What Can Camtasia Do for You?

As mentioned in Purdue Today, the University has purchased a site license for TechSmith’s all-in-one screen recording and editing software Camtasia.  It is already available for personal installation for most full-time faculty and staff who request it, and soon it will be available in every ITaP lab on Purdue’s West Lafayette campus for faculty, staff, and student use.  A Camtasia plug-in will also be installed in PowerPoint on those computers, allowing users to easily create recordings of presentations with audio, slides, and even a webcam if desired.  Camtasia will be replacing Adobe Presenter on ITaP supported machines.

Windows and Mac versions

Purdue’s license of Camtasia includes both Windows and Mac versions of the software.  It is important to note, however, the Windows version is an older and more robust product than the Mac version.  While core recording and editing capabilities are available in both versions, the user-interface and features are very different.   I must also mention that movie projects are not easily transferrable between the Windows and Mac products.   This compatibility issue only affects the editable project files, therefore it is recommend to only create camera recordings and edit them on the same operating system.  The final video product can then be saved in a non-editable video format (such as mp4) that will play across platforms.

Brief Overview of Key Features

Camtasia’s best feature is its ease of use. The entire computer screen, or a small selection of the screen, can be quickly recorded with a couple clicks of the mouse.  It is also very easy to add audio narration and an external video source (such as a webcam).  Once the recording has been created, it can be immediately produced into a sharable video file, or it can be modified with Camtasia’s full-featured editing studio.  The editing pane allows the user to make cuts, zoom and pan the recording, add other media clips, and even include assessments.  Camtasia also allows the importing of existing media clips, so it can be used purely as a video editor.

Share your Movies

After finishing the movie project, there are a variety of ways to share your video.  TechSmith offers a free 2 GB of storage and bandwidth if you sign up for a ScreenCast account.  This is useful if you need to share unrestricted video content to others who may not have access to Blackboard.  Camtasia also supports direct uploads to YouTube if you link your account in the program.  Finally, Camtasia also supports creating video files that can be uploaded into Kaltura (Purdue’s video storage solution) and shared in Blackboard.  

Assessing Students

One last feature worth mentioning is Camtasia’s ability to create videos that include various assessment features.  For example, instructors can integrate videos in Blackboard in such a way that students can be awarded points based upon their completion of a video.  For more targeted assessment, Camtasia also supports limited quizzing (multiple choice, short answer) during a video that can be scored and added into the Blackboard gradebook.  As always with this type of assessment, I’d advise caution and reflection on its implementation, but it may make sense for instructors who want to tie some sort of low-stakes assessment with a student’s online participation.  

Upcoming Camtasia Events

In the coming weeks and months, ITaP will be hosting several Camtasia events.  Starting the week of August 12th, we will be providing hands-on training workshops for those who wish to become better acquainted with the tool.  You can view and sign up for these workshops by visiting our training calendar.  We are currently developing training documents for those workshops as well as stand-alone documents and videos that will be available online around that date.  We will cover some basic Camtasia usage as well as how to integrate it with the systems we use at Purdue (Blackboard, Kaltura, etc).  TechSmith has also created their own tutorials for Camtasia (Windows and Mac), which are pretty in-depth and useful.

This is an exciting piece of software for teaching and learning, and I look forward to finding out about all of the creative and useful ways it will be implemented on campus.

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