Sometimes it’s just quicker and easier to show someone an idea or concept rather than try to say it to them. Other situations demand that you present an idea in multiple formats.
I know when I was in school (back in ancient, rotary-phone days), it would have been really helpful if my teacher could have sent me home with a recording of exactly how she tackled the example calculus problem. That way, I could have watched and re-watched her instructions at my own pace until it finally sank in. Instead, I had to rely on my own note-taking skills and not-so-steel-trap memory to guide me.
The kids today have it so easy. :)
In today’s world, there are plenty of tools available to allow teachers to share and capture their screens with their students. I’ve had my team research and pull together a list of seven of the best screencasting software packages on the market today. All of these selections are highly-rated and are good choices for their particular market.
How We Chose Our List Of Great Screencast Software For Schools
We relied upon both primary and secondary research, along with our staff’s own years of experience. After the hard work was done, I came along and pulled together everyone’s opinions to combine with my own experience.
I personally have the most time using the Techsmith, Screencast-o-matic and Screencastify software tools. I’d highly recommend any of those company’s product lines. It’s more of a matter of which software “feels right” for you, and how much control you want to have – at the expense of learning a little more about the program. Since both have at least free trials, take advantage of that time to see if it’s a good fit for you. I tried out Screencast-O-Matic’s free version; it seems to work well and will work for most educational settings. Since I’m already comfortable with Screencastify for my workflow of short, 5-minute-video-explanations, I didn’t feel the need to switch over and pay for the full-price “O-Matic” version.
I’ve never been an “app guy”, so I’m relying on others on my team for their opinion on the benefits of app-only products. That said, if you live and breathe on your iPad, you’ll want to check out the app-based product section.
Screencast-O-Matic: Free and Paid Version
A great choice is Screencast-o-matic. One small download is all it takes to enable you to record the webcam and desktop screen at the same time. The scripting tool in the paid version enables syncing of the screen with the recording. The $18/year version allows for transitions, animations and other special effects to deliver a high-quality viewing experience.
Online tutorials show you and your students how to use the software. One nice quality of Screencast-O-Matic is how well it integrates with Chromebooks. If you are a Chromebook classroom, you should see for yourself how well it works with your hardware.
The free version limits recording time to 15 minutes with basic editing tools and includes a watermark. The paid version is really not expensive for what it offers. It includes zooming tools, onscreen drawing, and editing tools. There can be ads shown on hosted videos shot on the free plan, though this isn’t always the case.
Screencastify is free with a Chrome extension which means it is immediately available to use. The software operates in your browser. No downloading of an application is required. Note: It only works in the Google ecosystem (Chrome or Chromebooks).
Recordings automatically save to your Google Drive; you don’t need hard disk space to save the screen-casted videos. You can download your videos to your hard drive if you want, – it’s just not required. If internet coverage is limited, record offline and upload the finished recording. The free version limits you to YouTube for distribution.
The premium version is really worth ponying up the $2/month. As I mentioned earlier, I use Screencastify for my own training and how-to videos for team members. (I also use it to record videos for my wife and kids to show them how to fix reoccurring PC issues that I’m getting tired of dealing with, such as printer disconnections, rebooting the router through a web page, etc. It’s saved me a ton of time and aggravation in that role.)
By paying $24/year, you get the full feature package. This includes:
- Most important in my opinion – the ability to trim video length and crop the capture area after a video has been recorded. This can save so much time avoiding having to re-record videos due to inadvertent collateral Imagine recording a video and then noticing you captured all the other browser windows you had open as well? With the premium plan, just crop the area. You can also cut out mistakes – something you can’t do with the free version.
- Unlimited video length – up from 10 minutes in the free version.
- Unlimited number of recordings per month – the free version only includes 50 per month.
- No watermark – this might not be a big deal for local classroom use but will matter for items you share with a larger community.
Both versions allow you to embed and size the webcam anywhere on the screen. You can also use a highlighted cursor to draw attention to a specific area on the screen
Cost: $2/month (billed annually) for Premium Version; free version is available but has restrictions on use.
Snagit: Free Trial and Paid Version
Camtasia: Free Trial and Paid Version
Snagit® and Camtasia® software are both TechSmith® products. They have been in this market for almost three decades, and are known for high-quality products. If you are most concerned with making sure the product you learn will be around in a few years, TechSmith is your software author.
Snagit is known as a great screencasting tool for quick-response and short videos with a shorter shelf-life. In my previous career, this was the tool I used to share information with my team. My company had some sort of company-wide license so it was the approved tool.
The built-in editing tools of Snagit allows you to edit within the captured screenshot; you don’t need to open another screen for editing purposes. Tools include adding arrows, text, callouts, shapes, and numbered steps. The versatility allows you to make high quality screencast videos.
The getting started series shows you how to use all the features. For those who don’t have the technical skills, there is a lot to learn before you can use Snagit to its full extent. That’s not to say you can’t jump right in and start using it; rather, there are more features underneath than meet the eye. Check out the series to explore them more fully.
Try the basic free version first. If you find it to be a good fit, purchase a site license or chose the volume pricing option for many installations. There is no monthly installment. Snagit is available for Mac and Windows. Education pricing starts at under $30 but drops into the teens as volume increases.
Camtasia is a larger, more complete video tool. The software does cost a little more but it is used for planned, polished videos.
Camtasia has the feature to avoid outdated videos by helping you ‘magically’ update older videos in the future. Another benefit is the ability to use outside video content, e.g., from a camcorder.
Features include adding overlays, intros and outros, animated backgrounds, and easy upload to YouTube, Facebook, Screencast, and Vimeo. You can add music tracks to your video to help you set just the right mood you are trying to convey.
With Camtasia, you can also add interactive quizzes to your creations and track student results. It’s a great choice if you are looking for a robust
TechSmith does offer a bundle purchase of Camtasia and Snagit. Check the bottom of the combo page for more information on educational discounts.
Camtasia and Snagit software complement each other quite well. Since both have free versions available, you can try them out and see how you like the fit.
Explain Everything: In App Subscription
Explain Everything is an excellent screen casting app used on tablets or smartphones. The teacher or student use onscreen drawings and animations on the whiteboard while recording what is happening. It’s a great collaborative learning tool since it is possible to share ideas between teachers and students in both directions in real time.
Import and integrate pictures, movies, and PDF files from a variety of sources such as your computer, Evernote, Dropbox, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, WebDav, or other sources. Use planned content or start with a blank screen with the option to adjust content quickly.
The annotation tools include colors, laser points, a variety of pens, moving tool, and magnification.
Compressing the video takes time on your tablet. The manufacturers, however, offer a compressing tool for your Mac.
A significant EDU Group discount is available for educational institutions and student groups.
ShowMe: Free and In App Purchase
ShowMe is an interactive whiteboard app for Apple tablets and smart phones. The videos are stored in the teacher’s library for access.
This user-friendly app is easy to use for kids of all ages. Simply click to start recording and to share your video.
The free ShowMe version limits uploads to 5, drafts to 1 and 1-hour cloud storage. Paid versions have unlimited uploads, 300 hours cloud storage and an unlimited number of students and drafts.
ShowMe is limited to iPad users. The creators like the innovative usages of drawing with your fingers or stylus and aren’t planning on creating a PC version. There’s no Android version available at this time. However, if you are in the iPad ecosystem, it’s a solid choice for flipping your classroom.
Leenso Create: Free and In App Subscription
The free Leenso version allows unlimited recordings of 15 minutes each whereas the paid version recording is extended to 30 minutes per video. Custom background images and PDF imports are available in the free version.
The paid version includes a laser pointer tool, a highlighter tool, editor ability, additional shapes, and real time video capture. The Leenso Create watermark is removed with the paid version.
Leenso Create is available for iPad and Android tablet users.
Did we miss your favorite software package? Let us know in the comments below!