Tech Tuesdays: Five Popular Screencasting Tools

Screencasting is a popular way for students to show what they have learned and it has many applications in the language arts classroom. The idea of pairing audio and visual together for the purposes of presenting writing, explaining an analysis, or providing a tutorial for someone fits easily into the demands of ELA. Screencasting is digitally recording a user’s screen, where a person maneuvers around the screen and speaks at the same time. With the popularity of this activity in the classroom, there are many options for teachers to recommend to students. This list includes my top five choices that span devices and platforms.

  1. Screencastify

Available for: Chrome browser

Screencastify is my go-to screencasting tool when I need to make tutorials for my students or create flipped classroom videos. It can be downloaded from the Chrome Web Store and will immediately appear in your browser’s toolbar. When you click on the logo, a pop-up window will appear with a variety of options, including the functions to begin recording.

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Screencastify has a variety of options for recording, including only recording one tab, the entirety of the desktop, or only the webcam. Once the settings have been set, press the blue “Record” button. A window will appear asking confirmation to share your screen and, once approval is given, the countdown to record will begin. Press the logo again to select the end of the recording. The video will be saved in a Drive folder. You can export it to YouTube or download it as an MP4 file, too.

Although Screencastify has a premium paid version, the free version is sufficient enough for teachers to use in the classroom. In the years that I have used it, I’ve never had the need to create a video longer than ten minutes or created enough videos to go over the 50 per month limit.

  1. Educreations

Educreations is an Apple app that can be used on an iPhone or tablet. It is an interactive whiteboard app where you can draw, write, animate, and narrate a video to share with others. While there is a Pro account, the free option still has a lot of tools and functions that would be appropriate for students in the classroom. For teachers in an iPad classroom, automatic synchronization can occur between student accounts and the teacher device, so creations can be instantly viewed or assessed.

Images can be drawn using the pen tool on the screen, imported from the device’s photo gallery, or taken and uploaded using the camera. Text can also be typed and placed on the whiteboard surface. You can add text or write over images and diagrams while recording. When ready, the “Record” button should be selected and the app will begin counting the duration of the video. After selecting “Done” at the completion of the video, the video can be saved and made private or shared.

For classrooms that are not 1:1 and instead use a BYOD system, Educreations is a good option because it allows Apple users to complete the screencasting process on their phone or personal tablet.

  1. Loom

Loom is another tool that can be downloaded from the Chrome Web Store. It is similar to Screencastify, except it is a little easier to use, which can be helpful for students. Once downloaded, the logo must be selected from the browser toolbar to begin recording. The pop-up window offers a variety of options prior to recording.

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After the recording is finished, select the logo icon from the toolbar again and the recording will immediately end. You will immediately be transported to a Loom account page, where you will be able to view your video or download it as an MP4 file. A URL for the video is automatically copied to the device’s clipboard, so it can be instantly shared with others. If someone views your video on Loom through the URL, they can select emojis to represent their feelings about different parts of the video and can comment on the work. You can also edit your work, such as trimming out unnecessary parts, within the program. The video can be password protected, if necessary.

One nice bonus is that Loom is currently working on creating an app. Once created, the program could be used as a separate app, functioning without the internet or a browser. If you refer another person to use the tool, your video duration limit moves from 10 minutes to an unlimited amount of time.  

  1. Screencast-O-Matic

Available on Windows, Chromebook, and Apple, Screencast-O-Matic is another popular screencasting tool for educators and students alike. Similar to the other tools, it offers a premium option, although the free version is sufficient. Once downloaded on the device, the tool is ready to use. When you select that you are ready to begin recording, a box will appear on your screen. You can drag the box to fit the dimensions you want to record. It will also provide your settings for recording, including the use of webcam, screen, or both. When ready, select the red button that reads “Rec” and the time will begin to count as it records the screen. The red button will have turned blue at this point and a pause icon will appear. This button should be selected when the recording is finished.

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You have the option to add the video to YouTube, upload it to your Screencast-O-Matic account, or save it as an MP4 file. If you choose to upload it to YouTube, all of the information you need to create the video, such as a title and tags, can be completed within the tool. All this work will immediately be transported to the YouTube video.

  1. A-Z Screen Recorder

Another alternative for students who are in BYOD classrooms, A-Z Screen Recorder is an Android app that students can use to create screencasts from their phone. Once the app is downloaded from the Google Play store, you need to click on the app’s icon to activate it. Five buttons will appear in a semicircle shape, which provides you with your options.

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The options include settings, which allow you to change the resolution and other recording options, screenshot, recording, gallery for all of your previous work, and camera. If you select the red camera “Record” icon, the app will count down and then will immediately begin recording everything on your device, alongside your audio. There is an unlimited amount of time for recording. If you swipe your finger down from the top of the screen, there will be a notification that allows you to either pause or stop your recording. There is no limit on the number of times you can pause a video. When you have selected “Stop” and your recording is finished, you are able to share your video with others.

While these are not the only screencasting tools available for students today, these five are some popular ones that provide the same opportunity for students regardless of device or platform. Screencasting is a great way for students to explain their thinking, demonstrate what they have learned, teach others, or reflect on their learning. The possibilities are really unlimited in terms of ELA classroom application.

Tech Tuesdays: Five Popular Screencasting Tools

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