Screencasting Apps for the iPad

Teaching ourselves, our students and other educators how to use screenshooting (images) and screencasting (video) tools is a relevant skill to have that integrates in so many areas. Think Tutorial Designers (A role from the Digital Learning Farm) or the Flipped Classroom model. Being able to create, share and take advantage of readily available screencasts touch upon so many of the skills (create, communicate) and literacies (network, media, information literacy).

Maybe you have never heard about screencasting, have not paid much attention to it and/or have never tried to create one of your own. Or maybe you have plenty of experience in creating  your own screencasts and incorporated screencasting into your lessons or assessments before. Maybe you feel screencasting to be a basic, one of the most important or an essential teaching and learning skill for you as an educator or for your students to have.

I agree with many others who say that:

Screencasting also has taken on an important role in the area of an emerging trend which is the Flipped Classroom Model.  You can read more about it here and here.

Screencasting software ranges from basic to elaborate, from free to expensive. Alan November mentioned in one of his presentations about the Digital Learning Farm this summer that he would recommend Jing Project (free) and make it the FIRST software to teach to EVERY students. (Take a look at his Screencasting handout)

My favorite Screenshooting software for the mac is Skitch and SnagIt (which is also available for the PC). Now that I am using my iPad more and more, I am eager to transfer the screenshooting and screencasting abilities to my mobile device. It seems that I am not the only one, since over the last few months three apps for the iPad have emerged. Rumor has it that Skitch is coming out with their own app for the iPad soon.

The first one, I tried out was Show Me App (free). You can read my review on my post titled ShowMe App for the iPad- Good Tutorial Designer App?. The developers are really listening to their users and are constantly updating and upgrading the app. Features that I felt were missing when I beta tested the app, have been included in their updates. I still am missing options of being able to export my final movie anywhere else, but upload them to the ShowMe site.

The next one to appear in the iTunes store was ScreenChomp (free) by TechSmith (Same company than Jing and SnagIt)

Just as with the ShowMe app, this one allows you to import images from your Photo library and use them as the background to your screencast. You can choose from an array of colored markers (just hold down your finger on one of the markers to choose a different color)

The app automatically uploads the video file to the site and gives you a link that you can share, email or tweet. There is no need to create an account to be able to upload (as opposed to the ShowMe app), but there is also no (easy) way of deleting a video that was created and uploaded. There is an option to contact the company and request to have inappropriate or offensive content deleted.

The third app that I have tested out is Explain Everything. This one comes at a cost of $2.99, but also gives me more options.

The first options that I immediately liked was

  • The button to choose arrows, shapes, and lines to include in the screencast (Customize with colors, thickness and border)
  • The ability to type (not just use handwriting)
  • Have  the build-in ability to crop (design your own crop by drawing the lines around the area, instead of a traditional rectangular cropping area)
  • Importing images do NOT have to solely come from the iPad Photo roll, but can also be imported from the camera, Dropbox and Evernote.
  • The different pieces you draw, type or import become objects that can individually be manipulated (resized, deleted and are treated to be a on a layer that can be send to back, front, etc)
  • The app is set up to create different slides (just as PowerPoint or Keynote), move the order of the slides and give me the opportunity to use it in presentation mode.

  • Import ability of images, PowerPoint and Keynote files that can be opened via your email, through Dropbox and Evernote.
  • Export features: I am not forced to upload the video file to the company’s site. I have CHOICES! I can export a screenshot of the slide I created to my Photo Roll (this feature is huge for me, since I can now import the movie file directly from here into iMovie on the iPad and make the screencast part of a larger movie), via e-mail, to Dropbox or Evernote.

ExplainEverything uses the word “workflow” on their support site, but it is what I called “iPad Fluency“, the ability to easily move between apps, bring in files and send them on to other apps that I might be working with or have access to on my other devices.

I am willing to pay for an app, if it supports my fluency!

A feature that is still missing from all three apps, is the ability to record my screen as I am using the browser or other apps on the iPad. I know I am able to take individual screenshots of what I am doing, then import them into the app to create the screencast, BUT that hinders my fluency. It adds an additional step, that I am accustomed to not having to take on my laptop.

I am thrilled that screencasting apps are becoming available for the iPad and can’t wait to be able to use them with students AND teachers to work on 21st century skills and help empower learners.

Here is my first attempt of a screencast with the Explain Everything app : Upgrade to the 21st Century Skills/Literacies/Digital Learning Farm template. (Download the templates as a PDF)