I wish to make a video like this one from codeschool.com.

In this video, the creator looks like he is using some screencasting software where he can write on his screen and talk over what he is doing while he is doing it.

What tools are required to make such videos? In particular, are wacom tools suitable?


5 Answers 5


Fingers crossed that this one doesn't get closed. I've tried to do something similar, but it hasn't come out well. Hoping that some others have suggestions.

It looks like they're using some sort of overlay or whiteboarding software, and I assume a tablet or stylus. I can see a cursor where their pen is drawing.

I've tried this, and it didn't go well. But, I think that's more a factor of my handwriting than of the idea. Enough years of typing being my main method of written communication has made my handwriting terrible. And it's even worse on a Wacom tablet. Same thing with some student created videos. They're just hard to read.

I'd like to find whiteboard software that also allows typing. Haven't found one yet, although I haven't looked all that much either.

A couple things that have worked...

If I'm in a hurry, Powerpoint has enough animations built in that it's possible to do a fairly decent job. And, they can be exported to videos if you want to upload to YouTube.

When I've had more time I've used Flash. It's deprecated now, but I still have an old copy on my computer. Takes longer, but gives me a little more freedom in what I build. Also can be exported to a video, which is especially important since browsers are starting to frown on Flash.


Just played around with the pro version of Acrobat and it looks like it has a pen and text tool that might work for what I'm trying to do. Most of the time I'm just trying to annotate what's already typed out.

Edit 2 - After "screen casting" was added

This year I started capturing my screen as we work through problems and then uploading to YouTube for kids that missed the day or just want to go back for a refresher. I'm using a program called OBS. Works really well. A little Googling brought me to a Windows program called ZoomIt that will let me write and type over the screen as I'm demoing. Think I might bring my Wacom tablet to class tomorrow and give it a try.


I don't think this is the software in question, but one product that can produce similar results is Explain Everything. I used it to create short grammar review videos back in my English teaching days, and they were very similar in style to this. That was back on a second generation iPad, so I can only imagine how much sharper results would be on, say, an iPad Pro. I was able to write, draw, include images, advance slides, and narrate all my activity on the screen, which could then be exported to YouTube, for example.

I would encourage you to explore their education page and to read some of the "success stories" linked there about how it has been used in the classroom. Even if it's not identical to the video in question, I would bet it could serve your purposes well.


I am not a video pro, but I do enough studio work to recognize the technique. I use parts of this technique every week in live webcasts, albeit with additional hardware to overlay the graphic on the camera feed.

Take a whiteboard,

  • draw your pictures.

  • Snap photos.

  • Edit and clean up the photos so the backgrounds are white

  • set up slides in PowerPoint. Use cuts to make things pop up, wipes to give the appearance of writing

In a live webcast or classroom, you simply display the presentation view and press the right arrow on every transition cue in the presentation.

if the webcast is prerecorded, you record the audio separately and use premiere pro (or any half decent editing software) to match the transitions to the audio. cut edits on screen shots are invisible.


On the Macintosh, at least, the QuickTimePlayer, which is a standard application, has a function to capture the screen as a video, including sound. Having captured one or more videos, you can use any video editing software, which MacOS also provides, to create your lesson. The results can be distributed as you like.

I assume that such solutions exist within other (windows, linux) ecosystems, possibly as standard distribution applications.

The results depend on the sophistication of the video editing software, of course. I assume, however, that if you want something polished, you will need to put significant effort in to it. Quick-and-dirty probably won't have much, if any, educational value.

And, beware of copyright law if you want to include things you don't clearly own, such as music.


tl;dr: Value student work and universal communication over content.

I'm going to add a second answer to discuss a somewhat broader context. I was a pioneer in hybrid courses: partly online and partly face to face. One model was monthly face to face meetings of several hours with most work done remotely. The model assumed round-the-clock work (students lived in many time zones and had different work schedules) and so the possibility of anytime contact had to be maintained. All work in the course was team work with teams of 4-5 students in a class of about 20. The individual teams also found it difficult to meet face-to-face (FTF) other than during the lunch period of the monthly FTF meet up.

During the FTF we (the two co-instructors) were careful to do only those things that required group interaction, so there was no lecturing. Educational games were important to us. You can teach software process through games, it turns out, producing a non-software product instead.

Content of the course could be read by students from books and online material, some from the instructors and some otherwise. The core of the course was a large iterative project done by each team. Sometimes the teams worked on the same thing and sometimes they each worked on different aspects of the (software) project.

The students were expected to do all of their work between FTF sessions, so communication was all important.

The two main tools we used were a wiki, which any student or faculty member could edit, and a mailing list to which everyone was subscribed. The faculty could put up wiki pages (as could students) to point everyone to content, etc. The mailing list guaranteed that any question asked by anyone was seen by all as were all answers. It was a "full information" situation.

Private messages to faculty were discouraged for anything other than personal issues such as grading.

The individual teams sometimes used Skype for coordination and planning, but could also use the mailing list or wiki for that.

While we didn't use it much, a chat-server can also be useful for real-time conversations. This can be advantageous over Skype in certain populations - our students were older so hearing may be an issue. One issue is that not all students may be available for a real-time conversation (here email works better), but if an entire conversation thread can be captured and then posted to either the wiki or to the mailing list the downside is minimized a bit. A chat server is more useful to a small working group as the numbers are smaller so it is more likely everyone can get involved and the conversation thread is less chaotic.

The underlying philosophy of the course was that the important things were student work and universal communication. Content was much less important than those two. Content is available everywhere on nearly everything. It isn't content that makes the course.

I found the same tools and philosophy useful in other hybrid courses that weren't quite as intense as the one described above.

Note that this answer was posted before a title change to the question narrowed the question. The original title asked for "tools for online teaching." This answer was provided in that light.


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