Screen Capture Software as an Educational Tool


What is screen capture software?

There is large variety of software available that can capture the viewing area of a computer monitor.  This article does not include screen capture software that merely takes a static picture of the computer monitor, or screen.  This article covers software that creates educational demonstrations, computer simulations, and training assessments.  Darymple (2007) describes this type of screen capture software as "the tool" for creating software simulations.  Darymple explains that this software allows you to capture software screens and movements in a video format, edit and annotate them, and them publish them in Flash format.  For educational purposes, an instructor could create a computer demonstration and include his/her own voice for instruction.


According to MacDonald (2007, p. 38), there are two classes of screen capturing software.  The first class is software that is installed on a personal computer.  The software creates a Adobe Flash file.  Flash files play quickly without using a lot of bandwidth. Software in this category include Captivate 4 (formerly Macromedia RoboDemo) from Adobe, Camtasia Studio from TechSmith, and Snapz Pro X from Ambrosia The second class of screen capture software is network server-based software.  Adobe Acrobat Connect Pro (formerly Macromedia Breeze) allows users to share presentations and multimedia withothers over the Web.  Adobe's Connect software allows synchronous two-way audio and interactive video.

Sample Captivate Screen



Screen capture software, such as that shown in the images displayed here, contain navigation controls that allow the user to control the presentation.  Options set by the creator determine the controls that are available to the user.  Such options include rewind, play, foward, back, and speed controls of normal, fast forward x 2, and fast forward x 4.  Users have the ability to review lesson materials whenever and wherever they want, and as often as they want (MacDonald, p.38).  This type of instruction enhances traditional educational practices and infuses new technology into the learning process.


PowerPoint presentations can come alive with the use of screen capture software.  Importing presentations is a simple task.  Audio and other software simulations can be added within the same presentation. 


What are some current examples of teaching that uses this technology?

Example #1 - Mt. San Antonio College

Many students struggle with educational research.  Mt. San Antonio College Library in Walnut, CA, has developed a web page with multiple online tutorials which they call "Info To Go".  Adobe Captivate was used in the creation of these tutorials.  The first tutorial begins by asking the student to enter their first and last name before they begin.  After viewing the tutorial that covers the research process an assessment is given to test learning.  The results can be e-mailed to an  e-mail address.


Example #2 - Bloomsberg University of Pennsylvania

In the journal article,  "Captivate MenuBuilder: Creating an Online Tutorial forTeaching Software", Yelinek (2008, pp. 101-103) discusses how graduate students in Instructional Technology at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania used Adobe's Captivate enhance the online learning experience for students at Pennsylvania's SusQ-Cyber Charter School (SCCS).  SCCS was created in 1998 and was the first cyber charter school in Pennsylvania.  The students at SCCS take courses through various online curriculum providers.  The graduate students were given the task of developing an online tutorial that teaches SCCS students how to navigate through courses offered at Columbia High School Center for Distance and Independent Study at the University of Missouri.  To  better understand their needs, students from SCCS were surveyed in order to identify their prerequisite computer skills.  Further surveys that included parents determined that the current information provided through a PDF tutorial was insufficient for helping students take online exams, get feedback from exams, and see their grades.  This information provided insight into the content that should be included in the online tutorials that would be developed.  Following Gagne's model of instruction, the graduate students outlined the modules that would be included in the online tutorials. 


Adobe Captivate was selected as the software for the tutorial because it allows users to record screens and mouse movements on a computer screen to be later replayed as simulations and software demonstrations.  The ability to add voice-over narration and onscreen pop-up boxes allowed for futher explanation.  Quiz features can also be added to assess learning (p. 103)  The MenuBuilder feature of Captivate allowed the developers to create a menu page that linked the tutorials together so that students viewing the page could branch to a topic of their choosing.  The final product was tested (p. 106) and feedback from students gave insight into changes that could be made to improve the product.  Final evaluations determined that the tutorials were successfully being used to allow students to navigate easily and more quickly through the courses at the University of Missouri.


To view a tutorial on Adobe Connect please play the folllow video:

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Video URL 


Essentials of Adobe Captivate 4

What material is available for learning this software?

IconLogic has published a workbook, "Essentials of Adobe Captivate 4", by Kevin Siegel (2009) that provides step-by-step instruction for many of Captivate's features.  IconLogic also offers, "Adobe Captivate 4, Beyond the Essentials".  The IconLogic website also offers virtual training using a live online interface. 


What are some of the screen capture software programs that are available?

Adobe Captivate 4 (formerly known as Macromedia Robodemo).

Camtasia Studio from TechSmith.

Snapz Pro X from Ambrosia.


What do these software programs cost?  Is there academic / educational pricing available?

Adobe Captivate 4 software can be purchased for $799 directly from Adobe.  The Adobe Education Store offers college students (Higher-Ed students who can verify their student status) the opportunity to purchase the software at the significantly discounted price of $249.

Camtasia Studio 6 is available at the TechSmith online store for $299  or with educational pricing for $179.  Ambrosia software offers Snapz Pro X for $69.  A 20% educational discount is available.


What are the minimum system requirments?

Camtasia Studio

Adobe Captivate 4

Snapz Pro X




TechSmith Camtasia Studio 6

Minimum stystem requirements for Windows:

  • Microsoft Windows XP or Vista
  • Microsoft DirectX 9 or later version
  • 1.0 GHz processor minimum ~ Recommended: 2.5 GHz (for PowerPoint and camera recordings.)
  • 500 MB RAM minimum ~ Recommended: 1.0 GB
  • Windows-compatible sound card, microphone and speakers (recommended)
  • 60 MB of hard-disk space for program installation

Adobe Captivate 4

Minimum system requirements for Windows:

  • Intel® Pentium® 4, Intel Centrino®, Intel Xeon®, or Intel Core™ Duo (or compatible) processor
  • Microsoft® Windows® XP with Service Pack 2 (Service Pack 3 recommended) or Windows Vista® Home Premium, Business, Ultimate, or Enterprise with Service Pack 1 (certified for 32-bit editions)
  • 512MB of RAM (1GB recommended)
  • 1.5GB of available hard-disk space; additional free space required during installation (cannot install on flash-based storage devices)
  • DVD-ROM drive
  • 800x600 screen resolution (1,024x768 recommended)

Ambrosia Snapz Pro X

Operating system requirements for Mac:

  • Mac OS X






Darymple, D & Katica, Roy (2007). Captivate. Training Media Review, Retrieved April 19, 2009, from


MacDonald, L & Caverly, D (2007) Techtalk: Screen Capturing. Journal of Developmental Education. 20 (3), 38-39.


Siegel, K, (2009). Essentials of Adobe Captivate 4, Riva, MD: IconLogic, Inc.


Yelinek, K, Tarnowski, L, Hannon, P, & Oliver, S. (2008) Captivate MenuBuilder: Creating an Online Tutorial forTeaching Software, The Clearing House, 12, 101-106.