Saturday, November 16, 2013

Need a way to capture preseentations by faculty or students? Try PresentationTube

Just this week I tripped over a new presentation recording tool called PresentationTube:

It looks really interesting and handy - but fair warning: I just found it and started playing with it.  I haven't checked it out in all respects.

It's software that you can download to your PC (NOT for Mac yet), install and in moments you can start recording:

  1. Your computer screen
  2. Microphone audio
  3. Webcam

You can decide whether to include the camera shot, and you can select from various layouts of presentation and camera. This flexibility is quite comparable to proprietary commercial recording options such as Panopto and Echo360 Personal Capture.

PresentationTube offers both a Lite and Pro version....more on that in a moment. Both versions are fully enabled, but there are differences in how you can use them.

PresentationTube has these computer requirements: Windows (XP/Vista/7/8), MS PowerPoint (2003/07/10/12) and Webcam/microphone. The download page is here:

You must create an account to use the software, and make sure to use an email address you check often, because each recording will be confirmed with an email that contains the URL to access the recording. You can also login to your account and find the URLs of any recordings you have made.

The Lite version is free, but is limited to personal and educational use only, and most important, has a limit of 15 minutes per recording.  This is long enough for student presentations, and frankly, it OUGHT to be long enough for all teacher presentations as well.  If you need to jabber for more than 15 minutes, either edit your comments or make a second recording.

PresentationTube provides online cloud storage and access for the recordings.

The Pro version includes lifetime software license, 1 year free upgrade, 24/7 technical support, uploading unlimited number of video presentations, with unlimited video storage space and delivery. Pricing today is $50 individual, Teamwork (up to 12) $450, and site-wide license for a school, university or company is $950. Trust me, compared to other systems which capture presentations, this is not a bad deal.

I installed the software and found it extremely intuitive and easy to use. A typical text slide with camera shot looks like this while you are recording it (image taken from PresentationTube website)

Various controls appear across the left side and around the upper and lower margins, and if you can't figure out how to compose a recording within a few minutes, you need to find a high school kid to provide tech support. PowerPoint, drawing tools and a "whiteboard," which functions more like a chat box where you can type in text, are the primary display tools.

The drawing tool is of limited use unless you have a tablet or touch-screen (to be fair, that's not specific to this software - it's true of any drawing program). Drawing with a mouse stinks, and you're not going to be able to generate a lot of good looking graphics without a touch-screen drawing tool of some kind.

Interesting note - making a recording creates two files.  One is a file with the media, the other is a data file. Both must be uploaded to the cloud site in order to have a viewable recording.  For that reason, you might want to make a folder for your recording files just to keep your desktop or other folders uncluttered.

There is a PresentationTube channel on YouTube, and I haven't had time to see what it contains or where your recordings will show up - but you can bet they will appear somewhere there.  I couldn't find my first test by a title search, but it had been only a few minutes since I made the recording.

Some Pros:
  • Recording is easy and intuitive
  • There are very handy tools built in
  • Uploading is very easy
  • You get an automated email with a link to the recording after each upload
Some Cons:

  • You are limited to 15 minutes with the Lite version
  • This is NOT protected content, although you can mark a recording as "Private". Whether your classmates or instructor can see them if so marked is not clear to me yet
  • You don't have final control over the recording, so don't record anything you don't want others to see, now or in the future
Overall, this looks like a program with nice potential for students  and teachers to use for recording assignments or presentations that don't require security or protection.  It could really make it easy for students to record presentations to share with a class, and it doesn't require support from an IT department.  Best of all, the price is right.

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