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What are Screencasts?

Screencasts are video recordings of the activity on your computer screen, accompanied by audio narration and frequently including special effects like panning, drawing, the inclusion of callouts or arrow, or other visuals which help emphasize particular aspects of the video. The video below is an example of a screencast from the UBC Library.

How do they support learning?

Screencasts are one method of many to create video which supports learning. Uses for screencasts in learning include:

demonstrating how to use a web application or piece of software

illustrating a particular concept via a whiteboard application or animated drawing.

Learning Wrapper concept piloted by the Digital Tattoo project
Learning Wrapper concept piloted by the Digital Tattoo project

Creating learning wrappers for your screencasts help to support the learning outcomes your students are working towards. Learning wrappers may include:

guiding questions for student to consider when watching your screencast

a self-assessment to follow the watching of your screencast

resources to extend learning

an opportunity to discuss or work with the content in some way: this might be an in-class activity

An excellent example of the learning wrapper format is the Ted Ed initiative, which allows users to work with a Ted video, or any other video hosted on YouTube, to create a learning experience.

We modelled our own version of a learning wrapper to integrate with UBC's CMS, built on WordPress. We're piloting it on the Digital Tattoo site. If you want to test it yourself, the documentation is here.

Instructional design support

Working in Connect? Visit LTHub.

Working in WordPress? Have a look at UBC's CMS page, and register for one of the CTLT's WordPress dropin clinics.

Looking for learning/instructional design resources? Contact your CTLT learning/instructional designer, your Flexible Learning liaison, or your Instructional Support Unit for consultation.


Here are some examples of effective practice in screencasting.

  • Dr. Robert Talbert discusses the pedagogical framework he uses for incorporating screencasts as "lectures" into his classroom.

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More examples at Visual Media for Flexible Learning.

What do I need?

Hardware Software

While computers won't be discussed (most modern computers are more than powerful enough to record and edit a screencast) your choice of microphone will greatly affect the quality of your DIY media project.

Microphones: Here are a few useful links if you're looking at microphones.

  • The DIY Media website has a page on microphone suggestions, going over the various types of microphones available.
  • Choosing Microphones is a 4-minute video from which has some helpful tips for deciding what kind of microphone will best suit your needs.
  • Wistia's Learning Centre demonstrates the quality of sound achieved with different mics in this 4.5 minute video.

Recording & editing software

  • Camtasia (Mac, PC)
    • Camtasia is a dedicated screencasting and video editing tool. For tutorials and help, have a look at the Using Camtasia section of the DIY Media website.
    • To find out how to get a license for Camtasia, click here.
  • Mac OS X Snow Leopard (and higher) includes built-in screen recording tools. You can then edit your footage in iMovie or any other video editing software you have installed.
  • Windows Movie Maker (Windows)
    • Windows Movie Maker is reasonably powerful, free to download editing software.
  • CamStudio (Windows)
    • Camstudio is free and open-source. While it hasn't been updated since late 2013, it will record your screen and audio perfectly and has basic editing and annotating functions.

How do I do it?