Thursday, December 06, 2007

FREE - Screencasting Software - Screen-o-Matic

I was reading an eNewsletter I get from the November Learning Group, and one of the topics was on this free screencasting software, Screen-o-matic (gotta love that name), and I felt compelled to share this information with our loyal consortium members. There are several (not free) tools out there to create slick presentations, or screencasts. Here on the Eighth Floor, we use Adobe Captivate. In fact, we teach a rather fun class on using Captivate. (next class is on March 26th)

So, I can hear you saying (we on the Eighth Floor have those sorts of ears) what exactly is a screencast and why is this such popular technology to use in and for the classroom? Here's what the November Learning Group has to say in their article:

Show your students how to become directors, publishers and producers. Help them create authentic, content-rich tutorials for their classmates and audiences
around the world. Screencasting is a quick and easy-to-use tool that can help you
create slick demonstration tutorials in any subject area, using any computer
application. The software allows you to record a movie of what you are doing on
a computer. Along with your movie, you can record voice-over audio to provide a
series of instructions.

No, it is not as slick as Captivate - but did I mention it is free? I played with it a little and found it to be pretty darn easy to create a quick screen cast. Here is my clever first attempt: I admit that I didn't look at the tutorial as a good learner should, and I am sure that shows!

Here are a few of their FAQs:

1. What platforms/browsers are supported?
We're using a Java applet (requires Java 1.5) to do the screen capture and playback so theoretically it should support all major platforms and browsers. That said there are some issues with certain combinations of platforms/browsers. Here is what we've tested on so far:
All Good! - Windows Vista / IE 7.0
All Good! - Windows Vista / Firefox 2.0
All Good! - Windows XP SP2 / IE 6.0
All Good! - Windows XP SP2 / IE 7.0
All Good! - Windows XP SP2 / Firefox 2.0
All Good! - Windows XP SP2 / Opera 9
All Good! - MAC OS X / Safari 2.0.4
All Good! - MAC OS X / Firefox 2.0
Minor Capturing Issues - Linux (Redhat Fadora Core 3) / Firefox 2.0 Please let us know if you use Screencast-O-Matic on any other platform/browser combinations!

2. How much does it cost?
Nothing! It's completely free.

3. Can I export my screencast to flash, quicktime, windows media, etc?
You can export your screencast to quicktime (.mov) format.

4. Can I get better image or audio quality?
The quality of the screen image and audio is reduced since we want to have fast downloads for watching the screencasts. If you'd like to have better quality let us know and we'll work on making that available!

5. What is the max length a screencast can be?
Right now they are limited to 15 minutes each for free hosting.

For more on screencasting and a quick list of free and not free tools, read Alan November's quick article.

Just Sharin'
Lee Anne

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