How to Record Your Lessons Using FREE Tools

We all start our businesses by experimenting to see if our idea works out.  When it comes to online courses, this is no exception.

You’re not sure yet whether this whole ‘ecourse’ business is right for you, if you have the right topic, if you could be a good instructor (especially, if you’ve never taught before), if your students are going to enjoy your material.

You just want to get started without breaking your bank.  So it makes sense to use free software as much as you can before you get serious and ready to invest in professional grade programs.

Well, if you are at this experimentation stage, then this post is for you.

Most online courses these days are a combination of videos and some types of downloads (e.g. worksheets, checklists, follow-along guides, usually in .pdf format).  So if you ever wondered what format to use, stick to videos plus downloads, and you should be fine.  This is what most students expect, anyway.

To create videos for your online course, one thing you will most probably need is screen recording software.

Here is a list of FREE options for you to choose from.

1.  Microsoft Encoder

I’ve used Encoder for the first several courses that I’ve created.  The free version limits you to 10 minutes recording at a time, which is absolutely fine.  I recommend keeping your lessons below 10 minutes in length anyway.  Anything more could be overwhelming for your students to cover in one go.

If you do need to create longer lessons, you can easily combine several screencasts into one using Microsoft MovieMaker (which is another FREE program).

2.  Screencast-o-Matic

My only problem with this software is that the free version puts a logo on your screen, which is a turn off for me.  You can get a paid version for only $15 a year.

3.  Jing

This screen recorder works not only on Windows, but also on Mac, so if you are an Apple lover, you can use it in combination with iMovie (Mac equivalent of MovieMaker, and it’s also FREE!)

4.  CamStudio

I’ve never used it, but it’s quite a popular software that many people love, and yes – it’s free.

5.  BB Flashback Recorder

This is an excellent program that not only allows you to record your screencasts, but also has some video editing features, as well.  My only problem with it that I couldn’t make it work with MovieMaker no matter how hard I tried, so I had to abandon it in favour of Encoder.

Now back to you.  What screen recorder do you use?

Any suggestions in addition to the list above?