Create a Screencast
by Katherine Baeckeroot
Create screencasts to enhance the delivery of your course content and to provide variation of content in your online learning environment.
Before creating a screencast, make sure you have all the required tools. Here’s a quick list to get you started:
- A computer (PC or Mac)
- A microphone
- Screencast or video recording software
- A webcam (optional)
Screencasts can be as fancy as you want them to be, but the core tools are your computer, microphone, and screencast software.
Depending on your budget, use one of the following tools to develop your screencast.
- TechSmith Camtasia
- Nimbus Capture
- OBX Studio
- Adobe Captivate
There are eight basic steps to create a screencast:
- Identify the topic to demonstrate and its purpose
- Align the topic of the screencast to the learning outcomes of the course (or program)
- Develop a script
- Choose a recording method
- Practice, practice, practice!
- Record the screencast
- Edit and design the screencast
- Publish the screencast to the appropriate format and post it to the necessary sites
Identify a Topic
The first step is to choose a topic for the screencast. Whether you are providing instructions, presenting a lecture with a slideshow, or giving a tutorial of an interface, clearly define the topic of the screencast and clarify its purpose before moving on to the rest of the steps. A strong purpose helps you home in on your audience (the learner) and their learning needs.
The goals of this step are to:
- Establish clear intentions for the content of the screencast
- Verify that a screencast is the most beneficial medium for communicating this information to the learner
- Determine what the learner should gain from the recording
Align the Topic to Learning Outcomes
Align the topic of the screencast to one or several learning outcomes from your course map. Doing so helps ensure that your instructional material retains a learner-centered approach by establishing a connection between the screencast and what the learners should know, understand, or do by taking the course.
The goals of this step are to:
- Make sure the screencast enhances the learning experience
- Ensure the content is directly related to the desired outcomes of the course or program
Develop a Script
Developing a script will save you time and stress later on in the process. A script is an outline of what you plan to say during the screencast and what you will show on the screen at the time you say it.
Here’s an example of a generic screencast script, where you have:
- the step ID
- the action on the screen
- an example of the screen or a screenshot
- the narration for the step
As you prepare your script, here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Keep your narration conversational—you want your viewers to feel like they’re having an in-person conversation with you. Try not to be too formal.
- Speak to what’s happening on the screen. If you are selecting an option from a menu or speaking to a feature in an application, either say so or make a note in your script to highlight it later in the editing process using visual elements.
- Keep your script simple, succinct, and precise. Don’t make it overly complicated, long-winded, or too descriptive.
Choose a Recording Method
There are a couple of ways you can record your screencast:
- In separate chunks
- From beginning to end
If you feel comfortable with your video editing skills, you can record your screencast in separate chunks. For example, you might record the beginning introduction, the ending, and individual tasks, and then during the editing and design phase, combine them all to create your screencast.
If you don’t feel comfortable using video editing tools, or if you want to make sure the flow is consistent throughout the video, record the screencast from beginning to end in one recording session.
Most screencast tools support the ability to edit and manage many recording takes and tracks at once. However, if you use a less feature-rich tool to create your screencasts, it might not be capable of recording content in separate chunks and combining them later on.
Practice Your Script
After you developed your script and decided how to record the content, practice speaking and performing the tasks to show in the screencast. Practicing helps make the delivery of the screencast smoother and more natural, improving transitions between different steps, screens, or slides. It also allows you to identify the best times to pause for emphasis and take breaths.
Record the Screencast
When you are ready, record the screencast. Be sure to adjust your microphone beforehand, use a quiet room, and have fun!
Edit and Design the Screencast
After you finished your recording(s), use the screencast tool or video editing software to add graphics, animations, text, callouts, or music to the screencast. These additions are not required, but they help to significantly improve the overall delivery and engagement of the screencast for your learners.
Another consideration during this step is the addition of captions. Captions are helpful for learners who may be hard of hearing or when English is their second language. Captions are also beneficial for improving the overall comprehension of the video content.
Depending on the state or country you are teaching from, you may be legally obligated to include captions as an accessible alternative to the audio in the video.
Keep in mind, video hosting platforms (like YouTube) support the automatic generation of captions. Tools like this are handy when you are short on time, but they aren't always perfect. Be sure to check the quality of the captions before publishing the video to these platforms.
Here are some best practices for creating captions for screencasts:
- Use the equivalent wording spoken in the video—don't summarize or omit sentences or phrases.
- Display the captions at the same time they are spoken in the video. You want the captions synchronized to the video playback.
For more information, see Add Captions.
Publish and Post the Screencast
When the screencast is ready to go, export or publish the screencast to a video file format, such as MP4, MOV, or WMV. Most of the time you will use MP4, but the file type can depend on several factors and needs. For information about which file type is best for you, see this video from TechSmith:
After exporting the video, post it to a hosting platform like YouTube or Vimeo, and then link to the video from several locations (or courses) as necessary. Your learning management system might also support the ability to embed the video directly in your course modules.
Screencasts. Centre for Teaching Excellence. (2018, September 21). https://uwaterloo.ca/centre-for-teaching-excellence/teaching-resources/teaching-tips/educational-technologies/all/screencasts.
Ruffini, M. (2012, October 31). Screencasting to Engage Learning. EDUCAUSE. https://er.educause.edu/articles/2012/11/screencasting-to-engage-learning.
Umayam, C. (2020, July 6). Write an Engaging Video Script with these 6 Tips. Screencast-O-Matic. https://screencast-o-matic.com/blog/write-engaging-script-6-tips/.