screencast guide hero

In today’s world, everyone needs to know how to screencast.

It used to be the realm of sales departments or human resources that needed to master sharing their screen with others. But in today’s environment, teachers and other education professionals must wear the hat of a content creator to teach effectively. Screencasting is an excellent teaching tool often used for video tutorials, video lessons, training videos, how-to tips, and recorded presentations.

And it’s not just teachers, but students that need this skill. Students can illustrate projects and ideas with a well-thought-out screencast. This article covers what a screencast is and reveals how to create a professional and informative screencast.

What Is A Screencast?

A screenshot captures a static representation of the computer screen at a given time, whereas screencasting is a screen recording or screen capture video of the computer screen output. Used as instructional videos, the digital video recording often includes audio narration to explain what the students see in the video.

The video recording captures the actions taking place on the screen for a given time. The audio recording can be a presenter narrating, sound from the application demonstrated, or background audio from an audio file or another application.

Why Screencast?

The power of screencasting lies in its versatility to be used as an online training course, flipped classrooms, or in the physical classroom for students from Kindergarten to high school to business training sessions.

  • Students learn from watching screencasts with practical step-by-step demonstrations as the teachers walk them through the process.
  • Screencasts are excellent tools to share ideas at school, work, or home. It allows you to demonstrate your ideas in a structured manner so that viewers can understand the concepts.
  • Screencasting makes creating videos less intimidating and more approachable to beginners.
  • Learners don’t have to download the videos; they can view the video directly on YouTube, Google Drive, or a website platform.
a screen caster using a nice microphone to help her audience.

What Is The Benefit Of Screencasting?

Pause And Rewatch To Learn At Your Own Pace

With the ability to pause and rewatch screencast videos, the student learns at their pace. By pausing the videos, they can take notes or practice the demonstrated step without missing screen content. Rewatching the videos helps with remembering details and helps for grasping complex content or steps they want to re-iterate.

Convenience

Kids have sports, chores, and activities at different times, which means they don’t do homework simultaneously. Students can view the screencast video lesson at their convenience, allowing them to optimize the learning opportunity.

Audio Level

Watching the video screen capture at home allows the student to control the sound level without disturbing classmates. Some kids prefer loud audio, while others want to turn the sound down.

Practice

Students can practice what they are learning on the screencast tutorial. The teacher can include in the video creation time for students to practice by repeating the demonstration step. Alternatively, students can pause the video to practice before continuing with the lesson. 

Step By Step Guide How To Create A Screencast

STEP 1: Choose Your Screen Recording Tools

You will need:

A Quiet Place

For a high-quality video, you should maximize the audio quality by recording in a quiet place. You don’t want background noise to interfere.

A small, furnished room works best; an empty space will cause a hollow sound, and in a large room, sounds echo louder as they bounce against the walls. Close the door and windows; lock the door against unwanted interruption; and turn off all appliances that make sounds, for example, a fan, printer, or computer.

An External Microphone

The microphone quality influences the audio quality, which contributes to the video quality. To avoid crackling, echoing, hissing, and other background noises, use an external microphone and not a built-in laptop or smartphone mic with a headset.

You’ll find condenser microphones at most radio stations where it is essential to catch every sound; if you’re not recording in a completely quiet environment, this type of microphone may not be a practical option for audio recording. Dynamics microphones block out unwanted noise and echoes.

USB port microphones don’t require special adapters or sound cards like XLR microphones. However, XLR microphones may have better sound quality that could make the extra expenditure worthwhile. 

man sharing his window in a screencast

Screen Recording Software

Screen recording software with a built-in video editor will save the teacher or student time and reduce beginner frustration levels. Some software features allow you to record a webcam video at the same time as the screencast.

OBS Studio is an example of open-source software that allows live streaming and video recording; it works on Windows, Mac, and Linux. The OBS Studio software integrates with multiple platforms making it a convenient program for screen recordings. Gamers also like to use OBS Studio due to its versatility. Camtasia and Screencast-O-Matic are excellent alternatives to OBS studio.

STEP 2: Planning and Writing The Screencast Script

Planning

Planning helps students and teachers create structured screencasts with a beginning, middle, and end. It works on the same principle as a lesson plan, a homework assignment, or a project. The first few seconds are crucial; the greatest secret is to engage the audience from the beginning by telling them upfront why they should watch the video and what to expect. If a student has an overview, it is easier for them to follow the explainer video.

The Script

Write the script based on the strategized plan. The script helps you stay on track during the video recording and guides you to the next point in the lesson, demonstration, or instructional video. Without a script, you could be at a loss for words creating embarrassing pauses. Make the script easy to follow but not too short. A list of bullet points can have you run out of words too soon or ramble on too long on a topic.

Write in a conversational tone so that students can easily follow. Jargon, acronyms, and unnecessary technical terms may confuse them; you don’t want the student stuck on a word they don’t understand and lose focus. If you usually speak with contractions, then use them when screencasting.  

An effective screencast recording uses clear and concise text; each word should count, eliminate fillers, adverbs, and passive sentences. If the word or sentence doesn’t contribute to the purpose of the screencast, remove it. When you’re done writing, use proofreading software tools to proofread and edit your script. Read the scripted text aloud to hear how it will sound to the students. It helps to identify awkward and too long sentences, unnatural transitions, or complex phrases.

Bonus Tips For Planning and Writing the Script

  • What is the purpose of the video? What is the learning objective, and how does the screencast video teach or demonstrate the solution?
  • What actions do you want the audience to take? Give them clear instructions during the digital recording and add a call to action at the end – tell them what to do after they viewed the video.
  • How much detail on the screen do you want to explain during the demonstration? Will the digital recording be sufficient, or does the eLearning course content or classroom instruction video require a more detailed narrative?
  • Are you using audio? What type of voice recording?
  • What about graphics to highlight the points?

Prepare The Screen

  • Most of us have untidy desktop screens. Clean up your desktop window before you start recording.
  • Turn off notifications; you don’t want to start over because a notification came through in the middle of the recording.
  • Remove distracting desktop wallpapers.
  • Close unnecessary browser tabs.

STEP 3: Record A Screencast

Recording Preparations

Before you start to record a screencast, rehearse the script by reading it aloud a few times. Use the same light, the conversational tone you will be using during the recording.

If this is your first time handling a microphone, practice beforehand; if it’s too close to your mouth, it picks up mouth and throat sounds and too far too much ambient noise. Adjust the volume to suit your voice; some people talk softer and others louder.

Your posture influences the recording sound quality. A straight back, shoulders back, chest forward, and belly distended helps your voice sound stronger and more powerful.

Record And Edit Screencasts

Decide if you are going to record the entire screen, a section, or a window. Make sure your screen is only showing tabs and toolbars you will be using during the video. Don’t forget to remove the taskbar with the start button if it is not part of the screencast lesson or tutorial. If you haven’t turned off wallpapers, notifications, and popups from your window, do it now.

Mouse movements from the mouse cursor on the screen are distracting and irritating; hide the mouse cursor if you’re not going to use it. If you use it for navigation, make sure movements are regular and concise; you don’t want the students following a wayward mouse instead of concentrating on the lesson.

When you are ready, open the screen recorder program and start the screen recordings.

The ideal video resolution for screencast recording is 1280 x 720 pixels (720i). You don’t want black margins around the video screen, especially if uploading on YouTube or a social media platform. Students can see the screen clearly at this resolution, making it easier to follow the steps on the screen.

Record your screen. Prepare yourself for retakes, especially as a beginner; only professionals who have experience in screencasting and audio recording get it right the first time. As you gain experience, screencasting becomes more straightforward, and you learn to avoid previous mistakes and pitfalls.

A tip to save time with re-recording videos is to record your computer screenshots and audio separately. Most screencasting and video editor software tools have these features; these video editing tools combine the two sections to create the video. It allows you to keep the successful recordings without having to redo the entire screencast.

Edit the recordings and cut unwanted video clips. Be merciless; a clean, to-the-point screencast is more effective than rambling videos. Make sure the videos start immediately when the student clicks the start button; “dead air” at the beginning, during transitions, or at the end have no purpose.

Use a screencasting tool to create your video by combining the screenshots and audio clips during the editing phase.

screencasting in college or high school

Tips for Recording and Video Editing Screencasts

  • A video with an intro and outro is more polished and professional-looking. Use a 15-seconds music clip, add a title screen or a logo to indicate the beginning and end of the videos.
  • Students view screencasts on computers, monitors, tablets, or mobile devices with different resolutions and screen sizes. Viewing on a mobile device may result in illegible text and too small screenshots with the wrong resolution setting. Avoid this by setting your video resolution to 1280 x 720.
  • Increase the mouse cursor size to large so that viewers can follow mouse movements on smartphones and tablets.
  • Use the up-down keys instead of the mouse to scroll to the next position on the screen for a smoother screen transition. If the video jumps from one screen to another, it disorientates the viewer.
  • You can use background music that complements the video topic.
  • Use a screen recorder and video editing program together to simplify the process.
  • Choose the screencast tool that works best for you.

STEP 4: Save And Share Screencasts

Save your screencast as an MP4 video file to share with multiple platforms. Capture and download the video file in Mp4 format on your computer for effortless viewing access. The MP4 format is the user-friendly format for downloading, exporting, or sharing the screencast via email, in a blog post, article, or uploading it to a social media platform or YouTube. Some screencasting software allows you to upload to YouTube, Google Drive, or Vimeo directly.

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