Demonstration of the ‘Explain A Website’ App for the iPad

I came across a fantastic screencasting iPad app in the App Store called Explain A Website. Most of the screencasting apps out there are very similar to each other in that they allow you to record on a whiteboard that you can annotate and add photos to. However, Explain A Website has a embedded web browser that allows users to record screencasts while navigating and interacting with websites.  Below is my first attempt at a screencast using the app explaining HWDSB’s website/database of iOS apps for education that was recently launched this past June (

Benefits of Screencasting with iPads

I have always been a huge fan of using technology and digital tools to capture student thinking and help students communicate their great ideas. I previously wrote a post titled, Do Screencasts Have a Place in the Math Classroom? where I pointed out that many teachers seem to like the idea of screencasting but I haven’t really seen it fully implemented in classroom to the extent where students create their own screencasts. I also asked the question Why? Why isn’t screencasting being implemented in the math classroom? Is it too difficult? Too time-consuming? Well today I was able to have some of my questions answered when I worked with a grade 5 teacher that was able to able easily create screencasts with her students using tablet technology.

The students were given a multiplication problem to solve collaboratively in groups and once they solved the problem in more than one way, they were asked to create a screencast of their solution using the Screenchomp app on an iPad.

Here are some of the screencasts that were produced from that lesson:

After my conversation with the teacher and viewing the student created screencasts, I thought about the implementation issue that I previously raised and realized the benefits of the all-in-one capability and the immediacy that tablets bring to the table.

Creating a screencast that can be shared on-line can be a multi-step process that would turn many teachers away considering the business of day to day classroom learning. Just the step of taking pictures with a digital camera and uploading them to a computer to create screencasts can be annoying. However, the iPad allows students to quickly take pictures of their work with the camera app, easily import the picture into the Screenchomp app, record their explanation and share in a matter of minutes. Rather interrupting their thinking and learning process by going over to the classroom computer or waiting to go to the computer lab to create a screencast, the iPad allows the creation of the screencast to become naturally integrated into the learning process because everything the students need is right at their fingertips on one device.

If you have similar experiences with the integration of table technology in your classroom, I would love to hear about it.

Do Screencasts Have a Place in the Math Classroom?

Last November, I wrote a short blog post titled, Screencasts of Student Math Thinking. In this post, I also included a link to a glog I created containing four screencasts that were created by grade 6 students explaining their group’s multiplication strategies after an initial multiplication lesson. Since that post, there has been a lot of attention around the world on Kahn Academy where students learn from concepts and strategies from videos (screencasts).

I love the idea of screencasting and I think what Kahn Academy is attempting to do is pretty cool. However, I love screencasts even more when they are created by students. When students create math screencasts it enhances their metacognition. It forces them to think about their math thinking not once but multiple times since they can play back their video, watch and listen to themselves explain their strategy or solution. They can edit and record multiple times until they feel that their screencast is appropriate for their classmates to view. The rest of the class can also benefit from screencasts because they can be exposed to different solutions and strategies to the same problem. In addition, the screencasts are more engaging by virtue of them being created by students and using student language. Also, with websites like screencasts are not limited to the hard drive of a single classroom computer but can be accessed via web link from any computer with an internet connection. This would allow students and their parents/guardians to view them from home.

I truly believe in the benefits of screencasting for students in the math classroom. For the past year, I have been religiously promoting it in my school board as a great tool to enhance student metacognition and math communication. Many teachers seem to like the idea of it but I haven’t really seen it fully implemented in classroom. I’ve mainly seen teachers create their own screencasts similar to Kahn Academy and no disrespect to Khan Academy or to teachers but I don’t find teacher/adult generated screencasts very interesting or engaging. I would argue that students prefer to create the screencasts themselves and watch other student created screencasts. So I ask the question Why? Why isn’t screencasting being implemented in the math classroom? Is it too difficult? Too time-consuming?

I’ve embedded the glog that I created mentioned earlier of student created screencasts of their multiplication strategies below.

I would love to know your thoughts on screencasting and how you would implement it in your classroom.

Screencasts of Students’ Math Thinking

Last year, I came across a very interesting blog that helped changed my perception of the web in education. Stretch Your Digital Dollar by Katy Scott offers useful ideas for integrating technology into all classrooms. After reading her blog about screencasts, I became fascinated by the possible positive implications this could have in the math classroom. This year, I am looking to delve deeper into screencasting and investigate its positive impact on student learning. I’m interested to hear/see how other educators incorporate this great use of technology in their own classrooms.

I have posted a Glog containing student screencasts of the multiplication strategies that they used to solve a word problem.