Screencasting in Chrome

I can recall having a discussion with my superintendent years ago.  YouTube was blocked to student and teacher desktops within the district and yet access was very desirable by some.  Teachers knew exactly what they wanted to do – things like watching Super Bowl videos and creating instructional videos on their own.  The argument against access could be seen daily as students would find ingenious ways to get around the content filter to be able to watch music videos.  I smile when I think back about the issue being watching music videos instead of circumventing a filter…

Ironically, at the time, I was creating videos for myself and my colleagues including superintendents, and making them available through our intranet.  I was then, and still am now, a big fan of Camtasia.  Techsmith does great work coding utilities to give us all kinds of power.  Under Ubuntu, there is no Techsmith product but RecordMyDesktop does the job for me.  The video can be such a powerful tool in education.

Now, I think you would have to look far and very hard to find someone who hasn’t used an online video for any of a number purposes.  It’s just so prevalent.

I’ve been following the development of a Google Chrome extension called Screencastify.  It fills a niche quite nicely.  It allows the user to create a screencast right within the Google Chrome browser.

Screencastify is still under development so it’s not surprising that it doesn’t have a complete suite of editing tools.  But, for free, it installs in Google Chrome (not Opera Next, by the way), you click the filmstrip icon and begin to interact with the currently open tab. Your actions are recorded, along with the option of having your voice recorded and your beautiful image appear in the window.

As you’re recording, you can even monitor what’s being captured in a separate window.

When you stop recording, a copy of your efforts is stored, ready for you to take the next step – including uploading your efforts to YouTube (provided you have access…)  Locally, it’s a *.webm file which plays quite nicely back in Google Chrome or VLC.  Uploading to YouTube though takes all the compatibility issues away.

Screencastify runs very smoothly as I test it.  It’s not the full-featured product that others offer, but it doesn’t pretend to be at this point in its development.  It offers the same options to Windows, Macintosh, Linux, and Chromebook users.  As long as you have it installed in your instance of Google Chrome, you should be all set.  As you’ll notice above, capturing the “Desktop” is experimental.  That opens the door to even more options for those who use this extension.

And now, for something I found extremely interesting.  As you know, when you install an extension into your browser, a dialogue appears to give you complete details about what you’re actually allowing the extension to do with your computer.  When you go to the Google Chrome store to install this extension, take the time to read the overview.  The developers have taken the time to explain exactly what the implications of the warning messages are.  I found that to be an excellent education in itself.

If you’re into screencasting, looking at flipping a classroom, or wanting to provide a recording environment for your students and you’re using Google Chrome, you’ve got to check it out.  It doesn’t take long to install and your first experience recording will be very quick.  You’ll be that multi-media developer you’ve always wanted to be in a short period of time.


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