Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Screenr is Closing - Try Screencast-o-Matic

Earlier today I wrote a post about screencasting tools. In that post I included Screenr. A couple of hours later I received an email from Screenr announcing that they are shutting down on November 11th. Screencast-o-matic is my recommendation for a Screenr replacement.

Screencast-O-Matic is available in a free version and a pro version. The free version allows you to record for up to fifteen minutes at a time (that is plenty of time for most screencasts), publish to YouTube in HD, and save videos to your computer as MP4, AVI, and FLV files. The pro version ($15/year) includes video editing tools, unlimited recording lengths, a script tool, and removal of the Screencast-O-Matic watermark. Both versions of Screencast-O-Matic include a highlighted circle around your cursor so that viewers can easily follow your movements on the screen. A webcam recording option is included in the free and pro versions of Screencast-O-Matic.

Applications for Education
Screencast-O-Matic can be used for creating how-to videos or simple flipped lesson videos in which you record yourself talking over a set of slides.

Tools and Techniques for Creating Screencast Videos

The question that I seem to receive in my email more than any other is, "what software do you use to create your tutorial videos." I use Screencast-o-matic Pro most of the time. Screencast-o-matic Pro is perfect for my needs. But there are other tools that you might want to consider for your situation. I have used all of the following screencasting tools at one time or another.

Screencast recording on a Mac.
The simplest way to create a screencast on a Mac is to use Quicktime. Apple offers step-by-step directions for recording a screencast through Quicktime. A video of the process is embedded below.

Screencast recording in Windows.
I use Screencast-o-matic to record on my Windows computers. There is a free browser-based version of Screencast-o-matic and a paid desktop version ($15/year). The free version is great for most situations. The desktop version offers some editing tools and longer recording times.

Windows 10 users have an option to create screencast videos if they install the Xbox app. The following video explains this process along with some of the shortcomings of the process.

Screencast recording on Chromebooks.
TechSmith offers Snagit for Chrome which supports creating screencasts that you can save into your Google Drive account. To use the screencasting option in Snagit for Chrome you will have enable the both the Snagit for Chrome extension and the corresponding Snagit Chrome app.  The Snagit Chrome extension is what allows you to capture your screen. The Snagit Chrome app allows you to save your screen captures in your Google Drive account. You do have to install both the extension and the app for Snagit to work correctly.

A Google+ Hangout On Air allows you to broadcast your screen (you can do this even if no one else is in your Hangout). The broadcast is automatically recorded and saved to your YouTube account. Brian Bennett posted detailed directions on the process here.

Browser-based recording.
Screenr is a browser-based recording tool that I've used in the past. It works well although your recording time is limited to five minutes. The solution to that problem is to just record a series of short videos if you need to explain a detailed process. Shortly after this post went live I received notice that Screenr is shutting down on November 11th.

My recommendation for a browser-based screencasting tool is Screencast-o-matic's free version.

iPad screencasting.
There is no shortage of apps that will let you create whiteboard videos in which you draw and talk. But recording yourself demonstrating how to use an app or how to complete a workflow process on an iPad isn't so straight-forward. The best option that I've used isn't free. That option is to use AirServer's recording tool. AirServer is available to schools for $8-$12 depending upon volume.

Android screencasting.
This is the most difficult of all screencasts to record. Again, there are apps for making whiteboard videos, but to record actual app usage or workflow requires a number of steps. Labnol offers detailed directions on how to create a screencast video on an Android device.

An Introduction to Google Forms for Teachers

Using Google Forms can be the solution to many problems that teachers have. I've used Forms for years to save time in delivering and grading short quizzes. Forms are also great for conducting surveys, keeping track of items borrowed from your classroom, and to gather contact information from parents. If you haven't tried Google Forms, I created the following videos just for you.

If you are an experienced Google Forms user, please feel free to share these videos with colleagues who could benefit from learning the basics of Google Forms.

Superhero Science - Lessons Based on Superhero Superpowers

Superhero Science is a playlist of science lessons published by TED-Ed. The lessons in the playlist feature explanations of what would happen in various scenarios if you had superhero powers like flight, strength, and speed. Each lessons explains the mathematics and science of scenarios frequently found in superhero stories. For example, in the lesson on strength we learn what would happen if a superhero did catch someone falling from the top of a skyscraper.

The complete Superhero Science playlist is embedded below.

Two Easy Ways to Create Your Own Halloween Cards

Halloween is coming up this weekend. If you're looking for a last-minute writing activity that has a Halloween theme, consider having students create Halloween cards. Storyboard That and Canva make it easy to create Halloween cards.

Canva is a service for creating graphics. Canva offers dozens of templates for creating infographics, letterhead, and social media posts. Take a look at the social media posts templates for 800x800px graphics and you will find a bunch of templates containing Halloween graphics. Your students can modify the templates by changing the colors, fonts, and graphics. Students can insert their own text into the templates. Completed templates can be printed.

On Storyboard That you can turn your storyboards into Halloween cards. In the Storyboard That creator you can use the myths and mystical scenes and characters to create your Halloween story. Once your storyboard is saved you can choose to print it with Halloween borders. The print-out includes lines for cutting and folding your cards. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to create Halloween cards on Storyboard That.

Disclosure: Storyboard That is an advertiser on