Learning to use Camtasia

In building up evidence of my learning and development in the competency of using technology in elearning, I decided to have a go at producing a screencast – a short digital video using software that captures your computer screen and can also record an accompanying audio track.

Camtasia Studio software

I followed a link that Ian had posted to our tutor group forum for Camtasia at www.techsmith.com. I chose the option to download a free 30-day trial of the software and easily loaded it onto my netbook. The only problem is that I don’t have very much space on my netbook, so it is struggling a bit to run it . . . There are other screencast technologies, including JingCaptivate and Screenr.

The welcome email I received had links to some really useful ‘getting started’ tutorials on the website, so I started to work my way through them and I’d recommend doing so as they are short and very clear – this instant help and guidance really appealed to my slightly technophobe self. After the first one I was really keen to record something, so with very little preparation I started a short recording on how to create a new blog post on my WordPress blog.

Take One

Unfortunately, I soon realised that my inbuilt microphone was really not able to record at a reasonable quality to be used on the video, plus a very annoying cough that I’ve developed since Christmas also meant audio was not a good idea! I was disappointed as I’m always a bit reluctant to try out new technology, as I find it so irritating when something doesn’t go according to plan. Anyway, I managed to borrow a headset with microphone to give it another go, hoping the audio will be improved . . . .

Take Two

Unfortunately the headset didn’t help with the audio, so I decided to learn how to add captions to my screens as an alternative way to ‘narrate’ my recording. I also decided to simplify my first attempt by changing it to a demonstration of the outputs I produced for one of the course activities on developing a PDP needs analysis grid – imagining an audience of new students just starting out on H808, to give them an insight into the evidence you can create for your eportfolio from an activity.

I was organised, having all the relevant screens open on my computer, and although I wasn’t recording audio I did talk to myself as I did the screen recording – funnily enough this has meant that I tended to move my cursor around the screen a lot whilst recording, so the end result has a bit of a ‘busy bee’ cursor buzzing across the screen all the time!

The end result
From watching all the ‘getting started’ tutorials I was able to edit my first attempt to a very short 1.5 minutes. I realised that what seemed like a long screen shot to me, because I’d become so familiar with it, wasn’t actually that long so I think I may have over-edited . . . the ending is rather abrupt. It certainly is a very basic first attempt . . . but gave me plenty of insights into how this technology could be used and how to do it better next time! You can view it here.

Learning so far:

  • Check your computer has sufficient power to be able to run the new software
  • Check your audio input to see if the quality is good enough
  •  Be prepared before you start recording, with relevant windows open on your computer
  •  A short script or prompt notes will help to create a relatively structured video
  • If you make a mistake keep going, you can edit it out afterwards
  •  Once recorded save your recording file before opening as a project file which is where you do your editing etc.
  • Take time to edit and take time to review the whole file before making too many edits
  • The software is functionality rich, so take time to view the tutorials and don’t try to run before you can walk!
  • Don’t underestimate how long it can take to create a short recording when starting out – I must have spent over 3 hours for just a one minute output!

Proposals for using screen cast technologies in education:

This technology lends itself to supporting students, particularly distance learners, with the strength of visual and audio components and as I found, the possibility to add text, which also benefits those who are not able to utilise the audio output.

One example is the use of screencasts for technical specialties, where a visual demonstration can really aid understanding. I read a short article by Peterson (2007) describing how the use of screencasts helped to demonstrate the use of an online database, having identified that distance students were not using it to the full extent that they needed to.

It could be possible to use screencast technology to provide feedback on an assessment, e.g. for a written assessment or eportfolio assessment, combining audio feedback with visuals capturing the relevant screens and areas being discussed. A screencast could also be used to demonstrate solutions to formative assessment questions in subject areas such as mathematics.

Students can use screencasts as an output to demonstrate their learning and development, creating evidence for an eportfolio as well as developing their competencies with technology.

A web search will provide you with access to a variety of online resources for different screencasting technologies and also examples of how they are being used in education. I am hopeful that once you’ve mastered the technology it can provide very engaging learning assets, although possibly time-consuming to produce to begin with!


Mangieri, J. (2009) ‘Using Screencasting to Engage and Build Communities with Online Learners’ (online), Faculty Focus. Available at: http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/online-education/using-screencasting-to-engage-and-build-community-with-online-learners/ (Accessed 8 January 2012).

Peterson, E. (2007) ‘Incorporating Screencasts in Online Education’ (online), The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, vol 8, no.3. Available from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/viewArticle/495/935 (accessed 8 January 2012).

Screencasts and Education post on The Screening Room blog

How to use Screenr post on the The Rapid eLearning Blog


About Mel B

Living in the English Lake District enjoying the great outdoors.
This entry was posted in communication skills, H808, practice-related skills, reflection, technology skills, Unit 8. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Learning to use Camtasia

  1. Valeria Edgar-nevill says:

    It sounds like you have had a very busy day —
    the end result is interesting,
    it took a little while to download on my machine but then it is full of all sorts of odd bits of software.As you suggested I think it would have value as part of the feedback process for D/L students taking maths or science type subjects,
    It did move too fast for me to really take it all in but that is inkeeping with your own feelings on the editing.
    Well done, great first attempt

  2. heidiallen says:

    This is really good. Wish I had known this when I first started out. a 1.5min clip takes aaaages. I use screenflow – for macs. Camtasia at that point was only for PCs but I think it’s for mac and pc now. Really helpful. Thanks

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