Take that lecture and can it!

  • Faculty & Staff

Tired of delivering the same lecture over and over? Going to miss a class session because you're traveling? Need to demonstrate how to use software or perform complicated tasks on a computer?

It's now easier than ever to record a presentation on your computer and share it with your students online.  By pre-recording lectures or software demonstrations you can free up class time for discussion or other activities.  Or you can record lectures to keep your class on schedule even if you have to miss a session.


SAS Computing's Multi-Media Services has computers you can use to record a lecture.  Please contact us  at mms-help@sas.upenn.edu or 215-898-4947 for information about how to use our equipment, or advice on how you can set up this capability on your own computer.

Keep it short

We recommend that you keep each recording relatively short (~15 minutes or less).  You may be used to delivering 60 or 90 minute lectures in the classroom, but there are good reasons to produce your recordings in short chunks for delivery online

  • Consider your student's attention span; most people won't be able to give an hour of undivided attention when viewing materials online
  • Shorter recordings result in smaller files that will be easier for you to upload, and for your students to download
  • It's easier for you to update material over time if it's segmented into logical blocks.  It will also be easier to you and your students to locate specific materials for review if it's in smaller chunks, accompanied by a good description of the content of each segment
  • Interleave other activities with the recordings.  For example, end a segment with a question or call for reflection, then direct your students to use the discussion boards in Canvas to post their comments before proceeding to the next section


There are two easy options for recording a presentation or lecture:


1) Use the "Record Narration" feature in Powerpoint

Recent versions of Microsoft Powerpoint include the Record Narration feature.  You'll find it in the "Slide Show" menu.  You can very easily add your voice to accompany your Powerpoint slide, then save the Powerpoint file to Canvas, the media.sas.upenn.edu server or other course web site.  This is the simplest solution if all your visual materials can be presented in Powerpoint slides


What do I need?
  • Microsoft Powerpoint 2003 or 2007 (Windows); 2004 or 2008 (Mac)
  • Mac users may also want to check out Profcast, a software package which makes it easy to record presentations based on Powerpoint or Keynote.
  • Microphone or headset.  The microphone built into most laptops is adequate.  Check with your department's compuing support provider if you're not sure what type of mic will work with your computer  Penn's Computer Connection carries a variety of inexpensive microphones and headsets.
More information


2) Use Screencast software

If you need to demonstrate scientific software, show web pages, play movie clips, or use anything beyond Powerpoint slides, then you'll want to use "screencast" software to record your lecture.  Screencast software let's you record your voice along with anything that you can display on your computer screen.  You save that recording as a movie file which you can upload to Canvas, the  media.sas.upenn.edu server, or other web site.

There are lots of options available for screencast software, some of which are free.   We recommend against using those which have you upload your finished movie to a public web service (such as screencast.com or YouTube), unless you are sure that you want to make your presentation viewable by anyone in the world.  The software we recommend below lets you save your work to your desktop computer, then upload to Canvas, media.sas or the server of your choice.

A full featured screencast station could include a drawing tablet or document camera to help you incorporate sketches, formulae or notations into your presentation.  

What do I need?
  • Microphone or headset. The microphone built into most laptops is adequate. Check with your department's computing support provider if you're not sure what type of mic will work with your computer Penn's Computer Connection carries a variety of inexpensive microphones and headsets.
  • Screencast software. We recommend Camtasia Studio for Mac or Windows ($179 educational price; 30-day free trial available), or Screenflow (Mac only; $99, free trial version available).  Jing.com is a popular choice available for Mac and Windows; the free version limits your recording time to 5 minutes or less. Tipcam is a good free utility for Windows only; it doesn't provide as many advanced features as Camtasia, but does have the most important functionality. Check with your department's computing support provider before trying to install any of these products on your SAS-provided office computer.
  • Optional: a drawing tablet such as the Wacom Bamboo (~$79) makes drawing easier than with a mouse
  • Optional: with a USB document camera such as the Kenavision Vision Viewer 7880 (~$500) you can draw with regular pen & paper, and include that in your screencast movie.  Visit SAS Computing Multi-Media Services to see how it works.
More information
  • SAS Computing Multi-Media Services has screencast stations that you can use to record your lectures.  Try these out before deciding if you want to buy anything for your personal use, or to share with others in your department.
  • Find out how to get an account on the media.sas server to share your screencast movies with your students
  • Camstasia Studio tutorials from the publisher
  • Jing "Get Started" guide (Don't save your work to screencast.com unless you're sure you want your presentation to viewable by anyone in the world!)


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