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Friday, May 29, 2009

Four Free Tools for Creating Screencasts

Making screencast videos is a good way to create a record of the instructions that you may have to frequently give to students or colleagues. Post your screencasts online and your students and colleagues can watch them when you're not available to answer their "how-to" questions. In the past I have created screencasts for my students about adding pages to wikis. If you've never created a screencast because you thought that you had to have some special skills, this post is for you. The four tools highlighted below allow you to create screencast videos quickly and easily. All four of these tools can be used on Mac or Windows computers.

Jing is a free screencasting tool available as a Mac or Windows download. Using Jing you can record videos of your computer screen to visually demonstrate and orally explain to viewers how to perform a task on their own computers. You can also use Jing to take screenshots on which you can then draw and label. Jing screencast videos can be resized to fit your blog or website by following the directions given in the Jing help center. Of the five screencasting tools in this list, Jing offers the most free features. The only drawback to Jing is that you do have to install software on your computer.

ScreenToaster is completely free and quite easy to use. It is a great product although it doesn't have quite as many features as Jing. The trade-off between using ScreenToaster and Jing is that to use ScreenToaster you do not need to install any software. ScreenToaster is a completely web based application that allows you to record what is happening on your computer screen at any given time. ScreenToaster now allows you to record audio to accompany your screencasts. With ScreenToaster you can choose to record all of your screen or just a portion of your screen. When your recording is complete you can save your screencast to your computer, upload it to ScreenToaster, or upload it to YouTube. ScreenToaster is the tool I used to make this popular video about Google's Wonder Wheel.

Screen Castle is a simple screencast creation tool that is completely web-based. To use Screen Castle simply visit their website, click the start button and you're recording. You have the option to enable voice recording for your screencasts. Screencasts made using Screen Castle can be viewed on the Screen Castle website (see my example here) or embedded into another website or blog.

Screencast-O-Matic is a web-based screencast creation tool similar to Screen Castle. Screencast-O-Matic allows you to specify how much of your screen that you want to record. Recording your voice is an available option. Every time that I've tried Screencast-O-Matic it was slow so you probably need to have a fast Internet connection to use Screencast-O-Matic effectively.

What's missing from this list? What screencasting tools do you recommend? Please leave a comment.

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