Screencasting Solutions On A Budget

As educators, we are always on a tight budget.  So when it comes to extras like screencasting (recording your computer’s screen) software, Free is the right price.  I just finished testing four solutions for screencasting ScreenToaster, Screencast-0-matic, Jing and CamTwist (mac only) and have decided the winner is Screencast-o-matic.

My criteria were 1) runs on my mac (but PC/Mac solutions OK too), 2) good resolution of final files, 3) download file for later use 4) easy to use.

ScreenToaster – This is an online solution that will work on any computer with Flash.  The resolution of the files is pretty good, but you can’t download the files for offline use.  And you have to register for the Beta, which took 24 hours.  (2.5 stars)

Screencast-o-matic – This is also an online solution.  The name is bad, but the flash package is super simple to use.  The files can be saved as .mov (quicktime) files for later use.  The resolution is great and can be set to 3 different levels.  Works on Mac or PC.  I recommend getting a full version of quicktime to easily edit the files and crop out mistakes.  (5 stars)

Jing – This is a software solution and the most professional looking.  The interface is weird (on Mac anyway) I would suggest watching the how to video and adding it to your title bar.  It can be used online or offline.  But the files do not share well offline because they are kept in the Jing browser.  The broswer is nice looking and the quality is good.  Jing has great controls for starting, stopping and pausing.  The only thing Jing lacks is a standard file format like .mov or .flv for sharing.  (4 stars)

CamTwist – This is a Mac only solution and easily has the worst resolution.  The files are very blurry.  It is also clunky to use and requires Quicktime for recording.  The worst of the bunch, but it does not require internet access to use.  (1.5 starts)

I think I will use both Screencast-o-matic and Jing as solutions depending on if I have internet access or not.


I forgot to add iShowU (Mac only), but I have not tested this myself – only seen an example on YouTube.  It is also not free – it costs $20-$60 US depending on which of the three versions you choose.

Cool Links 18: Ninja Edition

Several of my students in my web design class have been telling me about Ask A Ninja, but that is not what today’s links are aobut.

1  – Grammar Ninja:  Fun with nouns and verbs.  Ninjas are super cool right now and it amps up your cred as a fun teacher. Plus the kids might actually learn something.

2 – Pic Lits:  Is like those magnetic word sets with photos.  Great for caption writing excersises.  Gives kids a word bank to start with.  Then you can take them to the next level.

3 – DPS – Digital Photography School has a mini-photo syllabus of 21 Things Every Camera Owner Should Know.

4 – Also from DPS, are Nine Mistakes Photogrpahers Make When Working With Web Designers, but I would say they are mistakes they might make with any client.  Good for students to see that pros have standards if they want to make money at this.

5 – The Blog Readability Test is a cool tool to see what your writing level is for your audience.  If you have an online newspaper, it would work to see where the writing level is there too.  Here’s mine – kinda sad 😦

blog readability test

Wicked Cool Podcastin’

I just finished being a guest of sorts on the Wicked Decent Learning podcast.  Jeff and Dan, the hosts decided a couple of episodes ago to do a “call in” show via Skype.  I’d never actually tried Skype before.  It is dirt simple.  I got a Tweet from Dan that the podcast had started.

I decided what the heck, I jumped on to Google and found Skype’s site, downloaded the client (took about 4 min. via DSL) and launched it.  It did take about 2-3 min. to get a user name (easy) and then to find Wicked Decent Learning (moderate difficulty).

But once on, I was in the chat and Dan texted me through the steps to keep my mic muted.  Finally, it was my turn and I got to ask a few questions.  It was pretty cool.  Those of us not in the “radio” discussion could comment via text or have a side conversation (text).  It was a really cool way to do a radio style call in show.  I think the guys pulled it off.  I’ll be waiting to hear the whole show – eps. 51 or 52, I’m not sure.  Check out their blog and subscribe to them via iTunes.

Update: Episode 51 is up on their site, you can click here to access their audio file (Quicktime) right on their blog.  And I don’t sound like a total idiot!  Jeff and Dan are great as always.

It’s Golden…I Mean It Rules

I ran across a cool tool for photographers who want to apply the rule of thirds or the golden mean (fibonacci spiral) to a photograph.  The Java Script one above did not work for me on the Mac, but this one did.  You will need a Flickr account or some other image host to post your photos online first.

Great Guide For Fair Use

Center For Social Media Fair Use Video

Center For Social Media Fair Use Video

Good little video about what a teacher can or cannot do under “Fair Use” rules in the classroom.  Gets better around 2:00 min. into the video.

Man on The Street Interviews With A Purpose

I haven’t done a man on the street interview lesson with my broadcast kids because I didn’t have a good example to show them how to do it right.  I was too worried they would just pick their friends and the footage would be a waste of time and camcorder batteries.

The Culture Lab blog has a great idea for focusing interviews about trends and how the current economy will affect youth buying.  Great Idea.

What You Want: End of The Year Blog Analytics

Give ’em what they want.  That is the mandate of most news sites, sure give ’em the news, but watch your analytics and give the reader what they like to keep ’em coming back.

So, like a good blogger, I watch my anaylytics almost daily to see what’s hot and what’s not.  But at the end of the year, I always want to see what did well.

This year my readers liked my yearbook ladder template, they loved lists here and here, and they liked my photojournalism syllabus.  Meets a need and fun entertainment.  OK.

Some of the things you found click worthy were a copy editing test, my amazon store, and a powerpoint about the golden mean.

Not surprisingly, the search terms that led many to my blog were teacher/journalism movies, yearbook ladder, yearbook and teleprompter.

My top referrers for the year are nearly all friends, except for wordpress referrals  and here they are in order:

Cool Links 17: Ho-Ho-Ho Holiday Edition

1 – This is really long, so after you watch 2-3 verses you can cut it off, but it is worth a laugh (or not).

2 – Trailer for Stop The Presses documentary.

3 – From 10,000 Words blog here are 25 Things That He Has Learned About Journalism.

4 – The Week In Rap is a funny, but informative Rap mashup of the week’s headlines.  This could be useful in a video or broadcasting class.

5 – For the Web Design teachers who are teaching Web Standards and web usability, here’s a fun video about the WCAG web standard for disabled use.

6 – A really good, but not free, screencast tool (Mac OSX only) called iShowU.  This tool is one of the cleanest screencasts I’ve ever seen.  Check it out.

7 – Finally here is a Gender Analyzer for your website.  Mine came up as 54 percent male.  Ouch.

Cool Links #16: Nearly Christmas Treats, Low Calorie Version

With all the Christmasing going on out there, and all the baking and of course eating – I’m providing some Link treats that are low calorie, actually no calorie.

1 – Nugget number one is just a graphic that I found appropriate.

Film joins the analog retirement club.

Film joins the analog retirement club.

2 – If you teach a language course or if, like me, you teach a web design class, then you may have wondered what do you call these {} things.  Why they are braces or informally curly brackets of course.  Wikipedia has a great page with most English punctuation and those used on the web.

3 – This one is a double treat for Tweeters or the Tweeple.  First is an online database of journalists who Tweet (use Twitter) and the second one is We The Tweeple, a source for seeing if your congressional representatives use Twitter.

4 – For web design teachers, there is a great tool for turning excel tables into HTML tables called TABLEIZER!. Try it out.

5 – OK, I said low calorie – but if you copy this one it will be high calorie. The Flickr photo won’t link, but you’ve got to check out this camera cake for yourself.

6 – I know this list is turning into a web design-a-polooza, but here are 15 Super CSS Tricks & Tips that I have found very useful.

7 – The Daily Show definitely has newspaper’s number.

The Daily Show Owns Newspapers

The Daily Show Owns Newspapers

8 – This is a great story about how just looking for great visuals can lead you to a great story.

9 – Video 2 Zero blog has an interesting study about the best length for web video.  Their findins 2.5 minutes.

10 –

You Tube a shared culture by Creative Commons.

Enjoy – still more to come.

Cool Links #15: OMG It’s Been A Long While…

I have seven pages of links in my read later list.  I’ve been too busy to post cool links for a while.  Sorry about that, but I’ve got a lot of days off coming up to post them in chunks.

1- has a really good, in depth guide for taking portrait photos.  The guide covers a lot of ground and would be useful when teaching it to photojournalism kids.

2 – Do you know how to mashup an RSS feed and use CSS to post it to a wiki?  If you are confused by the last sentence, then 10,ooo Words blog has a useful post on Web 2.0/3.o terms.

3 – For broadcasting teachers and students, there will always be those times when you run into a name you just don’t know how to say – How To Say That Name is the site to find out how.  Native speakers of Spanish, English, several Asian languages and more will speak the name, so you can say it right.

4 – In the same category as number 3, is Daily Writing Tips 50 Incorrect Pronounciations That You Should Avoid.  These are words that so many people say wrong, but journalists need to say right.  My fav is ATH-A-LETE (wrong).  But maybe they should have done a mashup with HowJSay, so it would be auditory, not just visual.

5 – The University of Texas has a great resource for Copyright Law that includes both Fair Use for journalists and teachers.

6 – Rob Curley has a interesting post about what works on the Internet and how it applies to newspapers or anything else on the ‘Net.  Four of his Five P’s are a great starting point for where the industry should be going online.

7 – If you teach web design or any other Internet related course, then The Common Craft Show should be in your RSS reader.  They have a bevy of great videos that explain the hard to explain web stuff in plain English.

8 – Someone just sent you an unreadable document (like MS Publisher) and you don’t know what to do with it.  Try Doc2PDF – it turns lots of documents into PDFs that every computer use can read.  Simple.  And Free!

9 – But if you want to use the file afterward (lets say it is a .docx file that you want to make into a .doc) then try Zamzar.  This free resource actually converts it. All you need is an email address.

10 – While we still have printed newspapers, this graphic generator will be fun it makes fake newspaper headlines and stories.  You provide the copy.

More to come in the next day or two.