Product Review of Screencast-O-Matic
Screencast-O-Matic is a screen recorder that allows educators and learners to record, trim, edit, save, and share screencasts. With the free download, users can produce screencasts with or without a webcam and choose from options that include adding a description, assigning to a channel, or password-protecting the video. Those wanting to create more sophisticated videos may want to consider the Deluxe plan; cash-strapped educators may find the $1.65-per-month price point doable, especially considering that it comes with a full editing suite, drawing tools, overlays, audio options, and longer recording times. There’s also a Premier plan at $4.00 per month, which adds hosting and secure backup. Educators can access their videos and launch the recorder or editor from the video hosting site. The editor is full of functionality, and once you get the hang of it, you can clip, modify, caption, and combine videos. There are also features like transitions and music that other tools don’t have. If you leave out important details, you can create or import additional videos and drop them into an existing recording, so you won’t have to start over.
The platform also keeps growing. Recent additions include a free screenshot tool and, in the paid versions, sound effects, scripted recordings, a stock library (in beta), and a custom video player with controls.
By producing your own screencasts with Screencast-O-Matic, you can communicate expectations, ideas, and assignments in a palatable way for you and your learners. Flip your classroom, provide video feedback on writing assignments, initiate 1-to-1 video conversations with learners, or create your own Khan Academy-style videos, complete with drawing and narration. Learners will like seeing your face and hearing the consistency of your explanations, and parents will be able to help their learners without contradicting what they learned in class. Involve parents further by replacing your traditional newsletter with a brief weekly video about class happenings or a short daily “What did I miss?” screencast to keep absent kids in the loop.
Learner-produced screencasts are useful for everything from formative assessments to passion projects. For ELA or a foreign language, let learners record a read-aloud and reflection to assess fluency and comprehension without putting them on the spot. In science, take the traditional lab sheet online by having kids record observations or explain a procedure for conducting an experiment. Consider a digital gallery walk through learners’ videos with opportunities to comment via your school’s learning management system (LMS) for presentations. If you use it, though, educate learners about their digital footprint. Although users can choose not to make videos searchable, curiosity or human error might lead learners to share videos publicly. Reminding learners about the consequences of sharing personally identifiable information online is best.
Screencast-O-Matic’s big differentiator from other screencasting tools is its depth. There are more features and functionality for making videos — not just recordings — whether for instructional purposes or for presentation and assessment. With Screencast-O-Matic, learners can truly produce their own recordings, giving them a chance to show what they know and make thoughtful edits and modifications for clarity, correctness, and audience engagement. Screencast-O-Matic’s editing tools allow learners to clip, combine, or add to videos and add overlays, arrows, captions, and more before submitting. Learners can gain skills that translate to more sophisticated editing programs like Adobe Premiere.
Even if you don’t want to dig fully into everything the tool has to offer, simple features like the screenshot tool support quick assessment opportunities. Taking a quick screenshot or doing an unedited screen recording is pretty easy and can offer a quick way to check learner progress on an essay, report, or word problem.
The big downside with Screencast-O-Matic is that it requires both time and patience to use some of the tools, and it’s not quite as simple and intuitive as competitors. The editing, while full of features, can get frustrating. It strikes, at times, an awkward balance between simplicity and complexity — not quite satisfying the expectations of either. If you take the time to work through these quirks, the videos you can make with Screencast-O-Matic will far outpace those made with other tools.
Overall User Consensus About the App
This tool can easily captivate learners if they’re producing the videos themselves, but they’ll need the drive to figure out the relatively complex editing tools.
Curriculum and Instruction
Learners can learn the whole process of video creation via Screencast-O-Matic’s robust suite of features.
Setup is easy, and the user interface is functional although complex. Tutorials for features are a big plus. In the paid versions, there are options to add features that support learners with unique needs.