Screen-recording software

Usability CC BY-SA Thomas Link - FlickrUsability – how well a digital tool supports users in carrying out their tasks ‘in an effective, efficient and satisfactory manner’ (Freire et al. 2012) – is a crucial consideration, whether you’re developing a new tool or deciding whether to adopt a ready-made one. One of the many ways to evaluate usability is to ask representatives of your target audience to carry out specific activities with the tool. Recording their actions (with their permission, of course!) saves you from having to take notes during the session and allows you to spend more time afterwards analysing what users found easy – and not so easy.

Peter Robinson of our Educational Media Team lists some of the leading screen-recording software and offers some practical tips. You can also find links to two of our IT Learning Centre courses, including how to use screen recording – also known as screen-casting – in your  teaching.

Replay Lecture Capture

Normally associated with recording lectures, the Replay software (Panopto) can record the computer screen and your conversation with the user as they carry out the specified activities. It automatically sends the recording to a folder in a site in Weblearn. Key benefits are:

  •  It’s supported within IT Services.
  •  You can trim the material afterwards.
  •  You can change the layout of the screen for the output file.
  •  You can work on different computers and save recordings in the same folder.

Training material and support site:
Service email:

‘Built-in’ tools on your computer

  • Windows 10 has a built-in screen recorder in its Game Bar. Although the intended purpose is to record game clips, you can also use it to take screenshots and record users’ actions in any software.
  • On a Mac, the Quicktime player can record screen areas and audio directly to a file on the desktop.

Third-party software

General tips for screen recording

  • Adjusting the display:
    • Make the cursor much bigger in system settings.
    • If the software allows, capture only a small area of the screen. Alternatively, make the overall screen resolution smaller.
    • If using a browser consider making the text a little larger than normal (this might also reveal errors in the CSS).
  • Interacting with users:
    • Get them to follow a series of written steps to complete tasks so that all users are doing the same task.
    • Ask them to be a little slower as they move around the screen.
    • Encourage each user to speak aloud as they do things; in particular, ask them to verbalise any problems or concerns.

IT Learning Centre courses on screen recording

Screencasting and capture: An overview
20/02/2017 14:00 – 16:00

Screencasting: Enhance your teaching
06/03/2017 14:00 – 17:00

Freire, L.L., Arezes, P.M., & Campos, J.C. (2012). A literature review about usability evaluation methods for e-learning platforms. Work, 41, 1038-1044.

References to the third-party products listed in this post do not imply endorsement of them on the part of either Academic IT Services or the University of Oxford as a whole.

Image credit: CC BY-SA Thomas Link via Flickr

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