iPads In the Classroom – Screencast or Bust!

Nothing to report here… Just some fragmented thoughts and whatever’s. A bit of a schizophrenic week actually but that has been my element these past 15 years of teaching.

The iPad group didn’t move the earth or cure cancer but we did have some progress with assignment submission using WordPress blogs.  It was a bit messy to start but I think we have turned the corner on our work submission woes. Outside of that, there was nothing exciting to report from the iPad front.

What did happen which was of note is that I had a wee bit of a revelation.

This “Ah Ha!” actually originated with my “regular” kids, specificaly my classes with a significant number of ESL kids who seem to always be lost in my class. Try as I may, it is very difficult to help these kids keep up with the curriculum and I would (on occasion) lose sleep, thinking about how to deliver content in a manner which would allow them to absorb the information at their own pace.

It was only this week, that I came to consider the possibility of screencasting as the answer to my problem. A visual snapshot of the critical elements of my lessons,which  a student  can refer to at any time. I make the screencasts available through YouTube and my students can use them complete an assignment at there own pace. It was a stroke of delayed genius! Admittedly the videos I have produce so far are rather crude but I think they will become far more polished and useful as time goes by.

Now this, in and of itself, is not all that special. Teachers have been screencasting lessons for a number of years now. What is more important however, is that I started to think about how I can do this with the iPad kids. As intuitive as the iPad and all the apps my be, sometimes people still need instruction. The complexity gets ramped up when you are using more than one application at at the same time so being able to capture a video on how to use these apps would be great.

Currently there is no way to create a screencast of an iPad and considering the restrictive nature of Apple products, being able to do this would be significant. We had all hoped that iOS5 would provide us with this functionality and it has come close but it stops short of allowing a teacher to capture lessons and spin them into an instructional video. With that said… I think I may have stumbled upon a screencasting solution for the ipad. It won’t be simple but if it works, I will be able to create 720p screen casts of my lessons using the iPad and post them to YouTube.

Unfortunately, I will have to drop a couple hundred bucks to see if my idea works… but if it does? It will open the door for some serious advancements in the use of the iPad as an instructional tool. Stay tuned to see if my idea works.

Look Out Future Shop… Here I come!


Well the good news is that I can do it! The bad news is that I am going to have to wait until I can get my hands on a little piece of technology that will allow me to send the image from the iPad to the capture device.



  1. Jeremy Reid

    I was thinking this week also about creating some short video’s that I would link in my Moodle course for students to view. This video would outline the steps required to use an app or do a project. I was thinking about doing this because I don’t yet have a way to demo an iPad over my projector (need a replacement projector with HDMI port).
    I there is no screencasting (video & audio) app available, then could you just take some still image screen captures by pressing home and power button at same time. Then, you could take those photos off the camera roll and throw them into iMovie, you could even annotate over some images first with arrows, and add some audio to talk students through steps…all that can be done in iMovie.
    This might take a little longer than a regular screen cast, but maybe not too much more.

    What did you have in mind to do a screen cast, but requires some hardware?

    1. Post

      Hey Jeremy,

      The still shot idea would be a good solution in lieu of a live motion screencast and I think I might just give a couple of those a go too.

      My motivation to create a live motion screencast is twofold. I think for some of the things I want to demonstrate, it would be better and secondly, I just want to see if I can do it. In fact I think I like the challenge of trying to figure it out more than the motivation of having a useful classroom tool at my disposal.

      Yes my idea involves hardware, two pieces. One that is readily available and another that I have ordered out of Hong Kong. I would love to share it with the world BUT I am not positive it will work and I want to be the first to pull it off. Actually there are two people who have done screencasts with iPads but the solution is a bit of a Jerry Rig. My solution will be clean and effective.

      I will keep everyone posted about how things go. In the mean time, I am sure someone will figure it out while I am waiting for two – three weeks for my hardware from Hong Kong.

  2. Shane Lovellette

    As you pointed out, screencasting in the traditional sense is not possible with iOS. We are also keen to solve this problem for customers. Have you heard of Screenchomp? It is a free iPad app that allows you to record voice and annotate over a white background or an image. It creates a video file of your annotations and voice, and you can share it online. It is made by TechSmith (full disclosure, I am the Product Manager for Camtasia at TechSmith.) Screenchomp is one way to create video lessons on the iPad and share them easily.

    The other option is to use hardware. Here is a blog post with video that explains how we have done it in our studio: http://visuallounge.techsmith.com/2011/08/capturing_video_from_your_tabl.html

    I hope this is helpful! This continues to be a difficult problem to solve due to the limitations of iOS. We are interested in any and all ideas about how to best solve it.

  3. Post

    @Shane Lovellette , WOW! Can’t believe someone from a tech company took the time to read my blog. 🙂

    I had found your solution the other day and would have gone this route but I no longer run a PC tower at home and i would venture a guess that they do not have after market PCI cards for laptops and if they do they will be $$$

    My solution is component based and can be attched to any computer that has the capture software installed. A little more expensive and I have learned only 480p but it is a start.

    I will let you know how it goes as soon as I get my parts

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