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The Best Screencasting Tools for Classrooms

After dozens of hours testing screencasting tools, we recommend Screencast-O-Matic for students and teachers.

Danny Wagner | May 5, 2020

The beauty of screencasting tools is how easy they are to use, whether your students create videos to demonstrate learning or you record your own lessons to share with them. It can be tricky, however, to determine the best screencasting tool for the classroom, as most options have a limited free version along with a paid subscription.

If you currently have access to a premium Zoom account or a Google Suite for Education account (with Google Meet), the recording capabilities of those video-conferencing tools might be all you need. Take a look at this tutorial on screencasting with Zoom or this tutorial on screencasting with Google Meet to learn more about their features.

For those of you looking for a standalone screencasting tool, we've explored the options available and picked apart everything from price to ease of use. An overall winner emerged, but depending on your needs, one of the alternatives (or free plans) might be a good fit. Check out our favorites below to find the right screencasting tool for your classroom.

Our selection

This is the tool we feel best balances everything you'd want in a screencasting tool, including simple controls, useful editing features, and an attractive price.

Best overall: Screencast-O-Matic

Screencast-O-Matic gives teachers the best of both worlds: a free plan with plenty of useful features, and an affordable paid subscription. With the free plan, teachers and students can record their screen or use the webcam, zoom in, trim recordings, and add captions. Features like password protection and the ability to share to Google Classroom make it especially classroom friendly. The paid plan opens up a whole host of video-editing features, a powerful scripting tool, accessibility features, and so much more to take students from casual creators to expert presenters.

Most importantly, Screencast-O-Matic is fun to use, with a good interface design and simple controls. Whether opting for the free version or the $1.65 per month subscription (a price point that's actually reasonable for cash-strapped teachers), Screencast-O-Matic takes our top spot as a stellar creation tool for teachers and students.

Go to Screencast-O-Matic's website.

 

Other recommendations

These tools were also rated well and are worth a look depending on your needs.

Best option for free drawing tools: Screencastify

Like many screencasting tools, Screencastify offers a free plan along with a subscription. This Chrome extension's free option, unlike some of the others on this list, lets teachers and students draw, erase, and put a spotlight on parts of the screen. These annotation tools are especially helpful to highlight important parts of videos or make explanations more clear. However, there's a catch: This free plan only allows for videos of five minutes or less. Teachers who plan on making short videos, though, may find it ideal.

Paid plans (at $49 per year) release the five-minute constraint and provide many more video-editing features. Whatever plan you choose, Screencastify's easy-to-use interface makes it an excellent choice for teachers, and as a bonus, they provide lots of ideas for classroom integration.

Go to Screencastify's website.

Great free choice for annotating screenshots: Nimbus Capture

While not all of its features are especially intuitive at first, the free version of this Chrome extension gives you the ability to take screenshots, annotate them, and save them as an image or send to Google, Slack, Nimbus Note, and more. The types of screenshots you can take are impressive, whether it's your entire window, a selected piece, a delayed screen, or even a blank canvas you can add to. Annotation tools include zooming, cropping, drawing, and adding shapes and text. The paid plan (at $24.99 per year) delivers a more traditional offering that Screencast-O-Matic already covers, with screen-recording options and editing tools.

Go to Nimbus Capture's website.

Best for dynamic student presentations: Explain Everything Whiteboard

While not your typical screencasting tool, Explain Everything Whiteboard has everything students need to create lively presentations for iPad, Android, and Chrome and in a browser. Instead of recording their browser window, students start with a blank screen and pre-load slides, websites, images, videos, and more. Then, they record the slides as they speak, draw, and direct the presentation. The pre-loaded content guides students to plan ahead and arrange their thoughts before pressing the record button. It's a great model for building organizational skills.

The editing features can take some getting used to, especially for younger students, but once they've had some time to practice, the potential for creation and collaboration is off the charts.

Get Explain Everything Whiteboard.

Others to consider

While we don't have full reviews of these tools, they're still worth checking out.

Easy and totally free option (if you have a Mac): QuickTime Player

QuickTime Player comes bundled with MacOS, so if you want a no-frills (and free) way to play and record audio and video, this is it. While there aren't many editing features embedded into the player, students can still record their screen or record through their webcam. Editing is limited to clipping, trimming, and rotating, but QuickTime Player gets the job done quickly.

Go to QuickTime Player's website.

For creating professional-looking videos: Camtasia

If your goal is to give students a platform for creating expert videos, Camtasia is one to watch. The particularly powerful video editor lets students add animations, sound effects, and even their own quizzes. It's not as easy to use as Screencast-O-Matic, and there's only a paid version, but it may give your advanced students the perfect place to demonstrate their talents.

Go to Camtasia's website.

See everything we've considered

The tools we've called out here are a small slice of everything we've looked at. If you prefer to do your own evaluation, find every tool we considered below.

These Top Picks lists feature every tool we think passes muster.

You can also use our site's search to browse our full library of reviews.

Our criteria

To help organize our evaluation of screencasting tools, we looked at a few key features and functionality.

  • Ease of use
  • Design and engagement
  • Video-editing features
  • Customization options
  • Classroom extensions
  • Sharing capabilities
  • Price
  • Platform availability

Why trust us?: Our evaluation process

Our team of editors and reviewers (all current or former educators and/or researchers) have painstakingly looked at dozens of screencasting and presentation tools for this article, and narrowed down 11 of these for deeper evaluation and consideration. Each app goes through a rigorous evaluation process by both a reviewer and an editor. This involves hands-on testing (including, in some cases, in classrooms or other real scenarios), rating according to our research-backed 15-point rubric, communication with developers and other educators, and finally a written review. We also consult our vast library of from-the-field reviews submitted by practicing educators. All told, each app undergoes at minimum four to six hours of testing and evaluation.

More information on our ratings and reviews.

Is there something we missed? You can request a product for review using this form.