Vivian J. Zabrocki

Academic Learning and Support Specialist

Academic Support Center

Montana State University - Billings
1500 University Drive
Billings, MT  59101
phone:  406-657-2096
fax:  406-657-1658




Let Me Show You How:
Graphing Calculators Online

Teaching students to use a graphing calculator online is difficult.  With written directions, students often struggle to get the desired results.  Using the Texas Instruments screen capture, students can see the results of a calculation but are often confused by the keystrokes used to make the calculation.  Now, the keystrokes can be shown by combining the Virtual TI and Camtasia video screen capture.

The Virtual TI (VTI, for short) is a software program that translates the instructions for the calculator into instructions the computer can execute.  The free VTI that I used was written by Rusty Wagner, and it will emulate all the major TI graphing calculators:  TI-82, TI-83, TI-83 Plus, TI-85, TI-86, TI-89, TI-92, TI-92 II, and TI-92 Plus.  A clickable calculator skin is available for each model calculator.  When the associated ROM is copied to the same folder as the VTI, the user can click the buttons on the computer and perform any of the calculations done on a regular calculator.  The VTI can be downloaded from the website (

The VTI is useless without a ROM (Read Only Memory) image which contains the program that is used to operate the calculator.  This ROM must be downloaded from the calculator.  Directions for downloading a ROM image are given on the website (  Several useful websites for information on virtual calculators and downloading ROM images exist:

            Once the Virtual TI is installed and working properly, Camtasia can be used to create videos that capture all of the keystrokes needed to perform a calculation.  Camtasia by TechSmith ( creates videos of onscreen activity from any application so people can see how to use the software.  Narration can be added to explain the steps being executed.  Once the video has been recorded, it can be edited.  Videos can be spliced together with or without transitions and any unwanted frames can be removed.  The final product can be exported in several formats:  Real Media, Windows Media, QuickTime and AVI.  The original .avi files are compressed using video codecs to reduce the file size.  Unlike most other codecs, the Camtasia codec (TSCC) is lossless, meaning that its compression technology does not lose any quality whatsoever when the video is compressed.  When played, videos compressed with TSCC will look exactly like the screen that was recorded.

            I have created videos showing how to graph functions; how to set the viewing window; how to solve linear equations, linear inequalities, absolute value inequalities, and three part inequalities; how to solve systems of equations using matrices; how to find the zeros, local maxima, local minima and intercepts of a function; how to create scatter diagrams and find the line of best fit for several calculator models.  I use these in my online College Algebra class.  Some of these can be seen on our website at the Academic Support Center (  Our campus does not have a streaming media server so I have given students two choices.  They can view the poorer quality RealMedia videos directly from the Internet or they can download the clearer Camtasia videos to the hard drive and then play them in RealPlayer.  They will be prompted to download the Camtasia plug-in the first time they play a Camtasia video.

           Here is a sample video.  Click on the RealMedia link to view the video using the RealMedia codec.  To see the difference using the Camtasia codec, click on the Camtasia Video link.

Creating a Scatter Diagram

RealMedia Video

Camtasia Video