With more people flipping their classrooms and teaching online screencasting has become a popular way to deliver content. Screencasting is a video recording of what occurs on a computer screen. Normally, computer screencasting apps will allow you to record anything that you do on the computer. Screencasting on an iPad is slightly different. Currently there is no app that records everything that you do on the iPad but there are apps that let you record many of the things that you would use in a lecture or a lesson. Over the past few days I tested ten different screencasting apps (some paid, some free). While they all allow for voice recording over a whiteboard many of them offered extra features that set them apart from each other. I was looking for the ability to add presentations, images and files, a whiteboard, and overall flexibility. The iPad Screencasting App Matrix is a full matrix of each app’s features, price and restrictions. Below are the apps that I evaluated and my thoughts of each. Keep in mind that this is my opinion. I encourage you to choose a couple and try them yourself.
Playback is a free screencasting app. It’s primary focus is as a whiteboard app. You can create a Playback session from an image or a PDF but you have to do it at the beginning, before you begin the recording. You can’t add images or PDFs on the fly. What I don’t like is that you have to open these PDFs and images from Dropbox or your iPad and then send them to Playback. Playback also has the ability to record the camera on the iPad (see image 1). It allows you to have the small camera image in the upper corner or you can have it display larger in the middle of the screen, which is a unique feature. However, on playback, the video in the corner, shot from the camera, was way behind the audio and it was very distracting.
Explain Everything ($2.99)
This is my personal favorite. It allows the most flexibility of any of the apps I looked at. You can import most any file type (doc(x), ppt(x), xls(x), pdf, jpg) which gives you so much freedom. You can also insert a web browser that allows you some basic web navigating to allow you to show websites and discuss them. You can also insert video and audio files. All of these can be added on fly while recording the session. Because it has so many features it is not as easy to use as some of the others and zooming and scrolling requires a special tool instead of just allowing you to pinch and stretch like other apps. It does allow you to add a video recorded with the iPad camera but it’s not a constant recording like in Playback. Overall, I think it’s worth the time to learn to use it.
ShowMe is a simple to use app and is good for those who are wanting a whiteboard app for uses such as explaining math problems or diagramming. You can only use the whiteboard feature and import images from the Camera Roll. When it comes time to export and share you upload it to ShowMe’s public website. This makes it easy to share with your students via a web link but it’s also available to anyone who goes to the public site. I don’t like that you can’t import other formats or from anywhere else but the Camera Roll. For me, I like an easy upload but I also like to have the option to save it to my Camera Roll so I can edit it if necessary. One feature that I didn’t like was that the recording paused when I added an image. I’m assuming this was to save recording time but the problem I encountered was remembering to turn the recording back on after I added the image. I ended up annotating and speaking over the better part of a slide that didn’t record due to this feature.
Knowmia Teach (free)
Knowmia offers many of the same features in Explain Everything but with the iPad camera recording like in Playback. There are several things I really like about this app. First it is set up in Stages and you can record each stage or slide individually instead of recording straight through like in other apps. There is also a area at the bottom where you can add additional items that you can bring into the session on the fly. It’s feature rich and fairly easy to use. My two complaints are as follows: First, while free to both instructors and students, videos created with the student account are only kept on their server for 30 days then they disappear. They are not downloadable so they can’t be kept. Second, it kept freezing up on my. I estimate it froze 10 times while trying to create a 5 slide session.
These are just a few of the apps that I tested out. For a full listing of the features compared check out the iPad Screencasting App Matrix. If you are interested in incorporating any of these apps into your course contact your Instructional Technologist. We’re happy to help.