video production and screen capture have much in common in terms of their ability to engage students. What advantages do they present? Ho might they be used? What options are there for faculty who are interested?

Jeff started out his presentation talking about the history of video production for Outreach. Video production is about recorded of moving images; it can be called screen capture, web cam, streaming video, animation, etc. He showed off a quick video of a screencast showing how to embed a YouTube video into an eCompanion course shell.

Video resources can be found everywhere, and can be used in your courses.

Jeff shared a couple of great quotes talking about the importance of video in instruction. One of the the quotes was from 1941. Video is visual, it has narrative, portable, flexible, and conserve classroom time.

Jeff recommend keeping video short and modular so that you add and delete videos based on your needs. By flipping instruction, your presentations will be shorter and gives you more time in the classroom for interaction. Some things can be explained better with video. Videos can be enhanced with panning, zooming, and mark up. Great tool for showing a process, and emailing to a student.

With a Web cam, you can connect with your students, record the session, and share it back out. Lecture capture is another great idea for using video capture. Lesson feedback, students projects, and other possibilities are great use of video.

At one time, you needed others to help create a video. It is now easy enough to do yourself.

For the University of Wyoming, we have some WyoCast rooms to capture lectures. Students use lecture captures as a review, it is very useful for athletes who may miss class. You can also use a video recorder to capture your course.

It is possible to screen films through Swank at a cost.

Final word, video is easy and useful.

Looking at feedback strategies on written work

This next session from the University of Wyoming Technology Bootcamp is on feedback strategies for written work presented by Rick Fisher, Meg Van Baalen-Wood, Tricia Giovacco-Johnson, and Kaijsa Calkins.

This session will explore approaches to responding to written work and other individual and collaborative assignments. The panel will talk through and illustrate their audio (podcasting), video (Camtasia/Jing), and written (MS Word) forms of feedback to students. We will also discuss our efforts to use comments as part of a larger feedback loop to promote ongoing student learning.

Meg is demonstrating adding comments to a document. She uses critical questions to analyze student work rather than act as an editor. She discussed the track changes feature in MS Word and the limitations. Instead, she prefers the commenting feature. She ties her comments to a grading rubric. Meg maintains a bank of comments that she reuses when responding to students. She uses color to call attention to a specific parts of a document by highlighting. When starting a course, she instructs students on how to read her comments. Meg now takes in all assignments electronically.

Using color to identify needed changes
Using color to identify needed changes

Rick highlights text both online and in the face-to-face classrooms. He uses color to code to show students where they can improve their writing. He has a color key to help students identify what changes they need to make. He also uses colors in a rubric, e.g, stoplight colors. Rick does not specifically identify the change, but to self-identify writing issues. Rick also showed the compare feature in MS Word. Compare allows you to show two documents side beside to see the differences. This allows an instructor to see where students are making changes from one version to another. Rick finds that using colors makes him more responsible to his rubric.

Kaijsa focuses on a new approach, she uses her iPad to make written comments on a document. She saves document as a PDF, and saves it to iPad. She opens document in Notability, and writes on the document with a stylist. Notability also allows for comments. Side note: presentations are being served from Dropbox. Notability can organize documents in folders. Kaijsa pulls document from Dropbox. You can also mark up documents on your computer.

Tricia uses Camtasia to comment on student documents. She uploads the videos to Youtube. Tricia saw quality of student work improve because students could review videos. Tricia also uses screencasting, to highlight discussions from the week before and continues the discussion. These video highlights helped students for refocusing on discussions.

Rick points out that Jing is free and the video tops out at 5 minutes.  Kaisja uses screencasting to show library processes. It is easier to show than tell. Meg has experimented with screencasting and podcasting. She uses it more for earlier assignments. Meg feels that audio alone can be frustrating, images and or video helps learning.

Group asking questions about captioning, and transcription options. Good questions about Camtasia and other screencasting options. Discussing FERPA concerns and making videos private between students and instructors.