Monday, April 06, 2009

ScreenCastle Wins Round One

Just when I was ready to recommend ScreenToaster (a couple of months ago) as a slick browser-based (no download) way to make screencasts, I ran into a problem. Today I tried the new kid on the block, ScreenCastle.

The assignment that I was trying to illustrate with ScreenToaster was the possibility of having a student make a screen recording of how they created a chart using Microsoft Excel. I remember teaching those classes years ago where the students had to turn in a paper copy of their completed chart. Seems to me that this is the same question that is raised all the time about distance learning - "how do I know that Billy Bob is really the person who made that great chart and that somebody else didn't do it for him and now he's just turning in the printout?" or some other long run-on question like that.

By having the students make a screencast of their work they would be able to talk through the steps that they completed. However, to avoid technical problems I really didn't want to have all the students download and install something like CamStudio or Jing. Instead, using a browser-based recorder that is simply click-talk-click would be a better alternative.

Here is the example of this using ScreenCastle. This was my first take and the first time I used Screencastle.



That seems to work pretty well. After you record the screencast, they give you various options for getting the code to the video. Still trying to figure out whether that is a one-shot offer, or if I can easily get those same codes later on. Here is the link to the recording at Screencastle. You don't even create an account at Screencastle so there is no way of associating the screencasts with the creator. In other words, if I can't find the link (now I can in this post, but what about a student who has created a screencast and then closed that page?), I might not be able to find the screencast again.

After it worked successfully with Screencastle, I decided to do exactly the same thing with ScreenToaster. I once again made the chart in Excel. Click on the link below to see the totally unsatisfactory result. This is the same result that I saw a month or two ago.

Here's the lousy Screentoaster version of the same chart making exercise. (Yes, I really did make the chart, you just don't get to see it.)

There are certain things that I really like about ScreenToaster. If they continue to improve their service I have no doubt that it can be a player in this screencating space. One thing I don't like is how your choices go away after recording the screencast. For example, you have the choice to upload (high quality, they say) to ScreenToaster or to upload directly into YouTube. I wanted to do both, however, after uploading to ScreenToaster I was no longer able to upload to YouTube.

BTW, Screencast-o-matic is another browser-only tool in this space, and it works pretty well.

1 comment:

Stefan said...

Hi,

about "Still trying to figure out whether that is a one-shot offer, or if I can easily get those same codes later on."

There is a link to the codes on every watch page (bottom right corner) which says "Use this screencast". Click it and you will see the codes again.
You can try it for your own video at http://screencastle.com/watch/f18b8253c84be1146f4af17ed659bd3d

Kind regards,
Stefan