Screencaptures & Screencasts in Education, Assessment, and Research

Screencaptures & Screencasts in Education, Assessment, and Research

It can sometimes be problematic for us to work with students or colleagues in multimodal environments, but provide them with linear text directions how to navigate and engage with that environment. Using various, FREE tools we can create multimodal directions that learners can watch, watch again…watch again.

Multimodal tutorials are screencasts, or screencaptures of what is happening on your computer screen. There are two major types of information we will be capturing as we capture, build, and share these tutorials: static images (screencapture); or video walkthroughs (screencasts).

What is a screencapture or screencast?

Screencasts or screencaptures can be used to direct students to a particular web environment, showing them how to navigate and interact with the environment. As example of this is a video embedded below that I use to show my students and colleagues how to use Google Presentation for a class assignment.

Screencaptures. A screencapture is a static image taken of your computer screen. You can annotate this image and share it out with others by attaching it to an email, or better yet…embedding it on your website.

Previously I was a big fan of Jing. Jing is a free Web 2.0 tool that can capture and annotate images, or capture video walkthroughs on your PC or Mac. The Jing page will give you information as to how to sign up for, install, and share Jing products…as well as using it with You can still download and use Jing for the most part. Take a look at the video below to see it in action.

You can also use products like Skitch if you plan on just grabbing and annotating images, or screencaptures from the Internet. Skitch is my tool of choice. It’s owned by Evernote and automatically is saved in my Evernote notebooks. I love the options for annotation and prefer it to some of the other tools. Skitch works on Mac, PC, iOs, and Android. Please keep in mind that I’m always looking for new tools or processes. Even with this constant searching, Skitch usually suits my needs. Take a look at how I use Skitch below.

Screencasts. Screencasts are video walkthroughs of content on your screen. Screencaptures can be great teaching and learning materials…but you need to stitch a bunch together and add text for longer form directions. For these use cases, I recommend recording a screencast. Screencasts can be used as a lecture capture tool (e. g., Tegrity), or as a means to capture instructor think-alouds to scaffold students as they work in online and offline spaces.

At this point, I’m primarily using Screencast-o-matic. I used Jing for most of my screencasting in the past and then moved on to Screencast-o-matic after Jing was deprecated. I’ve been experimenting (and recommend that you experiment) with the TechSmith Snagit Chrome Extension…especially on Chromebooks. But, for now, Screencast-o-matic is my primary option.

Screencast-0-matic is free. They do offer a $15 a year Pro option that I usually subscribe to. It is a small program that you download on your Mac or PC and it will record the frame that you identify on your display. After recording, I usually upload directly to YouTube and edit/share from there. Take a look at the video below to see an overview of Screencast-o-matic.

Screencapture/screencast as assessment

Screencasts can be used to provide video or audio feedback on assessments for students. As an example, they can be used to record instructor, or peer feedback on an assignment.
Screencasts can be used by students to have them create screencasts or screencaptures in which they document their learning.

Screencapture/screencast in research

Screencasts can be used to capture interview data in which the participant is allowed to access online information, or use a computer. An example of this is from my dissertation and the pilot study in which interviews of students were conducted using the computer. Jing was used to capture this video, allowing students to use the computer to explain decisions made while working online.
Screencasts or screencaptures can be used to grab images or video of online interactions, and then be shared with students either as an assessment, or having them respond to information presented in the assessment. An example of this is the COIL instrument.

What tools do I use?

There are multiple options for making this happen.
As I mentioned up above, Skitch is a fantastic tool (that now is built into Evernote). Skitch will allow you to capture, annotate, edit, and share images from your screen.
I’m a regular user of Screencast-o-matic for screencasts. Recently, I’ve been using the Chrome extension for TechSmith SnagIt. It’s a lightweight, video walkthrough capture tool that will allow you to quickly grab and share images and video online. I also love the fact that it ties right in to your Google Drive account to save and share images/video.
There are other video walkthrough tools that can be used, but will cost you much more than the options above…but they are great products. iShowU is only available on the Mac, whereas Camtasia is available on both Mac and PC. On the Mac you also have the option of using Quicktime to capture video as well.

Want to consider yourself a stellar screencaster?

If you really want to jumpstart your way to screencaster stardom, I recommend checking out these tips on best practices in screencasting…and a quick series of screencasts on zooming and other techniques as you create and document online.


Cover photo by stillframe shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license

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