Screencasting — the process of turning content on your screen into watchable video content, usually with video or audio narration — is becoming essential for educators to use. Hybrid and blended learning methods have hit the mainstream even more quickly because of the pandemic, with between 14.5 and 25.6% of K-12 schools employing hybrid teaching during the 2020-2021 school year.
As with any education-related tech innovation, there’s a varying learning curve to deal with, and educators need the appropriate tools to make screencast videos.
Two apps for screen recording are Screenpal and Screencastify. Both enable educators like you to do similar things, but there are some major differences in approach between the two technologies.
We’re going to get to the bottom of which one is better for teachers and educators 🏫 (especially in the K-12 space).
An overview of Screencastify
Screencastify is an easy-to-use screencasting tool that exists as an extension in your Google Chrome browser. That means there’s no separate app to install or compatibility issues to worry about: If your computer or mobile device laptop can run Google Chrome, it can run Screencastify. It doesn’t matter if you’re on Windows, macOS, or ChromeOS — Screencastify works.
Screencastify is made by educators with the needs of both teachers and students in mind. The team behind Screencastify (that’s us! 🙋) built it with a focus on simplicity and ease of use: Anyone who can use a computer, tablet, or smartphone can start using Screencastify’s screen recording tool in seconds, no complicated setup or tutorials needed. Learn more about Screencastify's mission in this episode of EdTech Heroes!
An overview of Screenpal
Screenpal is designed for the general market. It’s a more complicated tool that adds some additional capabilities. Of course, that functionality comes at a cost: complexity.
Because Screenpal is trying to capture a wide audience, there are different versions of their product (including a downloadable standalone app). You also get different editing tools depending on whether you’re on a Chromebook or a Microsoft PC. There’s mobile support for iOS (iPad or iPhone) and Android, but again, you’re adding new, different user interfaces to the mix.
These multiple versions and interfaces can make interfacing and switching hardware devices more complicated.
This complexity is great if you need it, but can get in the way if you don’t. For teachers, some of the added bells and whistles don't actually enhance learning, and the software doesn’t end up being worth the learning curve, cost, or complexity.
Here’s a real-world example. Let’s say you’re using a Chromebook while out of the classroom. That device will use the Google Play editor version of SScreenpal, with a particular UX and interface. But then let’s say you’re back in the classroom on your main PC. There, you’ll be using a standalone desktop app that looks completely different.
And if you add a Mac to the mix? Yep, the complexity just keeps growing.
Multiple versions and interfaces can be a challenge for educators, who are trying to keep up with numerous digital transitions. But it also creates challenges for students. If you’re looking to help students create their own videos, you’ll first have to master every possible interface when using Screenpal. Working across multiple operating systems and devices with students is quite simple on Screencastify, but it’s complex on Screenpal.
So, to sum up: Screenpal is a powerful tool, but it’s much harder to use.
Screencastify vs. Screenpal: Comparing features that teachers and students need
At the top level, Screencastify wins in terms of ease-of-use, while Screenpal has the advantage in terms of raw power and advanced, more complex features.
We know you want to know more than that before making your decision, though. So let’s get into the weeds 🌱 and explore the features that matter most to teachers and students.
Video quality 🎥, features, and user-friendliness
In terms of video quality, features, and user-friendliness, you’ll find similarities between the two tools. The user experience is comparable, though Screencastify is more user-friendly for most teachers and students because it’s a Chrome extension (like we mentioned before).
Screencastify and Screenpal can record full HD video of both the user’s screen and webcam content. Both include the ability to annotate videos using drawing tools and annotation tools and support for green screens.
One feature that sets Screencastify apart for education is the ability to embed interactive questions into videos. Interactive questions are a great way to increase student engagement and gauge understanding. Screenpal hasn’t built any similar feature, likely because theirs isn’t an education-focused product.
Video editing options
Screen recording software gets your content captured, but sometimes you’ll need to do some more work after you finish recording. When you hit that record button to stop screencasting, now it’s time to edit.
In terms of video editing features, this is an area where Screenpal offers a more robust experience. If you’re a more experienced video editor looking for advanced editing capabilities, Screenpal may have the functions you seek. The software is built to cater to a variety of industries, some of which need to edit videos in more advanced ways.
Still, Screencastify Edit allows you to do quite a bit, including all the standard edit types most teachers would want.
Both apps will allow you to edit using the following tools:
- Title clips
- Crop video clips
- Cut and rearrange clips
- Add text
The ability to crop and cut clips is essential for educators, as is the ability to blur out content that you didn’t intend to share. You don’t want to have to redo a 45-minute video lecture because you inadvertently showed sensitive student data on the screen for a few seconds. Blurring or simply cutting this content allows you to salvage the footage so you don’t have to start over.
Video sharing, exporting, and integrations
Screencastify integrates with the education-focused services and platforms teachers need, including a Learning Management Systems (LMS) like Google Classroom and edtech platforms such as PlayPosit, Remind, and Wakelet. And teachers can enable a wide range of integrations from the Video Management Page or via URL.
Screenpal integrates with some LMS platforms, including Canvas, Moodle, Schoology, and Blackboard. There is also a Google Classroom integration, though it doesn’t go as deep as Screencastify’s. Screencast-O-Matic doesn’t integrate with PlayPosit, Remind, or Wakelet.
Both allow 1080p recording as mp4 files and allow you to export quality videos to a variety of platforms and locations.
Screencastify allows you to:
- Publish directly to YouTube
- Share with Google Classroom
- Upload to Edpuzzle
- Export files as GIFs
- Export audio only
- Create shareable links to easily share recordings
Of those, Screenpal can do the following:
- Publish directly to YouTube
- Share with Google Classroom
- Export files as GIFs
- Create shareable links to share recordings easily
There’s one other important feature for classroom use that you’ll find in Screencastify but not in Screencast-O-Matic: the ability to request videos from your students. This powerful capability allows students to access each other’s work for social learning — though only when you as the teacher enable it, of course. Because Screenpal wasn’t built for the classroom, it doesn’t have any such feature.
Both apps offer some video analytics capabilities. The pattern continues here: Screenpal offers deeper analytics, but they go far beyond what the typical classroom teacher would ever want to use. So that depth may sound impressive at first, but it doesn’t create much value for most people within education.
Screencastify’s analytics tools are lighter weight, once again focused on the real-world needs of teachers. Most of the analytics you’ll find in Screencastify center on embedded interactive questions and assignment-related information.
Video security and privacy
We know that security and privacy are of the utmost importance for today’s educators, so Screencastify has taken the time to get appropriate education-related certifications, including FERPA, COPPA, and CSPC.
Screenpal states that it is compliant with FERPA and COPPA requirements but does not state that it holds the related educational certifications.
In terms of data collection, Screencastify attempts to collect the least amount of data possible. 🙅 Screencastify also allows you to own your videos within your Google Drive account. Bottom line: you keep what you create.
Having the right tool for screencasting is important, but you’ll also need inspiration and instruction on making the most of the tool in your teaching.
Screencastify actively produces great content around the educational uses of videos in classrooms. On the Educational Resources page, you’ll find many videos, podcasts, webinars, blog posts, and more.
Screencastify also has more formal resources cataloged within Screencastify University, a place to deepen your knowledge and even gain certifications in using the tools within Screencastify.
Screenpal content caters to a wider audience of marketers, gamers, and others, so there’s less specific information relating to using the tool in the classroom. The company does discuss education from time to time, though, and educators can find select education-focused resources on Screenpal's site.
Which tool is right for you? Screencastify or Screenpal?
So, if you’re an educator looking for the perfect screencasting tool, the one that meets your needs and has the right price to performance ratio, which one should you choose? Is Screencastify or Screenpal better for your needs?
In general industry use, this one is a neck-and-neck comparison. But when it comes to education and the specific needs students and teachers have, Screencastify is the clear leader. It’s incredibly easy for students and teachers to use, and its essential interactive features, such as interactive questions, make Screencastify the tool of choice for educators.
Now, when it comes to a screencasting tool for certain other industries or use cases (marketers, influencers, professional video editors, gamers), the more advanced editing tools in Screenpal may make a big difference. And people who need more robust analytics tools will also likely benefit from Screenpal.
Find out why school districts love using Screencastify
Screencastify is the clear choice, both for individual teachers and school districts as a whole. With its superior ease of use, school districts will enjoy quick adoption with minimal needs for instruction or support.
But don’t just take our word for it. Find out for yourself what real teachers and districts have to say about using Screencastify for themselves. Read about Screencastify for Teachers and Screencastify for Districts.