Learn how to develop iOS apps (for free!), and Developing Video Content with Camtasia

What a garden of delights we have for you this week. First up, do you want to learn how to build iOS apps? For free? If that sounds like something you'd like to do then yes, there's a course for that.

Taught by Stanford University Professor Paul Hegarty and broadcast via iTunes U, the course will run for 10 weeks June 25-Aug. 27 (the course has a FAQ) available.

Hegarty's past courses have received rave reviews with some of the lectures being downloaded more than 10 million times. One reviewer writing about the last iteration commented, "This course presented by Paul Hegarty is fantastic. It's a best case example of good teaching by a master of what he is presenting. Even the questions from the class are spot on."

What will be different in this course is that it will be supported by a social learning platform called Piazza. Piazza, created by Pooja Sankar, is a VC-funded startup that provides a medium through which students, teaching assistants, and teachers can post and answer questions.

Piazza also supports searching teacher's notes, the ability for teachers to approve answers given by other participants, Wiki-style collaborative editing for instructors, and analytics to track student participation.

Piazza is very polished with great functionality, a well-engineered user experience (according to Piazza "Over half of Stanford signed up in two terms, and half of MIT in one term"), and, to date, no visible source of revenue. Be that as it may, I could imagine Piazza also being extremely useful in all sorts of organizations for internal product and project management.

Before you jump on the bandwagon for this course, be warned: "This is not an introductory programming course, and it will take more than a week's knowledge to get yourself up to speed. There are many great ways to learn about programming, though. Consider starting with the two [free] Stanford prerequisite courses, Programming Methodology and Programming Abstractions, which are available on iTunes U."

So, if iOS development is going to be your thing and you are up to speed on your programming, sign up ASAP. Like Stanford's other free online courses, while there will be no grades, the first 1,000 to register will have their apps, which are developed as the final project of the course, evaluated for showcasing on Stanford's iTunes U site. Fame and fortune ... well, at least fame, could be yours.

Now, you might have some training materials of your own to develop so I have a content development product you should consider: Camtasia developed and published by TechSmith.

I've just started looking at the latest version of Camtasia for Mac, Version 2.2, which allows you to capture video from built-in and add-on cameras, as well as from screen recording. This makes it easy to create presentation and training materials with any combination of screen capture, audio capture and imported media, along with video of the presenter.

You can choose to use a whole screen or custom sized screen capture area, or select preset screen areas that match devices such as iPhone and iPads.

Once you've captured the content then, in the multi-track editor, you can add audio and video effects, including volume adjustments, pitch and speed changes, animations, callouts, transitions, captions, masks and spotlights (highlighted areas of a screen).

You can also use the chroma key (AKA "green screen") feature so you can remove a colored background and replace the "knocked out" areas with a static image or a video (think Max Headroom's backgrounds).

Once you're happy with your Camtasia content you can post it to your Web site or to Camtasia's free hosting platform, Screencast.com, or send it directly to your YouTube account.

Camtasia also supports hotspots that can launch a Web browser session to a URL, pause the playback, or jump to another point in the playback.

So far my testing of Camtasia for Mac 2.2 has impressed me: The product is stable, well-featured, and easy to use. My only real complaint (so far) is that the application help and other documentation is not great ... you'll often do far better Googling your questions than you will using either the built-in help or the online support.

Priced at $99, Camtasia for Mac 2.2 is very impressive and gets a Gearhead rating of 4 out of 5.

Gibbs is is presentable in Ventura, Calif. Show him what you've got at gearhead@gibbs.com and follow him on Twitter (@quistuipater) and on Facebook (quistuipater).

Read more about software in Network World's Software section.

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