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Practical Ed Tech Tip of the Week – 7 Screencasting Tools That Work on All Computers

There are many uses for screencasting (recording a video of your computer’s screen)  in a school setting. You can make screencasts to show your students how an app, website, or new piece of software works. You can flip that idea around and have your students make screencasts for the same purpose. In fact, that’s a great way to get students to practice giving clear instruction.

Recording a screencast while showing some slides is a simple way to make a short video lesson. I’ve done this and I recommend keeping it to five minutes or less. It’s better to have two five minute videos than one ten minute video. Again, you can make the videos or you can flip it around and have students make the videos.

The number of options for making screencast videos increases every year. The following seven screencast recording tools are free and work on Windows, Mac, and Chromebook computers.

Screencast-O-Matic is my favorite option for screencasting on a Windows or Mac computer. And it is now offering a public beta of their Chrome app. To use Screencast-O-Matic on your Chromebook you will need to go to this page while on your Chromebook, click launch recorder, install the Chrome app when prompted, and then start recording your screen. Screencast-O-Matic on a Chromebook will let you record for up to fifteen minutes per video. You can include your own narration as well as sounds from your Chromebook in your screencasts. Completed videos can be saved to Chromebook or saved directly to Google Drive. When Screencast-O-Matic for Chrome leaves beta, it will probably be my go-to recommendation.

Nimbus Screenshot is my favorite tool on this list because of its ease of installation and it is the only tool on this list that provided a customizable countdown timer. I like the countdown timer because it gives me a few seconds to prepare to start talking over my screencast. The other tools just started recording the second that I hit the record button. Nimbus Screenshot was also the easiest to install and configure on my Chromebook. Screencasts recorded with Nimbus Screenshot can be saved to your local drive or to an online Nimbus account. I usually choose to save to my local drive then upload to my YouTube channel. You can also save to your local drive then send it to Google Drive or another online storage service.

CaptureCast lets you record your webcam while recording your screen which you cannot do with the Nimbus tool. You can choose to record your screen, your screen and your webcam, or just your screen or just your webcam. CaptureCast gives you three options for recording definition. So if you’re on a slower network you can choose a lower resolution recording to save processing time. CaptureCast lets you save a recording locally or send it to YouTube or to Vimeo.

Screencastify might have the most name recognition in this list, but I don’t like it as much as some other tech bloggers like it. The set-up process asks a lot questions that could confuse new users. The free version limits recordings to ten minutes and puts a watermark on the recording. On the upside, there is an option to upload directly to YouTube and to share directly to Google Classroom. The sharing to Google Classroom feature is the one that most fans of Screencastify are quick to point out to me.

Loom is a free screencasting tool that works on Chromebooks, Macs, and Windows computers. Loom is a Chrome extension. With Loom installed you can record your desktop, an individual tab, and or your webcam. That means that you could use Loom to just record a webcam video on a Chromebook. Of course, this also means that you can use Loom to record your webcam while also recording your desktop. Loom recordings can be up to ten minutes long. A completed recording can be shared via social media and email. You can also download your recordings as MP4 files to upload to YouTube or any other video hosting service.

Soapbox is a free tool from Wistia that makes it easy to create great screencast videos on a Chromebook or any computer that is using the Chrome web browser. With Soapbox installed in the Chrome web browser you can quickly record your screen and your webcam at the same time. The most distinguishing feature of Soapbox is that you can have your video transition from your screen to your webcam to a combination of the two. Soapbox includes some simple editing tools for zooming in on an area of your screen and calling attention to specific parts of your screen.

ViewedIt is a free Chrome extension that makes it quick and easy to create and share screencast videos. With the extension installed you can record your entire screen or just one window tab. ViewedIt will let you record yourself with your webcam too. The best part of ViewedIt is that you can track who watches your video. To record on ViewedIt you simply have to click the extension icon then choose what you want to record. When you’re done recording your video is automatically stored on ViewedIt. From ViewedIt you can share your video via email and social media. If you choose to share via email, you will be able to track who watched your video.

Here are this week’s most popular posts from FreeTech4Teachers.com:
1. 5 Good Alternatives to Google Image Search
2. 5 Observations Students Can Record With Google’s Science Journal App
3. Three Good Sources of Fun and Interesting Math Challenges
4. Four Things Students Need to Create Book Trailer Videos
5. Seven Ways to Create Screencasts on Chromebooks
6. How to Use Flipgrid – A Guide for Getting Started
7. Three Free iPad Apps for Creating Talking Animations

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