Effective use of screencasting software in engineering courses

John Baker, Vincent Capece, Keith Rouch

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


This paper overviews several situations in which screencasts were developed using screen capturing software to enhance the learning experience in engineering courses. This software allows an engineering instructor with no background in producing training videos to easily produce computer-based videos customized for teaching specific topics. It can be effectively used to provide students instruction outside class in situations in which standard in-class lectures would not be efficient or effective. The particular software package used in this work was Camtasia Studio. Some discussion of video file sizes is included in this work. In this paper, examples are provided in which screen capturing software was used to produce training videos for students on how to use various features in software tools such as MATLAB and ANSYS. Teaching use of software in a lecture format in class is often not particularly effective. Also, writing tutorial documents for student use of software presents some difficulties, even when great care is taken to precisely word instructions. It is difficult to write a tutorial without inadvertently including instructions that are subject to misinterpretation. Often, when a student who is a new user of some software misinterprets an instruction in a tutorial, it can produce a lot of frustration. However, using screen casting software, it is easy to produce training videos that capture the action on the screen, along with audio explanations, and new student users can easily follow the tutorial examples with few chances of misunderstanding, because they see the tasks exactly as they need to be performed on the video. While they watch the video, they can follow along on the same computer and complete the same steps using the software that is the subject of the video. Students can easily halt the video while they complete a task using the software, then restart, or rewind, as needed. Engineering simulation software continues to take on a more important role for practicing engineers. But, it is a challenge in standard engineering courses to incorporate use of the software in classes while still having adequate time to teach the primary topic of the course, such as vibrations or controls. Screencasts are very beneficial in helping students quickly learn to use various software tools with minimal frustration. Another area discussed in the paper in which screen capturing software has been advantageous is the creation of videos in which example problems are solved, with audio explanations. Students often ask that more example solutions be provided in their courses. However, lecture time is limited in courses. Certainly, example solutions can be made available for students to review outside of class. But, using screencasts, the students can watch the progression of the example solutions while listening to recorded explanatory audio comments, and this provides advantages in limiting misunderstandings. Another topic discussed is use of screencasts to allow students in a distance learning environment to observe laboratory demonstrations.

Original languageEnglish
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - 2010
Event2010 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - Louisville, KY, United States
Duration: Jun 20 2010Jun 23 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Effective use of screencasting software in engineering courses'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this