Archive for the ‘Camtasia’ Category

Producing in Camtasia for YouTube


The Visual Lounge blog pointed me to two Bill Myers videos on how to produce from Camtasia to YouTube with good quality. Here they are!

I’ve produced a few videos for YouTube, but only one on math (and it was an experiment to see what kind of quality I could get – not great). Although I much prefer the quality and video-length I get with Screencast, the advantage to using YouTube is that I wouldn’t have to pay for my own hosting. If a publicly-available Screencast video became popular, I could easily end up blowing all my download bandwidth for the month. During my peak month of calculus video usage, I did hit 25 GB download on the day before the end of the month – and those videos are (mostly) only available through links in a password-protected LMS.

The other major YouTube issue is that of ownership. If I post a video to YouTube, is it still my video or does it now belong to YouTube? I haven’t been sure, and so I haven’t posted much. But I did go looking for an answer to this question tonight, and I found a nice video by Michael Miller on the subject (yes, a YouTube video):

So, lately I’ve been contemplating the project of reproducing some of the calculus videos in shorter bursts for YouTube. I’ve also been contemplating some other kinds of tutorials on using WebAssign, MathType, Windows Journal, etc.

On a side note, I think I would get a lot more stuff like this done if I had a permanent full-time personal assistant. I tried to convince my husband to quit his job and be my assistant instead, but I don’t think he liked the idea of working for me. If nothing else, the mere suggestion that he work for me will likely keep him working in his banking job for a while (don’t know if you’re aware, but work in the banking industry is a miserable life right now).

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Removing Background Noise in Camtasia


If you use Camtasia, you probably know, somewhere in the back of your mind, that you can adjust the audio in recorded videos. I’ve known it for months, but haven’t actually messed around with it until I needed to reproduce a whole bunch of videos to be more compatible with Flash 9.

As I listened to some of my old videos, watching my learning about video recording progress in accelerated time as my videos progressed through the semester. During this reproduction process, I discovered that the audio level and quality varied greatly in the lessons. Some were recorded at home on my porch, some in hotels with loud air conditioners, etc. When I hit a particularly bad one (click here if you really want to hear it), I decided that the time had come to learn how to remove those background noises.

It’s actually pretty easy. Here’s my tutorial. And here’s the Techsmith Learning Center page for this topic.

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Big Red Cursors for your Tablet or Video Lessons


This is a video from Bill Myers that shows you how to install some big red cursors and pointers for making videos to make it easier to track the mouse. Here’s the link to the download for the cursors.

I’m not sure he was thinking about this intent in the video, but it seems that these cursors would also work well for projecting from a tablet, when it can ALSO be difficult for students to track the mouse.

I found this on the TechSmith Visual Lounge Blog, which always has some nice stuff.

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Activating the Yellow Cursor Dot


Many readers have asked how to activate the yellow cursor dot that appears in many of the videos that I record in camtasia studio. Here’s how.

First, open Camtasia and under Tools, bring up the Camtasia Recorder. In the recorder, go to the Effects menu and choose Options.

In Options, click on the Cursor tab, and then choose the cursor option that you would like. Personally, I like “Circle” but there are certainly many other options.

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Even better than the "live" version?


When I left class on Tuesday – I just didn’t feel like I had gotten class “right” that morning. I had tried to use the commenting tools in Word, but with the recording software running, the screen kept flickering. I walked into class thinking that the worksheets I was about to use were tied directly to the animations I wanted to show, but I mis-recalled which set of problems were correlated. Although it was certainly a respecatble day of class, it wasn’t what I had hoped it would be.

Here’s where the real beauty of the digital age comes in. Last night I sat down to edit and produce the videos from the “live” class for the online class, and it gave me the opportunity to tweak class and include everything I wished I had done. What’s interesting to me, is that the final product of my “so-so” day of class may actually be better than most of the intentional videos I have set out to create.

Because I felt so unorganized while I made the videos live in the classroom, I spent extra time on the editing. On a whim I began adding callouts to indicate student questions. These are not normally picked up on my headset, and I make sure to repeat or rephrase each question out loud, but then I liked the “effect” of the callouts on the video lesson. It occurred to me that some of the normal classroom banter between students and between myself and the students might liven up the videos and make the online students feel like more of a classroom space.

I added video clips of pictures and animations that I wish I had included in class. I added video clips of animations I didn’t find until AFTER class. I added transitions between class segments and video segments. Here’s one of the produced videos.

In the process of editing the unorganized jumble that was my Tuesday class, I began to see what had gone wrong on Tuesday and come up with some strategies for improving class on Thursday.

    • Blank Pages File: I really like the Windows Journal platform for doing live classroom examples. It’s easy to use and the pen tool, eraser, highlighter, and color palette are all easy to access. My students have been able to dive right in and become users as well. When I tried to switch to the Word pen tools, I was unable to find tools that I needed and the platform flickering was annoying. The only problem I have with Windows Journal is that when you insert new pages, they always are placed ABOVE the page you just worked on. I don’t want them ABOVE, I want them BELOW. This always creates problems in class – enter… brilliant idea! Create a blank pages file with nothing but 20 blank pages with extra space inserted on each page. Now in class, I can open the blank pages file, use it to do examples, and I have an large supply of blank pages to work on without having to take the time to mess with the program. Much more organized.
    • Pre-pasted Material: When I’m running in the tablet mode, it’s difficult to access programs like SnagIt (several menu clicks instead of the one keypress that I’m used to – they’ve spoiled me). I was spending class time snagging, copying, and pasting examples and graphs from their native files into Windows Journal so that I could draw on them and annotate them. This solution should have been obvious from day one – I need to do all this prep work before class. But… I should only have to do it once, and save the file. If I save the file without the additional annotation, I can use it again in another semester.

  • Lessons Learned: This was one part of class that (in retrospect) did go well on Tuesday. After students worked on the board on a solid volume calculation (circular base, equilateral triangle cross sections), I had them go back to their seats and I asked them (with the mic on) what lessons they had learned from the activity. This is insight that students gain from each other, but may not necessarily get passed on in an online environment from student to student because of the difficulty with live student interaction. Using the callouts, I was able to show the “lessons learned” that each student had contributed before we completed the problem together.

  • Pre-recorded Animation Clips: On my last blog post, you saw one of these – the short clip that included the Wolfram Demonstration together with the Sydney Opera House. I had been pulling up those demos live in class, which would be appropriate for some types of problems, but it can waste a few minutes of class time finding the websites that you want to go to and waiting for them to load. Today in class I used a pre-recorded video on nested shells in the real world that I made using images from the Demos with Postive Impact website (see this example in the video here). Pulling up the prerecorded video, and letting it scroll through the photos and animations, was much easier than trying to find all the photos and links live in class.

This blog post has gotten heinously long – sorry – but that’s what I’ve learned about tablets this week. Today went much better – I felt like my organized self again.

Maybe you’ve got a tip about tablets and classroom organization that you’d like to share?

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TCM eMerging Math Contest


Submit an e-learning math lesson or activity for online learning that you’ve created. You could submit a video lesson, tutorial, interactive graphic, lesson with flash quiz, etc. It does not have to be a lesson for students – it could be something you produced for other faculty to learn from.

Prizes: Cool Techsmith T-Shirts (SnagIt and Camtasia Studio) Example: One says “Take a screenshot… it’ll last longer.”

Award Categories:

  • Reader’s Choice (by voting online)
  • TechSmith’s Choice (chosen by a team of judges at Techsmith)
  • Student’s Choice (chosen by my blended Calculus class)
  • Maria’s Choice (well, it’s my blog after all)
  • Random’s Choice (so that everyone, regardless of submission, has a chance for a t-shirt via random drawing)

Just think… If only five of you submit… you will ALL win a T-Shirt!

How to play: Send me an email with the subject line “TCM eMerging Math Contest” and include the URL to your submission, your name, and email address in the body of the message.

Deadline for submissions: February 6th at midnight (EDT)

Nitty gritty details: Provide your submission with a URL to where the material is hosted. If you have never done this sort of thing before, you can always use Jing to produce a video of up to 5 minutes in length and host it on screencast. I believe that anyone can get a 60-day screencast account with 200MB of storage space for free, so you can all host there if you need to. If you are going to submit a video, please edit the video to be no more than 5 minutes in length.

Please repost this on your blog if you think there might be interested readers.

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Students Starring in Calculus Videos


Today was our review day for the Integration Techniques test (including all sorts of great stuff like u-substitutions, partial fractions, long division, integration by parts, etc.).On “Review Day” we look at problems that look similar, but involve completely different techniques. Each “set” of problems consists of 4 problems, and students work in teams to try to solve the problems. After each set, we would regroup as a class and see how each group did.

For the second set of comparison problems, one student from each group recorded their solution (sometimes with the other students “helping” in the background) using my tablet and Camtasia recorder. During this recording time, the rest of the students continued to work on the next set of comparison problems, taking turns with their “recording time.” Why? Well, for the online students, of course.

While everyone had comments on how strange it was to wear a headset and talk to people they couldn’t see, everyone enjoyed the experience enough to want to share the videos with all of you (my blog readers). A couple students would’ve done a 2nd take if they’d been given the chance, but we didn’t have time. Thanks to my on-campus calc class (David, Brett, Stephen, Bre, Ashley, Xiao, Cameron, Daniel, Fletcher, and Cayla) for being such great sports!

Here are the four problems in this set of Tricky Comparison Integrals…


The Three Stooges present Problem #5

Team Gatorade presents Problem #6

Team Concept presents Problem #7 (they really drew the short straw getting the PFE problem)

Space Gnomes presents Problem #8

We have such a good time in class – working problems on the board, recording videos, having comptetitions, interacting online, … I think we can truly call it a learning experience for all of us.

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Adopt AND Adapt


Sometimes, I see new technology being integrated into the classroom, but the instructor is not really harnessing the power of the new technology.

Instructor A (adopts, but does not adapt): Began their math career writing out math problems using chalk on a chalkboard … then black markers on a whiteboard … they switch to writing out problems in black & white on an overhead projector … then later type the same problems in a powerpoint presentation (now all their text is in yellow) … and later later still they write out the same problems on a tablet PC.

Instructor B (adopts and adapts): Began writing problems on a chalkboard, immediately bought some colored chalk. Upgraded to a whiteboard … began projecting graphing grids, tables, and theorems onto the whiteboard, adding annotation in markers directly on the whiteboard space. Later integrated the chapter content into Powerpoints that included animations, and focused on using Powerpoint for the material written word for word in the textbook (like theorems), to free up class time for group work. How will this instructor adapt their content for a Tablet PC?

Personally, I always hope to be in the Adopt & Adapt category, however successfully I can do that. I did actually begin my teaching career in classrooms with old-fashioned chalkboards.

Now I have a tablet PC, so I’m rethinking the way that I “present” content again. What kinds of things can a tablet do that I didn’t have the capability to do before? I’ve been using it in the classroom for a week now… here’s what I’ve learned so far:


1) In Windows Journal (or any of the “tablet” programs I’m guessing) you have the ability to highlight using a variety of colors. I’ve always used underlining and circling in colors, but with the color highlighting , the substitutions simply “pop” out of the integrals. Here’s a video example of color highlighting using several comparison integrals using secant and tangent. Integration by parts using the color highlighting was WONDERFUL! And even my algebra class agreed that they understood the factor reduction in rational expressions better with each set of factors highlighted in a different color.


2) I am recording the example problems for my online class “live” during the on-campus class. Really the two courses live in a blended environment this semester, sharing their LMS space, online homework system, and message boards, so it seems appropriate to bring them together in the video lessons too. So I took a leap of faith last Tuesday, and projected the tablet screen on the whiteboard behind me, set up a headset, and recorded problems that we did in class using Camtasia. I made sure to repeat questions that on-campus students asked, and repeated their answers when they provided them, so that the online students would benefit from the conversation. Here’s an example from my algebra class “live” on factoring the sum or difference of cubes … and here’s my first “live” recording from my Calc II class … our first problem on integration by parts.

Technical notes: I stopped recording and saved between examples (worried about computer crashes). During the slight lag time between examples, I had students begin thinking about the strategy for the next problem. One of the reasons I recorded each problem separately was that I wanted them to post as separate links in the LMS… see picture below of live links.

Then I realized that I could use markers in Camtasia to place “bookmarks” in my recordings of the places that I wanted to split up the files for production. Now I’m up to 3-4 examples in each recording without getting nervous. There is a 5-minute training video on markers in the Visual Lounge on the TechSmith website.

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Blog Field Trip to Techsmith


Last Friday, I took a field trip to the TechSmith campus in Okemos, Michigan (near Lansing). Dave was a great tour guide and showed me all the facilities and introduced me around the offices. I met with the training team for a while and we brainstormed on strategies for how to get instructors who are scared of technology to participate in technology training so that they can use software like Jing, Camtasia, or SnagIt.

Then I had lunch with the whole TechSmith gang (they have a company lunch every Friday). After lunch, I was interviewed for the next TechSmith newsletter about how we, in math education, are using Camtasia and Jing. I stressed how important it is for educators to continue to use Jing in the classroom and that if there ever is a pricing change, how much we would appreciate it if that change happened not in the middle of a semester.

And finally, at the end of my visit, I got a sneak peak at the next TechSmith product (a spin-off product of Camtasia studio). I can’t say much about it here, but I can tell you that it will make it easier for instructors who are not technologically savvy to record their materials “live” as they are working in the classroom. Just trust me and schedule time to demo an “unknown TechSmith product” in your fall faculty development sessions.

I did pass along your suggestions to Techsmith. I must’ve mentioned the lack of superscripts and subscripts in SnagIt and Camtasia Flash Quizzes to everyone whom I was introduced to. The ideas for easy “pause” markings and question-asking during videos were well-received too.

You can tell that TechSmith is a fun place to work and everyone had an upbeat attitude even when talking about problems. They have a couple of “creative” work areas, which include a video game system, bowling pins, and a ping pong set up. Somehow the bowling pins are involved in a modified game of ping pong with ever-changing rules… but I don’t think I quite caught all of that.
I thought it was funny that almost every single TechSmith employee had at least dual monitors (if not dual monitors + multiple computers). I’ve been using dual monitors for almost 10 years now, but most people who walk into my office at school think it’s pretty strange. How does anyone function without two monitors… I have no idea!

I think I may have convinced TechSmith to show up at ICTCM and AMATYC this year … no promises, but it sounds like they will at least scout our math conferences for next year if they don’t make it this year.

I did pick up some TechSmith T-Shirts, pens, and highlighters, so I’ll be giving those away in a contest. If a “Take a Screenshot… It will last longer.” T-Shirt is a must-have for you, then keep an eye out for a future post about the contest.

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