Screen Recording Software

One of the issues that seem to have been with us since the dawn of time is the issue of pupils not remembering how to operate software to complete the required tasks. This is particularly so in ICT, when the software is often new to the pupils and without this initial intro, things are in danger of grinding to an early halt. I’d guess I wouldn’t be too far adrift to assume that most teachers will introduce a new piece of software with a whole-class demo, run through it couple of times and then set the  pupils their activity.

I realise they’ll come a point with some software when the pupils will know it enough to dispense with the demo, or it’ll be sufficiently familiar to a similar title that they can ‘figure it out for themselves’ but I don’t we’re dispensing with the software demo phase totally in the near future.

Anyway, one of my many inner tussles is finding a better way of dealing with those pupils that needs a reminder of ‘how to’ without me needing to do the reminding on a regular basis as this distracts me from my core purpose. I could, and do, use other pupils, but again, if we’re not careful, they too can end up end up too long off the set task.

Enter Screencast-O- Matic.  Leaving aside the fact that it sounds like a launderette, I’m finding it an increasingly useful tool for creating software demonstrations that can be referred to by pupils as and when.  It’s not the only screen recording tool out there, but it’s the one I find easiest to use.  It’s free, but I’ve stumped up  $15 per year for the pro version that allows me extra features: no adverts, password protection, offline recording and few more I’ve yet to explore.

The finished screenshots can be uploaded to their site in the free version or to other places if you pay. The paid option also allows you to keep local copies to park on the school network if you prefer. In addition, finished videos can be linked to, or embedded into your web site, blog or Learning Platform.  Click here for both methods on display.

It sounds great, but are there drawbacks? Well, yes. It’s IT, of course there are and I’d be doing you a disservice if I didn’t highlight the drawbacks. I read too many blogs where everything just works splendidly and nothing ever goes wrong. I wish.

  • Your pupils will need training to make referring to the videos the default position. I’m still amazed/surprised/depressed, by how many still try and turn to me for a reminder rather my videos.  We’ll get there, just a tad more slowly than I thought.
  • SoM uses Java, so you’ll need that  on your laptop/desktop/tablet to create videos. I’m afraid I can’t give a definitive list of what it will and won’t work on. I’ve used my Windows laptop for all my videos so far because: some software I’ve made clips for is only on Windows (Junior Control Insight- videos here) or s  on the web, so I used my laptop as it’s convenient. I’ve tried using it on my iPad, but no joy as of yet. Visited a few forums> got conflicting advice> got confused>Time Out!  However, a workaround to this is to mirror your iPad to your Mac and use the esktop to redord. Click here for a 2 min video.

Those are the only two I’ve come across so far, but if I encounter others, I’ll update this post.

So, is it worth doing? Well, long term I’m sure it will be. The resources will be there for the next group and also for my work in other schools and for you.  Also I’m determined to move towards more independence for this sort of skills boost activity and should those Ofsted folk come calling.. and they probably will this year, I’d like to be further down the road to to meeting their criteria outstanding.

for a quick overview of Screencast-O-Matic, click here.

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