Saturday, December 31, 2022

Best of 2022 - Screencasting on Chromebooks

As I do at this time every year, I'm taking the week off to ski and play with my kids, shovel snow, and generally not think about work. I have some of the most popular posts of the year scheduled to republish this week. New posts will resume in the new year.

Back in June Google introduced a new screencasting tool for Chromebooks. Back then I wrote a comparison of the Chrome OS screencast tool and some others that are available to use on Chromebooks. Since then Screencastify has changed their free plan and Flipgrid has been renamed as Microsoft Flip. So I think it's time that I publish an updated overview of the screencasting tools available for use on Chromebooks. 

Chrome OS Built-in Recorder
The obvious benefit of using the built-in recorder is that you don't have install any third-party extensions. Additionally, your recordings automatically save to your Google Drive. And because the video is saved in your Google account, it is incredibly easy to share your videos with your students. The best aspect of the built-in Chrome OS screencasting tool is that your video is automatically transcribed for you and your students can have that transcript translated into the language of their choice. 

The shortcomings of the Chrome OS screencast recorder are the limited drawing tools and limited editing tools. It will probably get better in time, but right now it doesn't have nearly as many drawing and editing options as other screencasting tools like Screencastify and Loom. 


Screencastify
Screencastify was one of the first screencasting tools developed specifically for Chromebooks (it should be noted that it can work on any computer running the Chrome web browser). Over the years it has improved in leaps and bounds. Today, Screencastify offers more than just a tool for recording a video of your screen. It offers a complete video editing platform. 

With Screencastify you can record your screen, use a wide variety of drawing and zoom tools, and edit your recordings in your web browser. Recordings can be automatically saved to your Google Drive account, downloaded as MP4 files, and shared to other services including Google Classroom, YouTube, and EDpuzzle. 

The editing tools in Screencastify include cropping, splitting, and merging clips. It also provides tools for blurring faces and objects in your videos. Finally, you can use Screencastify to build must-answer questions into your videos before you share them with your students. 

It should be noted that on October 3, 2022 Screencastify introduced some severe limitations to the features mentioned above for those who are using Screencastify's free plan. Those limitations include a limit of having only ten videos in your account, a limit of only 30 minutes of export time (the total amount of video that you download from your account), and videos can't be exported as MP4 files. Those limitations make Screencastify's free plan not nearly as a good an option as the Chrome OS screen recorder or Loom's free plan for educators. 

Loom
Loom is a popular screencasting tool partly because they offer a generous list of free features for teachers and because those features work really well. Perhaps my favorite of those features is the ability to record a screencast directly from your Gmail inbox or from anywhere else in your Chrome browser. Loom also offers automatic transcript generation, viewing insights (get notifications when people watch your videos), and a tool for suppressing background noise in your recordings

Loom lets you download your recordings and MP4 files and share your videos directly to variety of places including YouTube. 

Here's a demo of how I used Loom and Google Jamboard to make whiteboard videos. 

Microsoft Flip
Although it's known for it, Microsoft Flip does offer a convenient screencast recording tool. It doesn't include a capability to draw on the screen while recording, but it is easy to use and easy to share your recordings with your students. You can also combine a screencast with a simple webcam video or whiteboard video that you make in Flip. Here's a demonstration of how to make a whiteboard video in Microsoft Flip. If you want to know more about Flip's other uses, take a look at this playlist of videos