Saturday, October 8, 2016

My Favorite Tools for Creating Screencast Videos - Updated

Creating a screencast video can be a great way to show your students and or colleagues how to do things on their computers, phones, and or tablets. Screencasting can also be a quick way to create a short, flipped video lesson. At least a couple of times a week I'm asked about the tools that I use to create the screencasts that I share with teachers. Here's a run-down of the three tools that I use more than any others for creating screencast videos.

I use Screencast-o-matic to record on both Windows and Mac 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. Both versions include a highlighted circle that follows my cursor around the screen to help viewers see exactly where I am clicking and writing on the screen. 

Nimbus Screenshot:
Nimbus Screenshot is a free extension that allows you to capture screen images and create screencast videos. I use Nimbus screenshot when I want to create a screencast video on my Chromebook. Screencasts recorded with Nimbus Screenshot can be saved to your local drive or to an online Nimbus account. I chose to save to my local drive then upload to my YouTube channel. You could also save to your local drive then share to Google Drive or another online storage service.

AZ Screen Recorder:
AZ Screen Recorder is a fantastic free app for creating screencasts on your Android phone or tablet. Unlike a lot of Android screencasting apps AZ Screen Recorder does not require you to have root access to your device nor does it require you to mirror to another device to record. To create a screencast with AZ Screen Recorder on your Android device simply install it then open it and tap the record icon. You will see a three second countdown timer appear on your screen and then you’ll be recording. You can talk over your recording to explain what you’re showing on your screen. When you’re done just tap the stop button and your recording is saved on your device. You can share your recording directly to Google Drive, YouTube, or any other file storage service that is connected to your Android device.

Other tools & methods for creating screencasts:
These are tools that I've used at various times for creating screencasts, but I don't use them on a regular basis.

There is no shortage of iPad 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 requires something outside of a stand-alone app. If you have a Mac, connect your iPad to your Mac by using the Lightning cable (the cable that came with your iPad). Then open QuickTime on your Mac. Next select "new movie recording" from the QuickTime menu. You can then choose the name of your iPad and click record. When you're done recording your new screencast will save to your computer as a video file that you can then edit in iMovie if you want to cut out portions of it or lay a music track under your narration.

If you have a Windows computer and you want to record your iPad's screen, you will need a third-party service that allows you to mirror your iPad to the screen of your Windows computer. Air Server is the service that I recommend for mirroring an iPad to a Windows computer. Air Server includes a recording tool that  you can use to make a screencast video of your iPad's screen. With Air Server running you can just tap record and instantly start capturing your screen and your narration. The video will save on your Windows computer where you can then edit it and or upload it to your favorite video hosting service.

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. The shortcoming of making a screencast this way is that it lacks a highlighter for the cursor on your screen. 

Weekend Project - Identify a Goal for Your Blog

When it comes to blogging one of the patterns that I see every school year starts to emerge around this time of year. That pattern is, our blogs that we started with the best of intentions in August start to lose their momentum. It's easy to blame the tasks of the daily grind of the school year for getting in the way of maintaining your blog. That is definitely a valid challenge. Another challenge is thinking of things to publish on your blog.

When you're struggling for ideas for things to post on your blog, ask yourself, "what is the goal of my blog?" Here are some common goals and actions that you can take toward reaching those goals.

  • Goal: Reaching more parents.
    • Action: think about the questions that parents have when they email or call you. Write some blog posts that address the most frequently asked questions. Close your post by inviting parents to ask more questions. 

  • Goal: Encouraging students to write.
    • Action: expand the topics of your blog posts. For example, if you're a history teacher it is easy to fall into the trap of only publishing posts directly related to a topic in history. Expand your topics to include things that might not be directly related to one of your recent lessons. Try publishing a post about a current article from the fields of science or technology then asking students to share their thoughts on it. Or better yet, let them choose a topic for group discussion on the blog. 

  • Goal: Helping other teachers:
    • Action: first identify your area of expertise then make a list of ten things you wish you had known before you became an expert on that topic. Then draft one blog post about each of those ten things. For example, let's say you're good at helping emerging readers decode text. Create a list of things that you do to help students in that area. Then write a blog post about each of those things. 
Topics like this one and many others are covered in Blogs & Social Media for Teachers & School Leaders. 

The Week in Review - Feels Like Fall

Good morning from Maine where it looks and feels like fall. This week we were blessed with great weather to enjoy the outdoors.

This was a busy week of online instruction. On Monday and Tuesday nights I started new professional development courses. This week I also provided webinar instruction for two schools during the day. Learn more about my webinars for schools here or contact me at richardbyrne (at)

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Zing! - Thousands of Free eBooks for Students
2. How to Use Voice Typing in Google Documents
3. How to Use the New Explore Function in Google Slides
4. 5 Types of Stories Students Can Tell With Digital Maps
5. 5 Formative Assessment Tools You Can Embed Into Your Website or Blog
6. - Save Time, Shorten URLs, and Track Interactions
7. A Cute Video About Email Etiquette for Students

Need a keynote for your conference? 
Click here to learn about my keynotes and workshops.

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards.
Pixton provides a great way to create comics. 
QuickKey saves teachers tons of time when scoring formative assessments.
SeeSaw is the best platform for creating digital portfolios with K-8 students. 
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
PrepFactory offers a great place for students to prepare for SAT and ACT tests.
The University of Maryland Baltimore County offers graduate programs for teachers.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
EdTechTeacher is hosting host workshops in six cities in the U.S. in the summer.
My Simpleshow provides a great way to create explainer videos.

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