Screencasts are a great tool for teaching software use, demonstrating elearning production techniques, or showcasing website features. In a EMS1.com Everyday EMS Tips column I discussed 9 techniques for perfecting screencasts. These are the tips from the column plus some bonus material.
1. Cover just one idea per screencast. Don’t attempt to teach analysis of all cardiac arrhythmias in one screencast. Instead, discuss one arrhythmia per screencast. Do the same for any type of software use or protocol discussion.
2. Practice screen actions before recording. Open all of the application windows and browser tabs you will need for the screencast. Practice moving between applications as you will in the screencast.
3. Eliminate the clutter and noise. Close unneeded applications and browser tabs before starting the screencast. Resize the screen capture area to the most essential aspects needed for the screencast to avoid having large areas of white space. Also turn off phones, fans, and other devices that will add distracting noise to the screencast.
4. Outline or script the audio. I prefer to outline the narrative I will speak as I record my on-screen actions instead of writing a script. I think an outline gives me a more relaxed and natural tone. A script might be best if you need to follow an exact list of steps or criteria.
5. Start recording with the best image. A thumbnail image of the screencast will often display the first image frame in the video. Start recording on the final product of an instructional screencast or some other descriptive visual that will entice viewers to view the screencast.
6. Edit as you record. If the screen capture tool allows you to pause as you record, you can edit as you go. (Screenr users use ALT+D) This might mean switching between applications or pausing the recording as you enter your username and password so that those are not shown to the audience.
7. Determine the audience for the screencast. Many screencasts allow distribution through blogs and other social media channels. You even have the option to allow others to link to the screencast or embed the screencast in their own blog or Web site. Before publishing the final screencast, make sure you have selected the appropriate distribution properties.
8. Review your work. Make sure you covered all the things you needed to cover. Also look to make sure the capture area does not include things you don’t want the world to see, like your username, passwords, browser tabs open or software that is running.
9. Publish and share. The breadth and distribution of your screencast depends on your goal, topic, and intended audience. Social media tools like Twitter, Facebook, and video allow wide distribution of screencasts. Many screencast product Web sites and video sharing sites allow and encourage visitors to embed screencasts in their own blogs and Web sites.
10. Watch screencasts. I have learned new screencast and general teaching techniques by watching the screencasts of other educators – in and out of EMS.
View, share, and copy my screencasts at Screenr.
Would you like me to make a screencast of a elearning production technique or showcase a specific website. Make your suggestion in the comments area.