Screencastin’ ain’t that easy

Hello everyone and WELCOME!

For this week’s blog prompt, we were asked to choose and review a content creating tool that we have never used before. I chose to review Screencastify because I have always wanted to try a screencasting app, but never really had a good reason to go out of my way to try one until now.

So…What is it?
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What is Screencastify? Screencastify is an app that allows you to record everything that is happening on your screen. The program allows you to record audio so that you can narrate and describe what you are doing as it’s happening in real-time.

I was initially drawn to this tool when I watched some of Katia Hilderbrandt’s video tutorials she posted on our Google Community page for some FAQ’s about WordPress. I found her narration extremely helpful, especially when you’re trying to navigate through a website.

So before I move on, I wanted to mention that I recorded a lengthy video review of Screencastify using the app itself. Unfortunately, due to some technical difficulties, I wasn’t able to convert the file under a different format, completely tearing my dreams of starting my first “Vlog” type of response for my blog. Anyway, here’s the written form, which will have to do for now!

So upset
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First impressions

PROS

Woo hoo!
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Alright, the app is easy to use. I mean, you install it and it’s ready to go, so it really can’t get easier than that! The menus are straight-forward and user-friendly. There are a few settings you can mess around with; overall, a very simple-to-use application that anyone can use.

Secondly, I really liked the video and audio quality. It’s not GREAT, but it’s usable and I think having a feature to record your audio in real-time as you’re navigating your mouse across the screen is an excellent tool. The app also features the ability to record video through your webcam. So not only are you able to talk, but people are able to see YOU too. Pretty cool, especially once you get the hang of doing all of these at once.

Thirdly, once I finished recording the video, I liked that you could save the file onto your desktop OR to your Google Drive. Having access to your files on any device using cloud-based storage is the way to go these days… if this DIDN’T have this feature, I’d be upset.

CONS

THIS IS SO FRUSTRATING!
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Alright, so maybe I didn’t look hard enough, but I didn’t like that you couldn’t pause your recording. I know most people aren’t going to be pausing their video constantly, but I would have liked a feature that allowed me to briefly pause my screencast, rather than have me completely end the recording session altogether. The reason why I’m picking at this is because after I finished my first recording, I found that editing my video wasn’t so easy. This was partly due to the fact that my video-editing software doesn’t recognize the format it was initially saved as. I have ways around this (video converting sites such as http://www.online-convert.com for example), where I can convert files to other formats; but when you’re working with massive files, this process turns into a tedious and time-consuming process.

I think a simple editing tool would have been a great addition to this app. I’m not sure what the premium edition has to offer, but I couldn’t find any indication of this type of feature regardless of whether or not we were paying full price or not. Being able to quickly clip out and cut away parts that you may want to discard or edit out would be a dream come true for this type of software.

The framerate of the screencasts is decent, but definitely gets choppy, especially if you were to record some type of video or audio playing off your desktop. I wouldn’t use it to play videos through my screencast, but for simpler tasks, the program gets the job done just fine.

LAST BUT NOT LEAST! MY BIGGEST COMPLAINT!

This thing saves your videos and all, but it saves them under a weird “.webm” format that I had never seen before. As I mentioned earlier, this caused major problems. In a matter of fact, I had so much trouble trying to convert my video into a format that my video-editing software would recognize, that I flat-out gave up. I spent almost three hours trying to figure this out, until I reached a point of defeat. I looked for ways to save my files under a different format, but had no luck. As far as weaknesses go, THIS made my whole initial good impressions of Screencastify completely fade away! You should be able to select the format you save these files under, otherwise what’s the point? Again, if any of you know whether or not this is possible, please let me know, because…. Damn…

I’ve officially lost it…
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PEDAGOGICAL USES?

As for teaching purposes, I find Screencastify to be very useful, especially if we were to use it in a blended learning type of environment. Being able to record screencasts allows us to easily create content for tutorials and online lessons within minutes (especially if you figure out how to get past this file conversion roadblock).

I think I would definitely give Screencastify a shot, especially since I intended to bring these types of online teaching elements into my project prototype.

I urge anyone that has ever used this (or is fairly knowledgeable with it), to hit me up with some tips. I mean, CAN you save your videos in a different format, or are they always saved as .webm’s? Any suggestions will help!

Thanks for reading everyone and I hope you all have a great week!

Dre

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5 thoughts on “Screencastin’ ain’t that easy”

  1. I also tried out Screencastify this week. I agree with you, that it is simple to install and use and incredibly practical for teaching a quick lesson. As far as your frustrations go, I might be able to help out a little bit. First of all, I was able to to pause my videos as I was recording. There should be a little pause icon on the tool bar at the bottom of the screen cast (try ALT T if it doesn’t show up). It pauses the recording and resumes when you click it again. In the actual video, after you stop the recording, it cuts and resumes just like you would expect. Second, and more importantly, I also was trying to figure out the video format change. You can use an online video converter, however, I found a video showing how you can convert it to an MP4 file using YouTube as a sort of converter.

    The guy on the video isn’t the smoothest, but I tried out his method, and it does work. Basically, you publish your videos to your own YouTube channel privately, then download the youtube video as an MP4 and you can use it to put into any other editing program you want. I’m not sure how this will affect the quality of the video, but maybe it is worth checking out if you are still interested in using Screencastify.
    Hope this helps!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Okay, so this is an extremely useful reply! Huge help right here! I’ll have to give it a try, as retaining video quality is a big thing for me. And after revisiting the app, I did finally notice the pause button! Thanks a million! Maybe I’ll get that video to work after all 😉

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  2. I have never used Screencastify before but have used Screencast-o-matic. You can only get up to 15 minutes with the free version, but you are able to pause and rewind the recording even if you make an error or want to go back and fix it. I have found that it works great. I have also recently started using my SMART board in my classroom to make screencasts. You can capture whatever is being projected onto your board as well as anything you write on it. The app or driver used to record it is called SMARTrecorder. You can save it as a .wmv file (I believe) and then upload it to youtube. I do like the fact that Screencastify lets you save to Google Drive, but can see the problem with the file that it saves to. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Hey, thanks for the reply! I’ll have to check out screencast-o-matic, I’ve noticed a few people name dropping it lately. The one I used was great, minus my issues I had with it. I’m hoping a little more work on these apps will get me more up to date on how to use them quickly and efficiently. I think today I lost some steam because of my roadblock. I can’t let these things get to me! Anyway, thanks again and good to hear that you’re using that smart board, sounds pretty sweet!

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