Tech Tip Tuesday: Screencast Video for Teachers

I’ve been meaning to write this tip for a while now. With the pandemic raging and schools closing – at least temporarily – it seems like a good time to get this posted.

Teachers will need ways to connect with students while leading remote learning. One quick and easy way to communicate is through the use of screencast videos.

My favorite free tool for this is the chrome extension Screencastify. it’s easy to use, saves automatically to your Google Drive and integrates with Google Classroom and YouTube. From now until April 30, they are offering their “Unlimited” plan for free to educators. The Unlimited plan has advanced editing, unlimited length recordings, and other cool features. To get the code and see how to upgrade, watch the video below.

How to Get Started

You can find Screencastify in the Chrome Web Store. It’s super-easy to install and set-up, but here’s a short video if you want an overview.

A Word About Unlimited Length

It’s a good practice to break your videos up into smallish chunks. In my experience, students won’t watch more than five minutes or so. Yes, I know they stay glued to youtube the same way I used to stay glued to MTV when I was their age, but as awesome as your videos are, you can’t compete with the latest YouTube stars and music videos.

My Top Six Tips for Teachers Making Screencasts

1. Keep them short. Try to keep them under five minutes. If what you have to deliver is longer than five minutes, break it up. Remember – in a classroom, the lecture portion of class would be broken up with checks for understanding, questions, moments for students to reflect, discuss with an elbow partner, etc.

2. Don’t agonize over stumbling over a word. Correct yourself and keep going. If you re-record and re-record until you get it perfect, you will spend entirely too much time recording. You misspeak sometimes when you teach, right? This is not different.

3. Feel free to use the embedded webcam, but also feel free not to. Your voice on the recording is the part of this that will help your students connect. I personally think that students seeing you talking is powerful if it’s a welcome message or a video explaining the week’s work, or a read-along, but if it’s a tutorial video, I’m not sure it’s that important. Regardless, do what you think is best for you here. If it’s distracting to you, don’t use it.

4. No one likes the sound of their own voice. Well, except Adele, probably. Despite the cringing feeling you have when you hear your own voice, it is the voice everyone else hears when you talk, so don’t sweat it.

5. Limit your motion when recording. Don’t move the laptop or other objects and try to stay the same distance away from your microphone/laptop to keep the volume of the video consistent.

6. My number one tip – record your screencasts in a closet. Especially if you aren’t using the webcam. The sound is PERFECT. Your car is a close second, but the issue there is wifi if you are using a chrome extension like Screencastify. If you are in your closet but also want to use your webcam, hang a sheet behind you.

How to Get Going with Screencastify

Here’s another quick video to show you how simple it is to get going with Screencastify. You can also get more help with set-up, recording, editing, and various other tips and trick at Screencastify’s Help Center

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