Screencasts, how-to videos that show only what’s happening on the computer screen, have been around since as early as 1994, according to Wikipedia. But in recent years, their popularity as an instructional method has grown and screencasts have become an essential means of teaching on the web (the term “screencast” was actually coined in 2004). Below are some of our favorite places to learn by watching on the web.

The now famous “Creating a weblog in 15 minutes” screencast that introduced the Ruby on Rails framework, helped to put Rails in the spotlight better than anything else in the early days. It has since even been emulateda fewtimes by other frameworks. Here’s how to find more great screencasts…

  • Peepcode – Peepcode offers a collection of professionally-produced Rails programming screencasts that sell for $9 a piece. These are some of the best reviewed screencasts in the Rails community.
  • Railscasts – Ryan Bates, one of the most prolific screencasters in the Rails community, has put out over 100 free screencasts over the past 14 months. He has a great voice, reminiscent of Bob Ross, and a background in video that makes for excellent production values.
  • Ruby Plus – Over 75 Rails screencasts since last December? Bala Paranj is trying to give Mr. Bates a run for his money! (Then again, screencasts on both sites are free.)
  • Pragmatic Programmer – Coders have long loved the Pragmatic Programmer’s line of web dev books, and this month the company added screencasts hosted by well known personalities in the development community.
  • ShowMeDo – A collection of screencasts from around the web (including some from sites mentioned on this list) focused on free and open source software. Ruby, Python, and Java have the most tutorials on the site, but there are also screencasts covering graphics and productivity software.
  • TechScreencast – Like ShowMeDo, this site aggregates technology screencasts from across the web on programming, web development, database, graphics, security, and other topics.
  • DimeCasts.NET – A new site offering .NET screencasts that are under 10 minutes each.
  • ScreenCastsOnline – One of the most well-known screencast sites offering tutorials for how to use OS X, Mac software, and the iPhone/iPod. 140+ tutorials for $49 per 6 months — also available on DVD.
  • ScreencastCentral – Over 400 software learning screencasts, as well as over 1000 more aggregated from video sharing sites like YouTube. $7.95/month.
  • The Screencast Blog – Screencasts on a wide variety of technical topics. Unfortunately, not updated very often these days.
  • Demo Girl – Molly McDonald, aka Demo Girl, has created hundreds of screencasts over the past 2 years, mainly demoing web apps. She also does custom work for anyone looking to have a pro create a screencast for their app. Demo Girl absorbed Screeniac in March.
  • Screencasters – Inkscape (an open source Photoshop alternative) screencasts can be had at this site.
  • Video Professor – You may have seen their late night infomercials offering screencast DVDs for free. Video Professor sells DVD and online screencasts for popular Windows software.
  • Screencast-o-matic – A web app for creating screencasts, this site also has a gallery of screencasts created using their application.
  • – Like Screencast-o-matic, this site offers free software for making screencasts and provides public hosting once they’re recorded.

We know this list isn’t complete, so please share your favorite places to find good screencasts in the comments below. If you want to try your hand at making one, Spread Firefox is holding a screencast contest right now.