I’ve had some bumps in the road while getting my screencasting project off the ground. But there are some interesting possibilities on the horizon as well that weren’t part of the original plan.
First of all, I should have read the system requirements on Parallels Desktop more carefully. I’m using Parallels because I am going to do screencasts on training for the technology that we use in our math classes here, and that technology is almost all Windows-only software. So all my screencasting and video editing software is OS X only, and the stuff I am screencasting about is Windows-only, hence the need for Parallels. However, once I had it, and WinXP, installed, my entire system slowed to a crawl. It was literally taking 20 seconds for a pull-down menu to pull down and even longer to click from one window into another. Turns out that the minimum suggested RAM for running Parallels is 768 MB, and all I have is 512 MB on the Macbook. So I need to do a RAM upgrade before anything can happen, which means I need to find some money to buy the RAM. (Send donations to the email address at left.)
I guess with a fancy-schmancy Apple notebook, I figured, “Pshaw! System requirements? I don’t need no steenking system requirements!”
Secondly, the Wacom Bluetooth tablet I ordered is here and installed — but it doesn’t do everything I thought it would do. I was hoping to be able to (1) annotate Keynote presentations in real time while they are running, and (2) write legibly on the desktop or an open window. The tablet does neither of these things natively; it can only be used as a mouse (a very good mouse, I should add) and to draw on digital photos or do paint program stuff. I did find Desktastic which lets me draw on windows and the desktop, but it isn’t accessible during a running Keynote presentation. And it costs $12, which isn’t much, but it’s one more thing to pay for, and it seems to me this capability ought to be included with the software that came bundled with the tablet.
But it’s not all bad so far. I’ve scripted out twelve introductory LaTeX screencasts for use by my Methods of Problem Solving students and anybody else who’d like a self-contained introduction to LaTeX. Once they are done, I think they’ll be very useful for learning and reviewing this powerful piece of software. I’ve also planned out a few basic Excel screencasts that can be used by our Calculus Preparation and Calculus students, including the students at the high school where we’re developing a dual-enrollment program.
And as far as delivery goes, I’m getting the ducks lined up in a row to be able to post these to Google Video so that anybody out there may access and use them for free. But an intriguing second possibility is that our IT department has started the process of getting us onto iTunes U, and so this content could be put directly onto iTunes along with other digital media. I’m pretty excited about this possibility; having a spot in iTunes U would not only be a good way to distribute our content but it would also be a good PR move, putting us alongside only a few other schools, all of which are heavy hitters such as Duke or MIT.
Watch this space for special “beta” (read: rough draft) versions of some of those screencasts in the near future.