Screencasting for Lecture Capture

During this first couple of weeks of the new teaching term I’ve been experimenting with using screen capture software as a means of capturing my lectures. Using nothing more than the built-in microphone on my Macbook Pro and an educational license for Camtasia Studio, I’ve been able to capture several lectures live in the lecture room. When I plug my Mac into the LCD projector, the screen resolution changes to super VGA (1024 x 768 pixels). I literally set Camtasia Studio to use the built-in microphone and full screen capture and switch on record at the start of the lecture. At the end I stop the recording, save the Camtasia Project file and convert it to MPeg 4 (Apple Quicktime format). This takes about 30 minutes to an hour but it’s literally all the post-processing I do. Then I upload the result to the Learning Objects Podcast tool in the Blackboard course site and it’s there for my students to review. Next time the course is given, I’ll be able to provide the screencast before the lecture, allowing me to “flip” my teaching.

The quality is surprisingly good. The only thing missing is a transcript and a copy of what gets written on the blackboard!

Here’s a screencast I made today of a lecture that I gave on Web Applications. I chose to use this as an example because as well as an illustration of what’s possible, the subject of the lecture might be of interest to my readers.

http://content.screencast.com/users/cpjobling/folders/EG-259/media/be6581f9-412b-4b88-824d-e165d4548238/mp4h264player.swf

http://www.screencast.com/users/cpjobling/folders/EG-259/media/be6581f9-412b-4b88-824d-e165d4548238/embed

The best quality is obtained by hosting the result on Screencast.com or the Learning Objects podcast tool. I’ve also uploaded it to YouTube (which normally has a 15 minute limit) and Vimeo so you can get a comparison of the relative quality of those delivery options.

Camtasia Studio is the professional screen capture software of choice and is best for live lectures, or other longer or more complex production tasks. If you have shorter screencasts to prepare, Jing (from the same people who make Camtasia Studio) and Screenr work well and are free. To find out more, Jisc Digital Media provides some useful resources on Screencasting and have been running a series of surgeries, including one on Screencasting for Lecture Capture, recently.

Author: cpjobling

Senior lecturer, College of Engineering, Swansea University