Last semester all lectures were 100% online. Very challenging, especially for me, who uses a computer with the Ubuntu operating system. It isn’t very easy when recommended online teaching software only compatible with Windows/macOS. In this article, I will share some useful software for teaching online for Ubuntu users. While teaching online during this pandemic, I have been greatly helped by this software. Hopefully, it is useful for readers out there.
Simple Screen Recorder
The first software I want to share is screen recording software. Because when teaching online, sometimes I have to make video tutorials for my classes. In my opinoin, Simple Screen Recorder is the best choice. The features I want to highlight:
- Simple. Super simple. I have tried several other screen recording software on Ubuntu, but none are as complete and straightforward as a simple screen recorder.
- Can record by a window, follow the mouse, or a specific area on the screen. Another alternative that I’ve ever done to make a recorded video is to use Zoom. But in the zoom, there is no option to capture a particular area. It’s quite useful when we want to record with a “cheat sheet” on the screen.
- Video quality settings are also very easy. I usually use “youtube” quality with a frame rate of 30. The resulting video will have reasonable quality with reasonable file size. A video of approximately 10 minutes will be around 25 MB in size.
- The feature I like the most is their short cut. Yups, I can set my short cut so that the record-stop-save process can quickly be done behind the scenes. As long as the application is running, even though it is in a minimized state, I just need to press my shortcut button, and then the software will start recording the screen. I press it again, and then the video will be saved. Super simple.
I experienced the drawback with Simple Screen Recorder when I wanted to record an audio source from a laptop (e.g., I want to displayed sound/video). The audio source cannot be changed in the middle of the recording. For example, suppose you want to record audio from a computer and a mic. In that case, you have to separate it into two different videos or use other software, for example, Zoom or Kazam (which, in my opinion, is not simple).
For video editing, I usually use FFMPEG. This software has no interface. It only runs with commands in the terminal. The installation is easy:
sudo apt install ffmpeg
After that, we just have to remember the important commands for editing videos. One that I often use is to crop videos. The command looks like this:
ffmpeg -i video-name.mkv -ss 0 -t 300 result-video-name.mkv
When the command is executed, it will produce a new video which is cropped from the first 300 seconds of the original video.
FFMPEG can also be used for noise reduction, when the video we have recorded turns out to have noise (fan noise or rain for example) we can edit it with the following command:
ffmpeg -i nama-video.mkv -af "highpass=f=200, lowpass=f=1000" nama-video-baru.mkv
And there are many more commands available, for example, to convert video types, convert a collection of images into a gif (I used it for fun several times) and much more.
Another way to avoid noise when making videos or recordings is to use a Noise Torch. The noise torch will make a smart virtual microphone that abble to remove background noise around us. I was able to record videos in a full-music room using a noise torch with excellent results.
Noise torch can work with any software. When running, a new microphone will appear on our system. Whether it’s using real-time zoom or using a simple screen recorder, all we have to do is choose the mic source, which is the virtual microphone from the noise torch.
This one is an app for free draw / note-taking when teaching online. Last semester I got help from the campus in the form of a Wacom Drawing Pad to help me teach. Unfortunately, not all good software is available on Ubuntu. Of all the software I have tried, whether offline or online, my best choice is Xournal. Some things that make me like Xournal:
- Support with the pressure feature on the drawing pad. It looks simple, but with software that senses our pencil’s pressure, the resulting writing becomes more natural. This feature is not present in the Zoom annotation or some other software.
- PDF annotation support. Sometimes, I only prepare slides with only “half-filled” content. The other half, I will write it when live teaching directly on the slide. Later, the slides just need to be saved to pdf again and then shared with the students.
- Support with forms, latex formulas, text, and so on. We can also move objects that have been drawn easily. With this, I able to make a simple animation when explaining.
- And you can also use Xournal a sketchbook: D
I think that’s it from me, a short sharing of software that I think is useful for teaching online, especially for people who use Ubuntu. I hope it helps!