Regular users of the WizIQ Virtual Classroom will be very familiar with the ability to record and review class sessions. However, one limitation of the Virtual Classroom (as with most VCs) is that these recordings can’t be edited or easily exported to video sites like YouTube or Vimeo. Virtual classrooms also tend to be focused on whiteboards and slide decks. Even though WizIQ can support full-screen video, bandwidth constraints or simply the flow of a presentation often mean that recordings feature a small talking head with a large inactive display area. Not terribly engaging when viewing after-the-fact. Fortunately, there’s a relatively inexpensive and highly effective solution for these issues. It’s called Camtasia.
Camtasia is screen capture software available for both the Mac and PC and it’s, without a doubt, the best software of its kind. There are alternatives, but the latest incarnations (Version 8 on the PC and Version 2.2 on the Mac) are well worth the $299 price of admission (the Mac version is only $99 but isn’t as rich or mature as the full-blown Camtasia Studio available on the PC; at $99, though, it’s a steal).
Camtasia essentially can be broken into two components: Screen recording and video editing. The screen recording can be set to record any portion of your display; you can choose from select wide-screen and standard aspect ratios, set a custom size, or just choose to record the full screen. You can also choose whether to record system audio, just audio from your microphone, or both (more on this later). It’s fairly plug-and-play: Launch the recorder, adjust the settings, start recording, and then start your class session or whatever else you want to record. For example, you can record a tutorial for a bit of software you want to demonstrate in the virtual classroom but don’t want to use screen-sharing, which has more bandwidth impact than simply sharing a YouTube video via the media player in WizIQ. You could also record a tutorial for your students showing them how to set up their systems for WizIQ with a full voice-over, callouts, banners, and other explanatory text.
The video editing feature is where the real magic takes place, though. In previous versions of Camtasia, I was always tempted to just use the software to generate a basic video and then do all of my editing in “real” video editing software like Adobe Premiere Pro. I no longer bother with this extra step – the video editing capabilities in Camtasia are extremely robust. The screen recording, microphone, and system audio all appear as separate tracks and can be handily manipulated. At a basic level, you can easily cut out sections of silence when latency interrupted a conversation or chop off the beginning of a class session when students were just getting settled in. Make a mistake? Cut out the section with the error and the students correcting you before sharing the video with the world on YouTube.
You can also add transitions and, as noted above, include text in the form of banners, callouts, etc. You can add graphics (arrows, for example, to call attention to something happening in the class) and, perhaps most importantly, zoom and pan on the virtual classroom. This addresses the “big dead whiteboard” issue. The video interview I did with Heather Hiles of Pathbrite embedded below was done in WizIQ with just her video feed in its standard corner location since bandwidth constraints prevented us from doing full-screen video. I just zoomed the entire recording on her video with a few clicks and drags.
I exported the file above to an mp4 (you have the choice of all major video formats or direct upload to YouTube) and then uploaded the file to blip.tv where it was also automatically published to iTunes.
Piece of cake, right? It is, actually, and makes your use of the WizIQ Virtual Classroom even more flexible.
I mentioned that there would be more on the system vs. microphone audio, so one last note: If you are using Camtasia to just capture a recording of a virtual classroom session after the fact, then you should only use system audio. This prevents any background noise being picked up by your microphone during the capture. If you want to do voiceovers or add additional audio, you can do that in the editor. If you are capturing the WizIQ session live, then be sure to use both your microphone and system audio.
That’s it – Camtasia has a free trial, so be sure to check it out for your next class session.