Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Killing two birds with one stone

I'm being a bit cheeky here, or looking at it another way, I'm just being sensible. In any event, I'm basically trying to kill two birds with one stone. In H807 this week we have been asked to evaluate the usability of a technology or web-based resource. At the same time, I am currently involved in a JISC sponsored programme to produce Open Resources for Built Environment Education (ORBEE). My involvement is to produce three learning packages in the field of Building Adaptation and Conservation, which is one of my specialist areas.

For the ORBEE project I would like to incorporate some screencasts in the online resources so I have been experimenting with free online screencast services. In an earlier blog I had a go with screenr which was quite successful, but the screencast length is limited to 5 minutes. One of my fellow students on H807 (thanks, Karl) drew my attention to Screencast-o-matic. Despite the awful name it's actually a very useful, free service which allows users to produce instant screencasts of up to 15 minutes' duration.

It took me three attempts to get this right and it's still fairly crude, but I have to admit that it's a really easy tool to use. All I've done is to use PowerPoint with a voiceover to describe an animated graph. To anyone not interested in the subject I have no doubt that it will be incredibly boring, but it does relate directly to the work I've been preparing for the ORBEE project so, from a purely personal point of view, it's been helpful.

Screencasts can be uploaded directly to YouTube, and then embedded in a website or blog as I've done here. There is no need to download any software, and you can start recording your screencast within seconds of opening the webpage. You don't even need to log in or sign up for anything.

Anyway, here's the screencast, though I won't expect many people to be actually interested in it:

I won't include my notes about the usability of the technology here, as we've asked to post them directly on the H807 tutor group forum.


  1. It had never occurred to me that buildings could perform. You really do learn something every day!! :)

  2. Thanks for the comment, Carolyn - I hope it wasn't too boring! By the way - I've just discovered your blog via a Tweet from you. It looks really good, and I've added it to my Google Reader feed.

  3. Found your example interesting for 3 reasons - (a) I'm considering screen casting technology to produce an inexpensive promotional clip(b) your use here as a mini online lecture and (c) lastly, because i'm working in the e&c industry myself. on all three counts, very well executed!

  4. Not at all boring. In fact will recommend this to the English for Engineers teacher - great crisp sound, interesting and very useful!