Three Free Ways to Capture a Lecture for Online Teaching

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrust many university and college course instructors into the world of online teaching in relatively short order. Thousands of courses have had to make a rapid switch to online teaching and this coming summer the entire curriculum at my university will be offered online. Many course directors are looking for ways to deliver course lectures to students.

There is a lot of advice out there about online teaching and lecturing. Take some time to consider that advice and think about whether full 1-hour or 2-hour lectures make sense in an online format. Many online instructors find that short 10-15-minute videos work better than longer videos. Students are more likely to watch a handful of short videos than lengthy videos.

The first challenge, however, is sorting out the technical side of how to record lectures for online teaching. There are a lot of great tools out there for capturing lectures for online teaching. This article outlines three free tools for recording lectures.

Open Broadcaster Software (OBS)

Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) is one of the most popular screencasting applications used by many game streamers on Twitch and YouTube. In addition to being an excellent tool for screencasting, it’s also open source and free. You can also use it to record a local copy of a PowerPoint presentation with a smaller picture-in-picture box of the presenter, if you want.

This video below shows me giving a presentation about screencasting software and teaching using OBS and demonstrating how it works:

Google Slides with Audio

Google Slides is a free tool for creating presentations. It includes a feature to insert audio into a slide. Users can record mp3 files using a free service like Online Voice Recorder and add those audio files to a Google Slides presentation. The presentation can then be shared with students and even directly embedded into a Learning Management System, just like a video:


With a free Zoom account, course instructors can easily record lectures with a shared presentation. Zoom can be used as a screencasting tool.

To do this, an instructor simply needs to host a meeting alone with no participants, share their screen with a presentation, and select “Record.” This will save a local copy that can be uploaded to any video sharing service for students to watch. I was even able to do this from a Chromebook using the Zoom Android app:

There are many more options for capturing lectures for online teaching out there. Share in the comments what tools you are using.

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