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5 Ways Screen Capture Can Help Online Students Succeed

Posted on Tuesday April 30, 2013 by Michael Keathley

If a picture’s worth a thousand words, how much more is a video worth? Many college students are familiar with sites such as YouTube and Vimeo, but rarely do they consider the value of using screen capture software that takes both still images and video clips to help them succeed, especially in their online classes.

Here’s a basic tutorial from Isaac A. Wardle on one popular example of screen and video capture software Jing.


Note that the free version of Jing allows you to take a snapshot of your entire computer screen or one portion that you can easily select. If you do subscribe to the pro version, you can also record video of what you’re doing on your computer. After utilizing these options, you can then share a link to the image or clip if you wish or save it in your own files. Tech Smith also offers more advanced software options at reasonable prices (e.g., for editing) on their site, so feel free to experiment and develop your screen capture and video skills.

What value does this have for you as an online student? Here are five main ways you can use screen and video capture software to become a more successful student.

#1: Introductions
One of the most important characteristics an online class needs in order for students to succeed is a sense of community. The virtual world can easily make people feel disconnected. Students may lose interest or may not take full advantage of the opportunities e-learning provides for networking, another key factor in your academic and career success. A couple of months ago, I suggested that making a video of introducing yourself to the class to post into the “introductions” discussion most online courses have would be a fun and personable way to say hello to your professor and classmates.

However, there are other options with screen capture software. You could, for example, assemble a creative image or slideshow that illustrates who you are and what your goals may be for your edventure. You could also create a video overview of some of your achievements thus far.

Whatever you decide to share, screen capture software makes a great way to say hello and to help establish a solid online learning community.

#2: Studying

Another way screen capture software can help you do well is to use it as a tool for studying. If you’re like me, for example, you may jot down notes and then have trouble reading your own handwriting later. With screen capture software, however, you can take snapshots of relevant information you may want to review later or even re-record parts of videos shared in the class so you can edit them down to the pieces of information you need to review most. You can then share a link to your video with yourself or even a classmate.

In most college courses, you will have to do research, and Tech Smith explains that with its more advanced product, Snagit (and other screen capture software), you can record video as you search for sites, scroll through them, and grab visuals such as graphs. These can be organized with a specific keyword to help you remember the term you used or to help you find the information later.

If you weren’t blessed with a photographic memory, screen capture software can be a great tool for studying.

#3: Projects
A third way screen capture software can be helpful is on projects, especially group work which requires collaboration with classmates. For example, if your team is writing an academic paper or creating a slide presentation, you could record and share images or a video of the draft stages. You could provide peer feedback by copying, highlighting, editing, and adding notes as needed. You could also record yourself explaining what you see as a strength in the project and where, perhaps, you have some additional suggestions to improve it.

By using a digital camera, your group members could also conduct and record short interviews or other types of primary research that could be uploaded and added to the presentation. Overall, the use of screen capture software is only limited by the creativity of you and your classmates.

#4: Documentation
One of the fears that online students have can also be alleviated by using screen capture software. Sometimes e-learners worry that an email, discussion post, or grades will be lost by the system. They are concerned that a major project submitted may not have gone through to the professor for grading. Other students may simply need or want to keep track of their grades and progress in the course for an employer’s tuition reimbursement or for their own records.

Consider using screen capture software to take snapshots of your communications, submissions, grades, and any other such information that is important to you. Then save those in a file in case you ever need them.

#5: Troubleshooting
Finally, one of the biggest fears students have about online education is technology and what they will do if something goes wrong. This is when screen capture software can be very valuable. For example, let’s say you’re trying to upload an assignment to your course’s dropbox, but the document doesn’t seem to be going through. You could take screen shots or video to show what you are doing; then you could share this with your professor or technical support at your school with a request for assistance. Don’t forget that you could also do a voice over, explaining what you are doing and what you see as not working.

Doing this will serve a dual purpose in that the recording will show your professor that you were trying to submit the assignment on time as well as helping your instructor and/or technical support understand what may be happening. Often when students have shared a recording such as this with me, I’ve been able to offer a quick solution.

In general, screen capture software, such as Jing, can help you succeed. This is especially true in your online classes in which you may not be able to communicate with your professor and others face-to-face. Most programs are user-friendly, and basic programs are typically free.

Have you used screen capture software as a student? Please share any ideas or tips you may have with us in the dialog box below or via Twitter.

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