Accessibility is a key focus when designing lessons, and one key component of of many lessons is utilizing videos. Educators use videos in the face-to-face classroom, virtual classroom, and hybrid classroom. Videos can be shown whole class with pauses to engage in discussion or independently to allow students to go at their own pace.
As teacher/student created videos are becoming more popular in the classroom, it is important that the videos are accessible to ALL diverse learning needs. To ensure access, videos should provide multiple means of engagement, multiple means of action and expression, and multiple means of representation. Videos should provide opportunities for meaningful participation by creating additional opportunities for understanding content. Classroom teachers have a plethora of videos on YouTube to choose from, but often times creating a new video will ensure access and clear connections.
Recording with Screencastify
Screencastify is a popular freemium tool that allows teachers and students to create videos. With the free version, teachers and students can record up to five minutes of video. Editing can take place directly in the browser-based platform and videos can be downloaded to many different platforms or turned in as an assignment. Screencastify allows users to record their screen and/or webcam (you can even record audio only). Here are some other accessibility tools built into the recording platform:
- Focus Mouse: user can highlight key areas on their screen to draw the audiences attention to specific content.
- Hide Curser: prevents the audience from getting distracted by a curser that is not moving during a video (creates a clean video).
- Highlight Clicks: adds a circle around the content each time something on a site is clicked on.
- Pause/Play, Stop, & Restart: user does not have to leave the platform or piece together multiple videos if a mistake is made or a pause is needed.
- Pen: user can draw directly on the screen and there are a variety of colors to choose from. This keeps the audience focused without the user switching back and forth between multiple tabs.
- Eraser: user can quickly erase any drawings, marks, or notes while recording.
- Embed Webcam: allows the user to pop their video in and out without having to piece together multiple videos
Optimizing Videos for Learning with Screencastify
Screencastify provides teachers and students with many integrated tools for creating videos, but are the videos accessible to all?
To allow students to have direct access to teacher created videos in Screencastify, the best option is to use the ‘Download to YouTube’ option that is directly integrated in the platform. Once on YouTube, the link can be shared with students and they will have the option to replay, fast-forward, adjust playback speed, and pause. Students can also use the platform to create their own videos and the student version looks identical to the teacher version. Another great accessibility feature is the Chrome extension for Screencastify. The extension allows the user to create a video with only two mouse clicks.
The biggest drawback to Screencastify is that there is not an option to add closed captions or transcripts. Another platform is required for transcripts and captions, such as Google Drive or YouTube. Fortunately, Screencastify videos can be downloaded in many different platforms including Google Drive and YouTube. If captions or transcripts were incorporated into the platform, Screencastify would be a truly accessible platform for creating videos.
Overall, I give Screencastify a big thumbs up!