A screencast is a digital recording of computer screen output, also known as a video screen capture that can be accompanied by audio narration and music and written descriptions. A screencast is essentially a movie of the changes over time that a user sees on a computer screen, enhanced with audio narration.
A number of companies provide software solutions for creating screencasts with varying degrees of functionality and price, including Adobe Captivate, Camtasia and Jing.
The most comprehensive screencasting software is provided by Adobe Captivate. This solution allows not only the creation of screencasts but also a whole variety of other interactive e-learning content. With Captivate, existing Microsoft PowerPoint presentations can be easily adapted and made more engaging with rich media, application simulations, branching scenarios and quizzes. Furthermore, it allows monitoring student progress by embedding a wide variety of interactive ‘test me’ quizzes in the content.
After selecting the type of content to create and the audio features, the recording starts and every action within the selected windows will be recorded and a movie be created. An example of the options available is presented in Figure 19.
Figure 19: Adobe Captivate project options
After selecting the type of content to be created, the software builds and edits interactive software demonstrations, simulations, podcasts, screencasts, program demos and lessons with no programming or multimedia skills required. An example of a demonstration is presented in Figure 20.
Figure 20: Example of a Screencast demonstration
One of the main advantages of screencasts is the ability to answer common students’ queries in a dynamic, step-by-step fashion that avoids having to repeat the same explanation a large number of times. Students can see the screencast as many times as they wish and decide on the ideal pace to follow the explanation. The screencasts are also a powerful tool for revision and for catch-up if a student misses a lecture or tutorial.
 There is a shorter, free version of Jing which might be useful for the uninitiated to explore.