Explain and Send Screenshots Example
Google, instructional technology, Productivity, Web 2.0

Tech Tip Tuesday – Create and Annotate Screenshots on Any Computer (Free)

In the past, Skitch was my go-to app for creating annotated screenshots. Sadly, Evernote stopped supporting Skitch in 2015. As someone who uses a Mac, PC (Windows), and Chromebook, I’ve been searching for a free (or inexpensive) solution that works on all platforms. And, Explain and Send Screenshots is it!

What is Explain and Send Screenshots?

Explain and Send Screenshots is a free Google Chrome Extension. It works on any computer using the Google Chrome web browser. Unlike most extensions, Explain and Send Screenshots does not “Read and change all your data on the websites you visit”—making it a safer option.

How Does It Work?

Once you’ve added the Explain and Send Screenshots extension to Google Chrome, you can click on the extension’s icon (see image below) to take a screenshot (image) or screencast (video) of any webpage.

Explain and Send Screenshots Menu

You can also right-click on a webpage to quickly access the context menu.

Explain and Send Screenshots Right-Click Menu

No webpage, no problem. You can annotate on any image (.png or .jpeg) via the Open file… option.

What Are Its Features?

After you take your screenshot, you’ll have several annotation options: circle, square, arrow, line, draw, text, number (and text), highlight, and blur. Blur is especially useful for concealing sensitive information, like students’ names.

ESS Edit Options


Explain and Send Screenshots Example
Annotations Example


When you’re done annotating, you can copy/download/save the screenshot (image) as a .png or .jpeg (image format can be changed under options). Screenshots (image) can also be saved as .pdf using Chrome’s Print… > Save as PDF option. Screencasts (video) are saved as .webm, which can be viewed in any web browser or VLC (media player). They can also be easily uploaded to YouTube.

ESS Share Options

screenshot of iPhone on a Mac
iPad, Mobile, Share, TLT, Video

Record a Screencast of your iPad/iPhone from your Mac for Free!

This is for all my Mac users running Yosemite (OS 10.10).  Here’s a handy tip that you may not know that allows you to record what you are doing on your iPad or iPhone to a movie that you can share with your students or others.   In the past we’ve been able to do this by purchasing additional software such as AirServe or Reflector but these cost money (not a lot $14-$19) and they didn’t work on our CofC secured network.  Now if you are running the newest Mac OS 10.10 you can do this using only the USB cable you use to charge your phone and the built-in Quicktime Player.

Here’s a quick rundown:

1)  Connect your iPad or iPhone to your computer using the USB to lightning cable.

2)  On your computer launch QuickTime and select File > New Movie Recording from the menu bar.

3)  Choose your iPad or iPhone from the dropdown menu next to the record button.

4)  Press the record button to record.

5)  Press it again to stop recording.

6)  Choose File > Save to save the video recording.

Here’s a better way to understand what to do:

Now remember, this will only work with Macs running Yosemite and iOS devices that use the lightning connection. I hope this helps the Mac folks. For all you Windows users, if you have this need then contact your Instructional Technologist for assistance.

Screenshot of Playback app
Distance Ed, instructional technology, iPad, Mobile, Presentation, TLT

iPad Screencasting Apps to Create Demonstrations and Lectures

With more people flipping their classrooms and teaching online screencasting has become a popular way to deliver content.  Screencasting is a video recording of what occurs on a computer screen.  Normally, computer screencasting apps will allow you to record anything that you do on the computer.  Screencasting on an iPad is slightly different.  Currently there is no app that records everything that you do on the iPad but there are apps that let you record many of the things that you would use in a lecture or a lesson.  Over the past few days I tested ten different screencasting apps (some paid, some free).  While they all allow for voice recording over a whiteboard many of them offered extra features that set them apart from each other.  I was looking for the ability to add presentations, images and files, a whiteboard, and overall flexibility.  The iPad Screencasting App Matrix is a full matrix of each app’s features, price and restrictions.  Below are the apps that I evaluated and my thoughts of each.  Keep in mind that this is my opinion.  I encourage you to choose a couple and try them yourself.

Playback – Screencast Creator for Dropbox (free)

Screenshot of Playback app
Image 1

Playback is a free screencasting app.  It’s primary focus is as a whiteboard app.  You can create a Playback session from an image or a PDF but you have to do it at the beginning, before you begin the recording.  You can’t add images or PDFs on the fly.  What I don’t like is that you have to open these PDFs and images from Dropbox or your iPad and then send them to Playback.  Playback also has the ability to record the camera on the iPad (see image 1).  It allows you to have the small camera image in the upper corner or you can have it display larger in the middle of the screen, which is a unique feature.  However, on playback, the video in the corner, shot from the camera, was way behind the audio and it was very distracting.


Explain Everything ($2.99)

Explain Everything screenshotThis is my personal favorite. It allows the most flexibility of any of the apps I looked at. You can import most any file type (doc(x), ppt(x), xls(x), pdf, jpg) which gives you so much freedom.  You can also insert a web browser that allows you some basic web navigating to allow you to show websites and discuss them.  You can also insert video and audio files.  All of these can be added on fly while recording the session.  Because it has so many features it is not as easy to use as some of the others and zooming and scrolling requires a special tool instead of just allowing you to pinch and stretch like other apps.  It does allow you to add a video recorded with the iPad camera but it’s not a constant recording like in Playback.  Overall, I think it’s worth the time to learn to use it.

ShowMe (free)

ShowMe ScreenshotShowMe is a simple to use app and is good for those who are wanting a whiteboard app for uses such as explaining math problems or diagramming.  You can only use the whiteboard feature and import images from the Camera Roll.  When it comes time to export and share you upload it to ShowMe’s public website.  This makes it easy to share with your students via a web link but it’s also available to anyone who goes to the public site.  I don’t like that you can’t import other formats or from anywhere else but the Camera Roll.  For me, I like an easy upload but I also like to have the option to save it to my Camera Roll so I can edit it if necessary.  One feature that I didn’t like was that the recording paused when I added an image.  I’m assuming this was to save recording time but the problem I encountered was remembering to turn the recording back on after I added the image.  I ended up annotating and speaking over the better part of a slide that didn’t record due to this feature.

Knowmia Teach (free)

Knowmia Teach ScreenshotKnowmia offers many of the same features in Explain Everything but with the iPad camera recording like in Playback.  There are several things I really like about this app.  First it is set up in Stages and you can record each stage or slide individually instead of recording straight through like in other apps.  There is also a area at the bottom where you can add additional items that you can bring into the session on the fly.  It’s feature rich and fairly easy to use.  My two complaints are as follows:  First, while free to both instructors and students, videos created with the student account are only kept on their server for 30 days then they disappear.  They are not downloadable so they can’t be kept.   Second, it kept freezing up on my.  I estimate it froze 10 times while trying to create a 5 slide session.

These are just a few of the apps that I tested out.  For a full listing of the features compared check out the iPad Screencasting App Matrix.  If you are interested in incorporating any of these apps into your course contact your Instructional Technologist.  We’re happy to help.