Website review by James Denby, Common Sense Education | Updated June 2021

Vmaker

Simple, easy screencast creator with room to grow

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Grades
4–12
Subjects & Skills
Communication & Collaboration, Creativity

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Pros: Easy to get up and going. No watermarks and unlimited recording. Free version is solid.

Cons: Competing tools offer more. Controls show in recordings unless you hide them.

Bottom Line: This is a competitive entrant into the screencasting field and leans into ease-of-use and fewer restrictions vs. tons of features.

Screencasting tools like Vmaker have obvious uses for fully online learning, but they also have two key uses in traditional classrooms: instructional videos and learning documentation. Used as an instructional support, Vmaker can help teachers record presentations, lessons, or even analyses of work samples for students to access whenever they need to. As a tool to document learning, Vmaker can help students record think-alouds, presentations, or reflections on work.

For teachers striving for a flipped or more inclusive classroom, Vmaker videos can be a simple but important step toward making sure content is available to all students. Because students can access materials whenever they need to using almost any device, teacher time in the classroom can be more focused on direct support rather than answering questions about instructions. Similarly, for students who need to review important concepts, having materials available at any time makes it possible to explore ideas independently or just re-watch things to make content stick. Both are steps towards greater self-efficacy while also freeing up teachers to work more closely with students in class rather than standing at the front of the class explaining. Since Vmaker is so simple to use, it's a great option for teachers looking to experiment with this instructional model without having to learn any complicated software. Note that if you want your mouse to be visible or to draw on screen you'll need the paid version.

For students using Vmaker, screencasts offer the potential of creating their own presentations to showcase and document learning. It'll be pretty easy for students to use, and being able to show off -- and talk through -- their work could be a great mode of assessment for some students. During collaborative projects, students could also record short messages for each other to talk through their work. This can help keep projects going at home or over weekends. 

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Vmaker is a screen recording and video creation tool. With Vmaker, users can record their screen, webcam (and microphone), or both. After recording, users can make basic edits to the videos (trimming, flipping or rotating the image), and then download or publish videos to share to platforms ranging from YouTube to Twitter as well as embedding them in blogs or learning management systems. Notably, Vmaker doesn't add a watermark to videos and allows for unlimited recording.

Teachers can access Vmaker for free (though there are paid options with more features like drawing tools and 4K videos). As of this review, it's available via a macOS app or installing the Chrome browser extension. Recordings can be saved to your device or to the web-based dashboard. Paid versions allow for collaboration via shared workspaces.

Like any screen recording or screencasting tool, Vmaker helps students interact with recorded learning content at their own pace and in their own way. For a student who might struggle with a concept, a screencast a teacher might've recorded with Vmaker makes it possible to revisit a presentation multiple times. Being able to pause, make notes, and identify difficulties empowers students as learners. By recording and distributing content, teachers can move from the front of the class to work with individuals or small groups of students to differentiate. 

Though screencasting has clear uses in the learning environment, Vmaker has competition from similar tools. Vmaker's main strength is that there are no distracting watermarks whatsoever, there aren't any recording limits, and it's super easy to install and start using. That said, other tools are more robust and seem to have a stronger focus on schools. A couple more popular competitors, for example, allow for easy integration with Google, an important feature for many schools. Others include drawing tools with the free version which some teachers might see as a must have. Vmaker is in development, however, so it's something to keep an eye on as it grows, even if it's not quite the top choice at the moment. Still, for some teachers it might offer the perfect blend of features to solve simple screencasting needs.

Overall Rating

Engagement

Create video presentations, messages, and screencasts easily after just a few clicks. Solid performance. Editing could be improved, and it's missing some features.

Pedagogy

It's not designed specifically for schools, but it has tons of potential. Both students and teachers can use it, and it helps expand what assessment can be.

Support

Recording is quite intuitive. Onboarding is sufficient but could be better. Editing may take some trial and error. There's an online workshop that explores Vmaker's potential.


Common Sense reviewer
James Denby Educator/Curriculum Developer

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