Tuesday, 4 December 2012


A learner who missed a session recently said that he'd had a bit of trouble adding text to a curve - something we talked about in the class that he missed, but that was only covered briefly in the handouts.

Rather than try to explain in an email / screen shots how to carry out the task, I thought it would be much easier to do a quick Screencast.  I remember a colleague showing me Screencast-O-Matic some time ago, and I recalled how easy it seemed to be to create a simple screencast, so I decided to have a go at creating one myself.

After resolving the missing Java plug-in on my Firefox browser, I was shown a screen which simply said "Start Recording".  I didn't do any prep (other than to have a quick practice at the task myself in Photoshop to ensure I made the steps as clear as possible).  I clicked Start Recording, adjusted the screencasting window size and hit the record button.

After completing the required steps to create my curved text, I pressed the stop button, and was then given an option to upload to YouTube or Screencast-O-Matic.  I chose the latter, though I think I will definitely explore the YouTube option in the future.

I was amazed at how simple it was.  In fact, I was so impressed that I registered an account (free), set up a Photoshop channel, and even had a go at adding captions (which I then removed).

Things I learned:
  • Screencast-O-Matic is extremely simple and quick to use
  • The automatic highlighting of key actions (eg mouse clicks) is excellent
  • The sharing options are very straightforward
  • Whilst a mouse click shows, click and drag doesn't - something to remember when doing the commentary 
  • I need a better microphone!
I will definitely start using this more in the future, as I think it will be an excellent tool for all my learners. You can see the results of my first attempt below or on the link:  Adding text to a curve - apologies for the poor audio, this is something I'll improve on in the future!

Evernote (again!)

Yesterday I had a session with my Photoshop learners.  They are a group of adult learners, and the course is community based (though still part of Coleg Gwent).

At the start, I got a learner to sit at the front PC which is attached to the White Board, and we did a recap of the previous session.  This rapidly digressed and we covered some really useful, though unplanned, extras.  I was conscious of the fact that the learner at the front was unable to take notes as she was controlling the PC which everyone was watching, but then I noticed her taking a quick snap of the screen on her mobile phone.

I asked if she wished to return to her seat, but she said that she was fine because she was taking photos of all the stages and sending them to Evernote.

This then lead to a discussion about the usefulness of Evernote (and similar online resources).  I showed my Evernote account to the group - most of which is work related although the first thing that popped up was a recipe for Toad in the Hole which I'd sent from my phone, which caused a chuckle.  The students were suitably impressed.

Many of the group were really interested in what such a package could offer them, and it was great to share something which I really think is very useful.  Digression is not always a bad thing in lessons!