Educators, the world over, are now actively looking for better ways to deliver their services online. Distant learning is now the new normal. And “distant” in this case doesn’t necessarily mean overseas – it’s more like remote.
One of the tools that can help you accomplish the task of teaching remotely is Screencastify. But you don’t have to be an educator to use screencastify. Anyone who needs to record and share a video of their screen or make a webcam recording can use this easy-to-use tool.
What Is Screencastify?
Screencastify is a free screen recording tool designed as a Google Chrome extension. To use the tool, you need to be using the Chrome web browser. There is a paid plan as well as a discount if you’re using the tool for educational purposes.
The free option gives you access to all the video recording features, including trimming and annotation. However, you can only record up to 5 minutes of video. After recording, your video is automatically saved on Google Drive (if you choose that option during setup).
You can also publish the video to YouTube, export it as MP4, MP3, and GIF, and share it to Google Classroom. And although it is a free version, there are no watermarks in your videos!
If you want to use the free version but are worried about the 5 minutes recording time limit, consider making short video recordings and then piecing them together afterward.
In addition to all the awesome features in the free version, the paid plan offers unlimited recording time. It also features more powerful editing features, including adding text over clips, cropping of recordings, and merging videos and recorder clips. You also get priority support with the paid plan.
Installing and Setting Up the Extension
Visit screencastify.com or go to Chrome web store to install the extension. Make sure you are using a Chrome web browser. Click the Add to Chrome button and then click Add extension in the dialog box that comes up.
After installation, you’ll need to go through a one-time setup process to get screencastify up and running. To do that:
- Click on the screencastify icon.
- Sign in to the extension with your Google account. You’ll notice that the option to save your recordings to Google Drive automatically is selected by default. Leave the selection that way for the best experience with screencastify.
- Select the checkboxes to allow screencastify to have access to your microphone, webcam, and to record your screen. Without granting these permissions, you’ll not be able to use the extension optimally. Now click next.
- The final step in the setup process is to introduce yourself. Simply indicate if you are an educator.
That’s it! Screencastify is ready to start recording your screen. A screen with dropping confetti is displayed to confirm that you are good to go!
With only four areas, navigating screencastify is pretty straightforward. The pages include:
- Recording Control Panel: This is the screen where you choose your screencast setting. It is the first window that comes up when you click the screencastify extension.
- Main Menu: Click the three horizontal lines at the top left corner of the recording control panel to access the main menu. The main menu allows you to:
- Sign out or switch accounts
- Adjust screencastify options
- See all your recordings
- Get help
- Video Page: This page comes up automatically after you finish a recording. On this page, you can:
- Rename your recording
- Edit your recording
- Share your recording
- Export (download) your recording
- Delete your recording
- My Recordings: This is a library of all your recordings or videos. To access this page, click My Recordings from the main menu or click the play icon at the top right corner of the recording control panel.
On this page, you can:
- See the list of all your recordings
- Directly view your videos that are saved on your Google Drive
- Delete recordings one at a time or all at once
How to Make Screen Recordings
Before you start recording, you need to choose exactly what you want to record. Screencastify offers three recording options. They are:
- Browser Tab: Use this option if you want to record and share the content of a tab on Chrome with your audience, for example, a Google Slides presentation
- Desktop: Use this option to record and share the content of your desktop or other programs, for example, a PowerPoint presentation
- Webcam only: If you prefer to record yourself teaching, talking, or presenting, instead of something on your screen, this is the option to use
To select your microphone and webcam, use the pull-down arrows in front of those options. You can adjust other options by clicking Show more options.
By default, screencastify has a 3-second countdown before it starts recording. To change the countdown time, click the pull-down arrow in front of the Countdown option. You can toggle between switching on or off the rest of the options, including the countdown.
Note: Turning on the System Audio option enables you to record audio from any program on your computer (for example, audio player) or webpage (such as YouTube). However, recording audio only works when you are recording a browser tab or a full-screen.
When you are happy with your choices, hit the Record button to start recording.
During recording, a small toolbar containing a couple of tools will appear at the bottom of the screen. You can use the tools to pause your recording, add drawings to the video, annotate, highlight clicks, highlight the position of the mouse pointer to draw attention, and so much more.
When you are finished, click the Stop sharing button.
Saving Your Recording
With screencastify, you do not need to save your recording manually. As soon as you click the Stop sharing button, your video is saved automatically to your Google Drive in the Screencastify folder, and the Video Page comes up where you can edit your video before sharing. For first time saving, a handful of callouts will pop up to give you a quick tour of the Video Page.
But if your recording is saved automatically, how do you choose a name for it? Simple; click on the title bar of your recording in screencastify and give it any name you want.
Click the title bar to rename your recording.
And while we are still on the subject of organizing records, here are a few things to remember.
- Renaming a video in screencastify will automatically change its name on your Google Drive too
- Deleting a video in screencastify will also delete the recording from your Google Drive
- Moving a recording from the Screencastify folder in Google Drive will make it inaccessible from My Recordings page in screencastify
Editing Your Video
Once you finish recording your video, you can edit it from the Video Page. The editor allows you to:
- Add, rearrange, and remove recordings from the timeline (more on this later)
- Cut off parts of the recording that you don’t want using the Trim tool
- Crop your video to display a specific portion of the screen using the Crop tool
- Add text to your video recording using the Text tool
You can access screencastify editor in any of the following ways
- Click the Open in Editor button at the top of the recording control panel
- Click the scissors icon on the Video Page
- Select a video in your Google Drive and click Open with Screencastify Video Editor
- Go to edit.screencastify.com
Make sure that your video is saved on your Google Drive before loading another recording to the editor. Loading a new project to the editor will delete any previous project in the editor.
Adding, Rearranging, and Removing Clips from the Timeline
The video editor lets you add as many clips to the timeline as you want and also merge them. To add clips:
- Click the blue plus button just above the timeline
- Choose the location of your clip (from your computer or Google Drive)
- Select the clip you want to add to the timeline. Do this for as many clips you want to add
You may want to rearrange the order of your clips. All it takes is to drag and drop the clip to a new location on the timeline
Deleting clips from the timeline is pretty straightforward. To remove a clip or video from the timeline:
- Click the clip on the timeline
- Press the delete key on your keyboard or click the trashcan icon
Sharing Your Recording
As soon as your recording is saved to your Google Drive, a sharable link is created automatically. You can copy the link and share it with your audience. Alternatively, you can use the Share option to:
- Share your recording on Google Classroom. Under the Share option, select the Share to Classroom option. A Google Classroom page is opened where you can post the recording as an announcement, question, assignment, or study material.
- Publish your video directly to YouTube without leaving screencastify. You need to have a YouTube account and channel. Select the Publish to YouTube option and allow screencastify to access your YouTube account. Granting this permission is done only the first time you use this option. Choose your preferred YouTube channel, decide on a privacy setting, add a description if you want, and then click Upload. Keep in mind that if you have published a video on YouTube, deleting it from screencastify does not remove it from YouTube.
- Get an HTML code that you can paste into any webpage to embed your recording. To do this, select the Get embed code option and click the Copy embed code button.
- Send your video link to others via email by clicking the Send in email option.
- Generate a QR code that anyone can scan to access your recording.
Exporting Your Recording
You can export your recording as mp4, WebM, GIF, and mp3. To export your video, select the Download option from the Video Page and choose any of the following:
- WebM format – this is a high-quality video that suits most browsers and some video players too.
- Click the Download option
- The recording will start downloading automatically as a WebM file
- Mp4 format – this will convert your recording to a standard mp4 file
- Click the Export as MP4 option
- Choose a fixed frame rate
- Click Export. Your recording will be processed
- When processing is finished, click the download button that appears to download your mp4 video
- MP3 format – this will extract the audio from your recording in mp3 format.
- Click the Export audio-only option.
- Click on the download button that appears after processing to download your mp3 file.
- GIF format – this allows your recording to be exported as an animated GIF.
- Click the Export animated GIF option and select your GIF dimension
- Click Export. Your recording will be processed into GIF format
- When processing is complete, a download button will appear. Click it to download your GIF
Don’t forget that GIF files are usually short. It may not be possible to export a lengthy, high-quality recording in GIF format.
Note: You may need to make a quick recording, but you don’t have an internet connection. You can use screencastify even when you are offline. However, only a limited number of features are available when you don’t have an internet connection.
You cannot share or publish your videos. Also, your recordings will not be saved on Google Drive until you get back online.
Saving and sharing features are unavailable when offline.
Using screencastify to record your screen is as easy as following the steps above. Easy, right? Now physical proximity cannot stand in your way. Install the screencastify extension, record your screen, and share all you want!