Math screencasting – tools I use

It’s been several years now that I have been adding articles and videos to Mathbootcamps and there has been quite a learning curve as far as best practices and tools of the trade. After starting to teach online courses, it became even more important to have a “system” and I can finally say that I am happy with my full setup! In this post, I will talk about the tools that I am currently using the produce my screencasts.

Software

Camstudio – this is my screencasting software of choice. This is 100% free and works as well as the $600 solutions I have seen elsewhere. The only real trouble can come from making very long videos. If your video is over 2 gigs (hard to do, but possible), this will simply not save the file. But, a good practice is to keep your videos short (not something I am always good at!) so this is a nonissue to me.

Zoomit64 – this is a free tool from microsoft that allows you to write on the screen of any windows computer. Prince George’s Community College has a really nice cheat sheet for working with it including shortcut keys (you want to know these!).

Powerpoint (or other presentation software) – Of course, there are plenty of other tools out there for making presentations. This is more of a familiarity thing for me as I can work with it quickly. In this case you could really use any tool. You just need a way to show some of the math that you are talking about onto the screen for recording etc.

TI-Smartview – this lets me show the calculator and buttons full screen (example). Another option would be to simply film the calculator but this looks much nicer in the end product. You just have to be careful – the 2 gig limit with camstudio will come up quickly here (I would say more than ~5 mins with the calculator at full screen is too long).

Hardware

Headset – while there are many fancier ones out there, I am currently using this 10 year old+ cyber acoustics headset. Personally, I find that I like having one ear open so I can hear myself better when recording.

my_headset

 

In other words, you don’t have to go really crazy with the quality here. For our applications, you simply need something that will pick your voice up clearly. The adjustable mic is very important though because you want to maneuver this to avoid air bursts (pops when you say something that starts with “p” for instance) and so that we don’t hear your breathing in between every word!

Writing Pad – this is probably the biggest investment you will have to make. I have used the “cheap” $80 version for years and had no trouble. I did purchase the more expensive bamboo tablet and found that it was somewhat less responsive (perhaps it is better for art?). These are also nice to have laying around if you do a lot of math writing in word since mathtype now works decently with the math input panel.

That’s really it! Not a huge setup and it has allowed me to make a TON of videos at this point. You can see examples of what Ive made with this setup here: https://www.youtube.com/user/MathBootcamps/videos.

 

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