Have you ever taken a task that is largely visual or hands-on and tried to explain it to students verbally? Fixing a thermostat, assembling a doll house, finding a section of the library, registering for a 30-day trial on Study.com — ever try to reduce that to words in a way that none of your students can misunderstand the instructions? Better yet, have you ever given that challenge as an assignment for your students to tackle? This is one of those contexts where a picture really is worth a thousand words.
One of the coolest tools I’ve found for instructional imagery is SnagIt by TechSmith. SnagIt is a screen capture program. With it, you can record whatever is on your computer screen, either as a still image or as a moving video. So, for example, I recorded myself navigating in my browser to my school’s library page and choosing the LexisNexis Academic database to run a search. Then I uploaded that video to my LMS to show my students how to get to LexisNexis through the library website. It was a thousand times easier (and faster) than trying to spell all that out in prose.
This allows you to “create images and videos to clearly get your point across” and “[s]pend less time trying to explain things and more time on the work that matters.” That’s what the tag line says in the middle of the banner image below (which I just snagged from the SnagIt website using SnagIt software). But you can’t read it, because I blurred it out. How did I do that? The same way I added the red arrow and the red box and the yellow highlighting and the nifty little torn edge effect: I did it using SnagIt. All those features are built in.
Visual learners unite! Instead of typing out a dissertation of instructions, you can communicate so much more with a few symbols and call-outs. Pretty neat, huh?
- Allows screen capture in both still images and video w/sound
- Lots of very useful annotation tools for still images (add and format arrows, shapes, highlights, call-outs, text, stickers, tags, and much more; crop, resize, blur, or cut out sections; overlay multiple images; etc.)
- Very lightweight (won’t bog down your computer’s memory or storage space)
- Relatively cheap (about $50)
- Super easy to use, even for non-techies
- Lots of great support and plenty of short, simple tutorial videos
- Excellent social media presence (more support, tips, tricks, tutorials)
- Online storage included (upload videos to the cloud)
- Will make your life easier when explaining things to students
- The blurring feature is great for redacting sensitive data (like FERPA protected info)
- Easy, quick, useful across a wide variety of contexts. Instead of always drizzling text, shower your students with vibrant, informative visuals not just on the discussion boards but also in presentations, in online quizzes, in assignment instructions, in event flyers, just about anywhere.
- It’s not free (but again, at 50 bucks it’s pretty cheap; and you might be able to convince your school or department to sponsor an educational license for you or your team)
- Updates are not always free (simple updates are free and automatically installed, but larger overhauls and new version releases may require additional purchase – $25 or so every few years)
- Video editing features are pretty limited (but you can use other video editors if you want to do more fancy stuff with video; this program really shines when working with still images)
Check out SnagIt from TechSmith. At some point I’ll also pitch Camtasia, another (much more powerful) software package from TechSmith that’s geared towards video production. ‘Til next time!