Screencastify: A software-free screen recording option

Over the past few years I have really increased the amount of video content that I create for my students. Most of the videos that I make are done to re-teach a process that I covered in group instruction. Students find it easier to have me available on demand for help or they don’t miss content when they are absent.

I also get help from recording myself because it allows me to be in more places and I can reach the students who are not willing to ask questions. I teach a lot of software, namely Autodesk Inventor, and having the each of the steps laid out in video form is helpful for all parties.

Being on a school computer, I don’t have the ability to install my own software. Chrome has a number of plugins that offer screen recording. I’ve tried a number of them and my favorite is Screencastify.

It’s Free

To begin with, it’s free. It has a few limitations compared to the paid version, but for almost everything, the free version is totally fine. The biggest drawback in my eyes is that it has a watermark. I’m not a huge fan of watermarks, so I paid for the premium version.

It’s Inexpensive

The paid version of the software is only $24 a year. That works out to $2 a month and it enables a few things:

  1. Unlimited recording time
  2. Unlimited recordings
  3. Video editing
  4. No watermark
  5. Export as .MP4 or animated gif

What I Like

Screencastify sits in the top right of your Chrome window. When it opens it will allow you to record your whole computer, a tab, and/or your webcam. You can also annotate your screen while recording which can be super useful.

The videos that you record are automatically placed into your Google Drive. From there you have the ability to edit (really it’s just trimming the beginning and end of the video) and download. Previously, you were only able to download your videos as a .webm, which doesn’t play with lots of file types, but they have updated the file exports to allow for MP4 and gif formats.

I find gifs useful for lots of things, but the thing that I use it for the most is to embed the gifs into a Google Doc. I have built entire tutorials, manuals, and digital handouts with animated gifs and text instructions.

Other Things

Being able to record your screen and/or webcam opens up lots of possibilities. While I like to make tutorials with my screen recordings, I can see students using this to communicate or even to make presentations. Screencastify can be used on any computer that has Chrome, so yes, you can record your screen in a Chromebook.

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