A screencast is one of the easiest and most effective ways to share your content. Infopreneurs and course creators have brought this form of video into the mainstream. It’s an expected skill now and it’s an easy way to monetize what you know. Best of all, it’s really not hard or expensive.
Why Create A Screencast
If you already know why you should do this, here’s your free pass to scan ahead. If you’re still wondering what or why you would want to do this, keep reading.
Still here? Good, all those people who skipped ahead will have to come back and re-read all this when they realize they need it.
A screencast is where you record your computer screen while using it to do a task. Usually (almost always) you also record your voice over the video as well to explain what you’re doing.
Screencasting lends itself towards pedagogical learning, rather than just giving information. Think of it like this. You can read a book on how to play the guitar, but having someone actually sit down with you and explain it would be much easier, right?!
A screencast does exactly that. It explains what you’re doing, usually in some software platform, to someone who wants to learn that skill. Simple, right?
Screencasting allows you to teach someone a new skill by showing rather than just describing it. In teaching research, we’ve learned that verbal instruction is less effective than visual. Verbal and visual increases effective teaching to around 85% depending on who you listen to.
So this type of teaching also helps you be a more effective teacher.
Combining visuals and verbal instruction also makes learning more interesting. When you use a visual to reinforce an idea, it engages more senses and increases people’s ability to remember. However, using comedy or storytelling increases retention enormously.
As you think about screencasting, consider how you can use these elements to make your teaching more fun and memorable.
Effective Uses of Screencasting
- Teach visually
- Combine visual and verbal instruction
- Using visual explanations
- Adding humor
- Telling stories
Planning Your Screencast
Now you’re convinced you want to screencast your next teaching. Awesome! But what next? Do you sit down and start blabbing in front of your screen. Nope. Unless you’re amazingly talented or lucky, you need to plan how your screencast will flow.
Now’s the time to ask yourself what your target audience wants to know. What would help them get over that hurdle they’re experiencing? What could help them succeed in what they’re trying to do?
Screencasting is teaching. So remember what it was like studying for your vocabulary test or cramming for that algebra exam. You don’t want to put your student through that, right?
Start with an outline
There are tons of ways to outline your teaching. Some people start with the end and work backwards, That’s a great process. Other people like to plan each step as an escalating series of wins. This is also a great way to plan your instruction.
It doesn’t really matter how you plan your screencast. What matters is having a plan.
I’ve found that most teaching breaks down into 3 – 7 points that you can expand on. If you have more, consider breaking the instruction into two parts. If you have less, combine your two points into one so that it flows better.
Here’s a great sample outline:
- Introduce Screencasting
- Explain Why Screencasting is Helpful
- How to set up your screencast
- Recording your screencast
- Editing and publishing your screencast
See, that’s not too hard?
Now, I go back and look at my outline thinking about what parts will be fun and which parts might be boring. They generally look like this:
- Is there a way I can make the boring parts more entertaining?
- If I were to chart out the screencast according to interest, where would the valleys be?
- Can I create something interesting so that it looks like I’m climbing a mountain?
Think about your flow like you would think about a great book or movie. There should be points where your student has breathing space to absorb the information, but you really want to keep the action moving towards a peak.
For more on how to create a great flow for your screencast, check out this awesome TED talk from Nancy Duarte. In this talk, she breaks down some of the best speeches and talks about how each resembles each other in the way they flow.
Now you’ll want to develop your outline and make one point about what will be different in a person’s life after learning this new skill. The bigger you can make that gap of before and after, the more value your learner will place on your course.
Ok, you’re probably to the point of this post where you’ve hit a valley. You’re getting close to, “Ok, I got it, can we just get to the screencasting?”
And I get that feeling right here too. But as a friend of mine says often when asked if all this planning is necessary, he says, “Only if you care about being successful.” So gloss over this pre-screencasting and get to the meat of this post, but come back later when you really want to make your teaching super effective.
Script out your outline either by writing it out or, if you’re comfortable, get each point solidified in your mind. Rehearse it some so that your super comfortable with it.
How To Screencast
Take a deep breath. Here we go.
First, here’s what you need (and also what you might want)
- Web camera – this can be the one on your computer if you have that
- Mic – this can be the one on your computer too
Most computers come with a mic and webcam built in already. They’re usually ok for getting started and if you’re on a budget, they will work. For this setup, you can get going right away with needing to purchase any other equipment. Yay!
Better than Basics
- Computer and separate monitor
- Separate Webcam
- Separate Mic
With a few simple upgrades, your screencast can go from ok to amazing. Start with a separate monitor. This just makes it easier to control what you are recording while controlling your computer as well. I record on my external monitor while keeping track of my notes on my computer’s native monitor.
You might not think there’s a difference between webcams, but if you see a really good one, you’ll have a hard time going back. I
like love the Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920. It records in HD, has great autofocus and has a wide enough angle to capture most everything I want. Plus it’s on;y around $60, which is much cheaper than buying a camera.
Two options here to up your audio game for your screencast. First is super easy and inexpensive. Say it with me – La-Va-Lier (it helps if you raise your hands and give sprinkles like a cheerleader when you say it). Lavalier mics are great because the difference between a super awesome expensive one and a very cheap on is small.
You can start with the Movo PM10 Deluxe Lavalier. For $15 you get a very decent mic that can plug right into your computer or smartphone. Seriously, this is legit. If you want to go a little bit better quality in a lav mic, this is what you want. The Rode smartLav+ is as much mic as you could want.
If you want something more than a lav mic, say if you’re going to also do a lot voice overs or podcasting, you can’t go wrong with a Yeti, either a Blue Snowball for $45, or a Blue Yeti USB Microphone for around $110. Both are so easy to use and sound great.
You can use lots of different software to make this happen. Screencast-o-matic (terrible name, but good software) is a great freeware option if you’re teaching is under 10 minutes. You can record using your onboard mic or external mic. Native resolutions are also available for screen sizes, or you can draw an area within the screen you want to capture.
If you need more options and have plenty of money to spend, you can get Camtasia for $199. It will easily get the job done and more.
My recommendation, though, would be Filmora. For $45 (year license) or $60 for a lifetime license, you get more than you could ever want for a screencasting app. Plus, if you want to edit video, you get an amazing app that rivals iMovie and even Final Cut Pro X. Basically, Filmora let’s you do everything you would need to for screencasting, and it does it easily. Think of Instagram for screencasting.
Recording Your Screencast
Now it’s time. You’ve done the work, planned your flow, written and rewritten your outline, rehearsed your script.. you did rehearse your script, right?!
I like to either print our my notes/outline/script before recording or, if you have two screens, leave the notes on the other screen. This will keep you on track and focused.
Ok, get yourself set up. Set up your mic, external monitor if you have it and connect everything. Make a test run. Are your audio levels good? Can you see everything you need to see? If not, make some corrections, get it right before you go through the whole recording process. Trust me, it’s easier to fix all that now than it will be later.
Now just do it. Hit record and don’t stop until it’s done. If you stumble over your words, just stop, give yourself a couple of seconds and then keep going. You can always edit out mistakes later as long as you redo it right then.
That’s it for recording. Hi fives! When you’re done, hit stop, do a mic drop and go get a celebratory drink (I prefer a nice Chai Tea Latte).
Editing Your Screencast
Check out the video screencast of Filmora. Yeah, it’s a screencast on how to screencast. Basically, it’s what Inception should have been.
If you’ve learned something useful here, please share this with your friends. You can subscribe below if you want to hear about my next course on how to make videos the easy way.