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: