Developing educational screencasts

What is a screencast?
A screencast is a digital recording of computer screen activity, often containing audio narration (Budgett et al 2007). It is sometimes referred to as video podcast or simply a video.

A screencast gives a "look over my shoulder" effect similar to one-on-one instruction and can be accessed whenever and wherever it is convenient (Educause Learning Initiative 2006). The combination of video and audio appeal to different learning styles and, as it is produced locally, it may more approachable than glitzy packaged instructional videos (Kanter 2008).

Screencasts are particularly useful for demonstrating software applications and showing how to use online tools such as websites and library catalogues. Other potential uses include: PowerPoint presentations or mini-lectures (difficult concepts, guidelines & overview), model solutions, feedback/corrections, FAQs, website testing, mathcasts (using a tablet & software such as MS One Note to handwrite maths solutions with voice-overs).

View a short presentation on the process of creating a screencast (with audio) or example screencasts - image and software. Read a two-page overview from an educational perspective: 7 Things You Should Know About Screencasting (Educause article).

Practical tips

  • Start small and build on successes
  • Keep bitesize - better a series of short, clearly focused screencasts (less than 10 mins, shorter even better, see Cann 2007)
  • Use for a specific, clear purposes (guidelines & overview, support an activity or problem or project based learning, review difficult concept, revise for a test, giving feedback)
  • Plan your recording (consider using a script)
  • If possible, add interaction (quiz elements, or even click button to continue at various points)
  • When recording, record at low resolution (such as 800x600) and record only application window or defined area

    There are both commercial and free software options for creating screencasts. Commerical include Adobe Captivate (of which we have a limited number of licences here - you can try a free full-functional one-month trial), Camtasia and ViewletBuilder. Camstudio is an open source option whilst Windows Media Encoder is included with Microsoft Windows.

    What next?
    If you are interested in creating screencasts, have a look at some of the references and consider downloading and experimenting with Adobe Captivate or Camstudio. In early 2009, there will be a workshop on creating educational screencasts as well as potentially software and equipment to borrow from the Teaching and Learning Centre.


  • Bonnington C P, Oates G, Parnell S, Paterson J and Stratton W (2007) 'A report on the use of tablet technology and screen recording software in tertiary mathematics courses' 6th Southern Hemisphere Conference on Mathematics and Statistics Teaching and Learning paper
  • Budgett S, Cumming J and Miller C (2007) 'The role of Screencasting in statistics courses’ Paper presented at the International Statistical Institute conference (Lisbon)
  • Cann A J (2007) Podcasting is Dead. Long Live Video! paper
  • Costello E (2008) 'Developing Educational Resources Using Camtasia Studio' NDLR workshop presentation
  • Educause Learning Initiative (2006) 'Screencasting and education' paper
  • Fahlberg T, Fahlberg-Stojanovska L and MacNeil G (2007) 'Whiteboard math movies' Teaching Mathematics and Its Applications 26(1)
  • Huettner B (2008) Adobe Captivate 3 : the definitive guide Wordware Publishing (in library)
  • Kanter B (2008) 'Screencasting Primer' paper
  • Peterson E (2007) 'Incorporating Screencasts in Online Teaching' paper
  • Salmon G and Edirisingha P (2008) Podcasting for Learning in Universities Berkshire: Open University Press (in library)

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    If you have any suggestions or questions, please contact Damien Raftery, eLearning Development Officer