Thursday, January 8, 2009


I've recently taken up screencasting to aid in my teaching. I started with a fully online class I taught last fall and I'm planning to do a lot more of it in an in-person class this spring. I use free software on windows machines (Camstudio) that can record a portion of screen while also recording your voice. It saves the movie as an .avi file (ugh) but then I upload it to google video and they turn it into a flash movie (just like youtube). A few cool things about how I'm using it:
  1. You can set the software to have the region being recorded follow your mouse around.
  2. You can highlight your mouse so it's easier to see.
  3. Google Video does not have a limit on either file size or total number of files uploaded
  4. Google Video has a desktop uploader so you can upload a bunch at a time
  5. Google Video allows you to set the movie as private so only those you give the address to can see it.
In this post I'll talk about how I used it in the fully online class and in a future post I'll talk about how I plan to use it for an in-person class. Homework: In my online class I set up groups that work on hints for the rest of the class on single homework problems. I provide for them the solution to that problem and a screencast of the solution. I simply pull up the pdf scanned copy of the solution and record my voice describing the calculations while pointing at the appropriate sketch/equation/description. The students tell me that they learn much more from that than simply reading the solution as sometimes I'm a little terse with my descriptions and often I skip (trivial?) algebraic steps. Lectures: Each week we cover a chapter in the text. Before the week starts I type up my notes on what I call a Daily outline (here's an example). That system allows me to easily typeset equations, put in Mathematica calculations (that are adjustable on the fly!) and link to any animations I've made. I also put in links to other cool descriptions. Then I make a screencast of the page (see below for that same example) where I can fill in the details and walk the students through any external links.

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