Screen Capture Instructions

Students learned how to use software through a video created by the instructor using screen capture technology.

Goals:

  • to give students access to instructions for the usage of software that they can understand and execute at their own pace
  • to ensure all students utilize the same versions of important course software to prevent compatibility issues

Class: BIOT E-100: Introduction to Bioinformatics

Introduction/Background: This course introduces students to the use of computer science to solve problems in science, particularly bioinformatics. Most students enter the course without any prior programming experience. Thus, the instructor created a video using screen capture technology to provide students with instructions about how to set up their computers and get started with the programs needed for the course. Screen capture videos can be more helpful to students than lectures  or handouts to demonstrate the use of complex software. 

Materials

Screen capture program such as ScreenFlow

YouTube (or Gmail) account for posting videos

Procedure:

  • The instructor downloaded a screen capture recording program called ScreenFlow that allowed him to record what he was doing on his computer along with narration.
  • He then created a video guiding students through the process of installing an integrated development environment (IDE) and the programming language Python, which students would be using throughout the course. He uploaded the video to YouTube (available here).
  • The instructions were then sent to students.  The students wrote their first short program and were ready to use the IDE for working on their homework.

Comments

Using screen capture technology to provide instructions is helpful because it allows students to easily view and rewind the videos at any time. This method is especially useful for software demonstrations, as user interfaces can be too complex to be described through written or verbal instructions. Recordings can also be made publicly available and reach an even greater audience.

The instructor believes screen capture is the future of programming and software tutorials, and plans to use this method for other class material. No students reported any trouble with installing the software, which is evidence that this method is very successful!