Screencasts have played an important part of my day to day coaching and teaching during our continuous learning program. They save me from writing long, detailed emails and are very helpful when working with a wide range of learners from kindergarten students to teachers.
I try to make my screencasts fit the following expectations I created:
- Precise, yet addresses the learning outcome, question or objective
- Familiar by using the device the majority of my audience will be using
- Visually appealing (cropped appropriately, simple titles, mouse cursor to highlight if appropriate)
- Clear audio (easy to understand for English language learners)
- Quick to create
I’ve compiled my top 4 tips for making beautiful, yet easy screencasts. These are tech tips, but don’t let the tech overpower your screencasts. Take the time to think about the objective of each screencast and invest the amount of time that is right for your objective. The tips I’ve created below help learners (from young to a bit older) follow along with easy.
Find the right screencasting tools
I work with three screencasting tools – the built in iOS screencasting tool, Screencastify and Loom. Each has their advantages and it depends on my purpose on which I chose.
iOS screencasting tool – it’s easy and built in to iPadOS/iOS. Check out how to get it working on this video:
Screencastify – I love that it saves directly to Google Drive. For quick Mac screencasts, it’s my go-to.
Loom – I tend to use Loom for more polished/professional Mac screencasts. I like how when it adds your webcam to the screencast it puts you in a nice circle. Very aesthetically pleasing! Check out my Creating safe class meetings using Zoom post as an example of what Zoom recordings look like.
Use a mouse with the iPad
Yes, you read that right. My first few screencasts with the iPad were very time-consuming because I was creating boxes and arrows in post-processing to show users where to tap – it was a disaster and not worth it. Thankfully, Aaron, our database manager, recommended connecting a bluetooth mouse to the iPad. When you do that via accessibility option you give a perfect circle cursor that your learners can follow on the screen. While I’m sure Apple would prefer we use the Magic Mouse, an inexpensive Logitech bluetooth mouse works perfectly.
Check out how to configure and connect your iPad and mouse in this video:
Use a microphone
Built-in laptop microphones aren’t the best for screencasts. They work in a pinch, but if you want clear sound without your audience hearing everything in the background, an external microphone is the way to go.
My microphone of choice recently has been a Shure SM58 with an MVi Digital Audio Interface. For the price point, I find it quite clean and clear. I’d love to give the SM7B a try, but 400 USD is a bit of a stretch for some screencasts.
However, while you can easily spend a small fortune on a great external microphone, I’ve actually had very good luck with the wired Apple EarPods. They are cheap and sound quite good.
Find an editing workflow
After recording my screencast using iOS’s bult in screen recorder I do some very light editing. Convenience is key for me, so instead of moving the video file over to my laptop, I do everything directly on the iPad. iMovie is an option, and great for being free, but I’ve decided to upgrade to LumaFusion – a video editing app for iOS that offers a few more features than iMovie. My LumaFusion workflow looks a bit like this:
- Create a new project and title is correctly
- Import the video of the screen recording from the iOS Camera Roll
- Do any necessary cropping (taking out the first and last seconds, removing any long pauses, etc)
- Add a title that I created and saved as a preset
- Export the video file directly to Google Drive (and then share it from the Google Drive app or my laptop)
As you can see, it’s fast and easy. LumaFusion helps a lot as it allows me to save a custom title and export directly to Google Drive – something that would take a few extra clicks in iMovie.
The final project
As an example, here is what a typical screencast looks like:
What are your top tips? What workflows work best for you? I’d be keen to hear your thoughts in the comments below!