Use Screencast Video to Connect with Students

Screencasts are short videos that you can create in very little time on your work or home computer and easily share the results with students. Screencast software records your actions on your computer (as you browse the web, for example) and your voice as you explain what you are demonstrating.

Duke faculty are using screencasting to orient students to administrative and academic software, to provide personalized feedback on student work, to create short demos on finding and using resources for research topics, to create subject-specific tutorials integrated in the curriculum and more.

The right choice for you may depend on whether you are a PC or Macintosh user and whether you need a quick or more detailed presentation.


It is relatively easy to get started with free applications such as Jing, You need to download and install Jing.  It allows only five minutes of recording time, produces only one file format and is not editable. Similar applications such as Screenjelly, and Screenr allow you to simply go to the software’s website and press a button to record your screen’s activity and/or voice, then share the file via the web, Twitter or email.

LaTondra Murray in Duke’s Master of Engineering Management (MEM) program uses Jing to capture examples of tools (e.g., Blackboard, ACES, etc.) that can be shared with students before they arrive on campus.

Julie Reynolds uses Jing for seniors who are writing honors theses in Biology. She finds that the visual elements offered by Jing in virtual conferences are more effective for students than if she were to simply write comments in the margins. Jing allows her to highlight passages while she is talking about them, and students can see and hear her comments. The students also use Jing to comment on each others’ papers for peer review.

For more detailed screen recordings, users can get 30-day trials of Camtasia or Captivate to create demonstrations and simulations.


Camtasia offers a free 30-day trial; the Duke Computer Store price for educational use is $179. A Mac version is now available. Camtasia can produce many formats for Windows MediaPlayer, Quicktime Player, RealPlayer, for iPod/iPhone and more.

Melinda Box and Anne Langley (Chemistry) used Camtasia to create a video to teach students how to find chemistry information online. That video allowed the instructors to provide personalized attention to students in class instead of having to do the exact same demonstrations for each of 38 laboratory sections.  Students can refer back to the videos.


Captivate allows you to develop scenarios and simulations for hands-on training. You can include branching and quizzes that can result in different scenario outcomes based on individual student responses.

Captivate has less output format options than Camtasia and being complex, requires a steeper learning curve.  Academic pricing currently is $249.

George (Trey) Turner uses Captivate to create short software tutorials and interactive scenarios in the Clinical Research Management program at the School of Nursing. Audio and the self-documenting feature provided by Captivate allow rapid development of software tutorials. See an example here of one of Trey Turner’s tutorials.


Author: cit-staff