A screencast is a video recording of your device’s screen. A screencast is a fantastic way to create instructional videos, short “How-Tos,” and share ideas. If you are looking for a free screencasting app, you may want to try Screencastify, Screencast-O-Matic, or Flipgrid Video Shorts.

 

When creating a screencast, educators want to hold students’ attention and foster understanding of the material. The following tips may help you create instructional screencasts:

 

Organize Your Thoughts

By creating an outline, storyboard, or complete script will save you time in the long run. Your explanation will be more concise and clear. As teachers, we always recommend our students to create an outline. Let’s follow our sage advice.


Keep it Short and Sweet

You can create screencasts using free apps, such as Screencastify, Screencast-O-Matic, and Flipgrid Video Shorts, ranging from 5 minutes up to 15 minutes in length. I recommend creating a video no longer than 3 minutes. If your topic/lesson is longer, try breaking up the content into shorter videos


A Page from a Teacher’s Playbook

Tell them what you will tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them.


Organize Device

Before pressing the record button, you will want to complete some basic housekeeping to clean up your laptop desktop and close unnecessary tabs. Having an organized device is especially important if you opt to record the entire screen.


Minimize Distractions

In addition to fine-tuning the message you want to share, you will also need to make sure the backdrop image is tidy (if you opt to embed a Webcam thumbnail) and minimize background noise. It is probably not an ideal time to create a recording while the blender is pureeing jelly beans.


Practice. Practice. Practice.

Perhaps Brian Lies, NY Times bestselling children’s book author and illustrator, says it best, “Practice makes better.” Practice teaching the lesson. Practice using the screencast app. Practice using all the bells and whistles the screencast app offers.


Record Using Standard Dimensions

As a general rule, you will want to record using the standard dimensions (i.e. 480p, 720p). The recording will look best when played back on Youtube and other video hosting sites. If you do not use the standard dimensions, the video may have a black border at the top and bottom of the display screen.


Webcam: Yea or Nay?!

It depends. By seeing the instructor, it helps build rapport and a connection with the students. However, I do not recommend having the Webcam embedded during the entire clip because I think it can be distracting. I think adding the Webcam at the beginning of the recording and throughout as a means to emphasize a point is a wise move.


Zoom-In | Zoom-Out

Don’t forget to use the Chrome browser’s zoom-in | zoom-out tool.

To adjust the page zoom with the keyboard in Windows or Chromebook:

  • Press and hold the Ctrl key and then press the (zoom out) or + (zoom in) keys on the keyboard.
  • Press and hold the Ctrl key then press 0 to return the zoom to its default value.

To adjust the page zoom with the keyboard on a Mac system:

  • Press and hold the Command key and then press the (zoom out) or + (zoom in) keys on the keyboard.
  • Press and hold the Command key then press 0 to return the zoom to its default value.

Annotation Tools

Several screencasting apps provide annotation tools to focus the learner’s attention by emphasizing the mouse clicks and providing drawing pens. Have fun experimenting!


Export as GIFs

Screencastify has an option to export the finished video as a GIF. I love using this tool for screencast that shows How-Tos. The constant looping of the GIF lends itself to show step-by-step instructions easily. The GIF can be embedded in Google Docs, Slides, or shared as a file.

Julianne Lange on Email
Julianne Lange
Trainer/E-Rate Specialist @ Northern Buckeye
Google Certified Trainer

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