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Teacher Tips

Embracing Challenges with Screencastify

Nefertiti Dukes | January 25, 2021

Screencastify and Harare

Harare International School, in Zimbabwe, is an International Baccalaureate school that serves students in Kindergarten through 12th grade. They’re on a mission to create a diverse learning community, foster curiosity, embrace challenges, and nurture personal growth. These are huge, bold challenges in a normal school year.

When Harare was forced to balance its bold initiatives with a global pandemic, things got even more challenging.

Teachers were looking for a way to maintain rigor while pivoting to distance learning. And, students were desperately trying to find a way to interact with their peers at home. Eventually, both students and teachers at Harare International School started using Screencastify to meet their needs.

One of the easiest tools out there.

When distance learning began, everyone was learning something new! Parents were encouraged to support learning at home. Teachers were figuring out how to deliver high-quality instruction digitally. And, students were beginning to master video calls and online instruction.

With everyone facing so many new challenges at once, muddling through a complex technology tool was a non-starter.

For Marcus Tanner, the school’s Technology Integrationist, Screencastify was just the opposite. He remarked, “It's really easy to install and manage. The fact that it's a Chrome browser extension is magnificent, it means that we don't have to worry about what platform we are working on. In a school where we are running multiple platforms, that was really important."

Since Screencastify was easy to install and worked on all types of devices, everyone at Harare was able to immediately start recording. Since March, they’ve created more than one thousand videos.

Empowering students to control their learning.

Even before the pandemic, the teachers at Harare worked to give students autonomy over their own learning.

During distance learning, the call for student autonomy and empowerment was amplified.

Luckily, students at Harare have been able to take control of their learning and ask questions. One student noted, “All tasks are presented to me before class time and so I am able to complete them. The teachers who use Google Hangouts are always online during our class time so it’s easy to ask questions.” For students, their regular Google Hangouts calls were supplemented by on-demand videos they can access and rewatch at any time. Mr. Tanner pointed out that the videos have been transformational. His students are seeing videos created by their teachers, teaching in a way they can understand. They aren’t just a random YouTube video, Tanner noted.

Teachers at Harare have noticed that when students watch the videos at home, class time (whether digital or face-to-face) has been more effective.

Getting students involved

All students at Harare enroll in a program called, “Community Action and Service.” While in the program, students are encouraged to help their classmates and improve their school community.

Since students were using more technology than ever, a new branch of “Community Action and Serve” was created: “Google Training for Students.” Students who participated in the newly formed group created Screencastify tutorials to help their peers use Google products.

In fact, the students learned how to become such amazing video-creators because they took the free Master the Screencast, Jr. course!

The videos students have created with Screencastify have been an amazing showcase of student voice. And, since all Screencastify videos are saved to Google Drive, the program also has a repository of videos to revisit and replay in future years.

Amplifying teacher impact even in person

Recently, Harare International School has begun to transition back to in-person instruction and teachers are still using Screencastify to make learning more personal.

Educators are creating video directions that allow non-readers to access the curriculum. They’re providing video feedback to push students toward mastery. And, they’re creating mini-lessons that students can watch from anywhere, anytime.

For Harare International School, March was the start of them embracing video-based learning. As they’ve learned more about Screencastify and encountered new challenges, they’ve been able to use the simple video-creating extension and editor to meet their bold mission.