Review by Marianne Rogowski, Common Sense Education | Updated April 2018

Screencastify

Easy screen-recording tool facilitates outside-the-box instruction

Subjects & skills
Subjects
N/A

Skills
  • Communication & Collaboration
  • Creativity
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
3–12
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (11 Reviews)

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Pros: This simple browser extension is easy to use and versatile, and puts a new spin on traditional presentations.

Cons: Only works with Chrome devices and browsers, requires careful content planning to keep audiences interested.

Bottom Line: If you have access to Chrome, Screencastify is an easy instructional tool that lets teachers and students communicate in new and creative ways.

As with most teaching tools, successful classroom use of Screencastify will depend on how well teachers harness its potential to match their particular needs. There are effective uses for both teachers and students: Teachers can record themselves to create a flipped classroom, explain difficult concepts, recap the day's main objectives, demonstrate an idea, or give students audio or video feedback on their work. They can communicate with parents as well, explaining procedures or bringing a personal touch to the traditional classroom newsletter. Students can use Screencastify to demonstrate what they've learned or how they solved a problem, give presentations, catch up their absent peers, make and read ebooks, or practice reading aloud in a foreign-language class.  

Administrators can use it too: facilitating virtual faculty meetings, sharing professional development, or providing training for new employees. For educators who need even more ideas, the wide variety of support options available will help them brainstorm the best uses for Screencastify in and out of school.

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Screencastify is a free Chrome browser extension that records your screen, face, voice, and more. To use Screencastify, find its icon in the Chrome toolbar and choose among the recording options: record a single tab in your web browser, capture all screen activity, or use your webcam to record or insert a video of yourself. While recording, use the tools to write, draw, erase, keep time, restart, or spotlight a section on the screen. There's also an option to play the audio in a tab you're recording, but the sound can be hollow and difficult to hear. 

Save completed videos locally in your Screencastify account or in Google Drive, or upload them to YouTube (with more customizable options available in the settings menu). The free version allows up to 50 recordings per month, each up to 10 minutes long, but users will need to rely on other video editing tools if they want to make post-recording changes for free. The premium version has unlimited logo-free recording and includes video editing tools (currently in the Alpha testing phase), such as cropping, trimming, splitting, and merging, with the developer promising more in the future. Premium subscribers can also use any web browser to edit videos on their drive -- not just those recorded in the extension. For users who need help getting started, a significant amount of support and ideas for use are available on the web, both on the developer's own site and through independent reviews and YouTube videos.

The use of customizable video in the classroom has never been so simple. Screencastify makes screen recording easily accessible for teachers and kids alike. Whether using a flipped classroom model, giving students feedback, creating professional development modules, or giving students the freedom to create their own screen recordings, video can be a powerful educational tool that brings content to life. However, teachers will want to avoid using Screencastify as yet another lecture tool. Creating engaging videos requires more than a screen recorder and a face. Teachers and students will want to start the process with an outline and maybe even a script to ensure that they're not filling their videos with filler words, awkward pauses, unclear or off-topic statements, or boring content. Teachers should take advantage of the opportunity to teach public speaking skills in a relevant context, perhaps using TED talks, famous speeches, or popular YouTube videos to study how orators engage audiences in their content.

Screencastify's available tools, recording options, and functionality strike a nice balance, giving options without going overboard or causing confusion. Teachers who foresee making lots of videos -- or assigning kids to make their own videos -- may want to look into the premium or educator plans. With creativity and up-front design, this versatile tool opens up many possibilities for driving learning through screencasts.

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Used well, screencasts can be a fun way to communicate with students, let students create content, and expand the learning environment beyond the classroom.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Learning potential depends on how teachers use this tool to connect with students, but the ease of use makes Screencastify a go-to tool in many contexts.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

Users will have no problem getting started with the breadth of support and ideas for classroom integration available on the developer's site, social media, and via independently produced content.


Common Sense Reviewer
Marianne Rogowski Media specialist/librarian

Teacher Reviews

(See all 11 reviews) (11 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Sandy W. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Catalyst Charter Middle School
Ripon, WI
Versatile and Easy Way for Screen Capture
Screencastify worked well for recording student work or for modeling strategies in the classroom. It is easy to learn and offers students a means to record themselves in a "YouTube" style. I was surprised by the difference in the quality of work that I received using this extension compared to a live presentation. I did prepare a document with links to the tutorials for using this program and how to share the file to make it easier for students since there was an unlimited amount available from the company. I especially liked the engagement factor and ownership that was inevitable with this program.
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