This page was created as a resource page to support the Tech Express Workshop: Screencasting Tools, held on April 10th, 2014.



A screencast is a video recording of the activity on your computer screen. This is typically accompanied with an audio narration and special effects such as panning or callouts to emphasize areas of the screen or actions taking place. It is typically used for tutorials or software demonstration.

Screencasts are not the ideal choice for projects which do not record movement/activity on a computer screen. If your project does not require screen captures then consider using a more appropriate technology such as a podcast; course management system; online conferencing tool; PowerPoint or other slide show software; or a webcast.

Here's an example of a topic with enough "action" to justify being screencast:

Advantages and Disadvantages

Screencasts cater to mobile and self-directed people who learn better by seeing and hearing. Screencasts in particular can inspire users by allowing them to see their problems resolved before their eyes.

The greatest advantage for the creator of the screencast is the ability to disseminate instruction repeatedly and asynchronously to many users. This is offset by the greater amount of time it takes to script and produce audio and video content. Moreover, screencasts are not easily searchable or "scannable" and so may not be the ideal vehicle for some projects, e.g., FAQs.

Select Software

The following is a very select list of some of the free and paid applications available for screencasting. Consult Wikipedia for a thorough comparison of Screencasting applications.


In general, most free services allow you to create "what you see is what you get" projects: recordings showing your screen activity along with an option to record a voice over. With few/no post-production editing options these tools are best for quick instructions or demonstrating a couple steps of a process. Example topics might be "How to upload your assignment in Connect" or "Using myJstor to set up a virtual bookshelf."

Requires Software Download

No Software required

There are many paid screencasting applications that allow you to edit and improve your work. Products like these can save you time in the long run as you can edit out mistakes rather than rerecording your entire project from scratch. Their post-production capabilities allow you to produce a slicker and more professional product than with a free-ware option and may include value-added features such as quizzing functions, subtitling and image/shape/sound libraries.

Features of Paid Screencasting Software

1. Timeline editing:

  • Delete mistakes during recording without completely restarting
  • Edit out ums, coughs and other sounds
  • Splitting of video tracks into smaller clips

2. Create video actions

  • Panning and Zooming
  • Highlight Actions such as mouse pointer, clicking and even showing keyboard actions
  • Transparent callout; useful for hyperlinks (Camtasia)
  • Quizzes (Camtasia on Windows only)

3. Annotate your video

  • Insert text boxes
  • Draw boxes
  • Highlight Areas of the video through background shading or blurring
  • Insert images or PPT slides

4. Meet accessibility requirements

Include subtitles

5. Edit and Publishing Videos

  • Record new audio or video tracks to update
  • Export in more file formats
  • Maintain ownership over your video files

Screencasting Best Practices

These are some best practices that may help you get started. You can also download a checklist to help you while you're working.
File:Checklist for screencasting.docx

Before Recording

Do some lesson planning:

Write a Script

Screencasts work best as visual demonstrations of concepts which are difficult or time-consuming to explain in text formats - e.g., following a complex navigation path through a website or demonstrating a process with multiple steps.

Consider Screen Elements

Most screencasting tools allow you to choose the size and position of your recording area. You can

The larger the recording area the more context you provide for your viewers. However, if your recording dimensions are too large your video will be difficult to watch when played in media players like YouTube and on mobile devices. A good approach is to think about the size of screen/player that your audience will likely use to watch your work, then select a recording area no more than 15% larger.

More Tips:

Desktop and Browser Preparation

Spend some time preparing your computer prior to recording.


After you've rehearsed, start recording. Make sure you stick to the script. If you have advanced screencasting software, you can always edit out errors later.





Advanced screencasting software has a number of advantages including:

Arranging Your Video

Text and Frames



Think about where you're going to host your file. Popular services such as Vimeo and YouTube allow you to upload the file once and then embed wherever you want.

Output File types


This work is licensed under a CC BY-SA 2.5 CA Creative Commons license.