Terra’s Take on Two Tech Tools

Community May / May / May 13, 2018

– Terra Graves –

Technology tools (hardware and software) are essential for a successful Flipped Learning experiences. Each month, I will be reviewing two tech tools that I use for flipped professional learning with teachers. This month, instead of a head-to-head “match-up,” I present to you a “mash-up” of two tools you can use together for creating video lessons.

There are many options for this, but one of the easiest ways to begin creating videos is to use presentation and screencasting software together.  My favorites are Google Slides and Screencast-O-Matic.

Google Slides

I have used Google Slides for over ten years. What I absolutely LOVE about ALL of the Google productivity tools (Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, etc.) is that they “live” online. Seriously, I consider these documents to be alive because of their accessibility wherever you can get online; more than one person can edit them at a time; and everything automatically saves. Google is the leader in this type of collaborative productivity suite. Once I discovered Google Docs, I said “Good riddance!” to Microsoft Word and never looked back. (On a side note, Microsoft now has an answer to this with Office 365 and OneDrive, but functionality is still pretty clunky.) Once I made the switch, I didn’t care to go back. But I digress.


When I first started creating webinars, I was looking for a screencasting tool that was easier to use than Camtasia by TechSmith. I didn’t have the time to learn such a complex tool AND it was expensive. So, when I found Screencast-o-Matic, which had a free version that you could use to record up to 15 minutes, I was very excited. At the time, my department was creating one-hour webinars, so we needed to purchase the pro version. For a 3-year license, it was $29. WHAT A DEAL! This amazingly easy tool is a bargain and has more features than the novice flipper needs.    

Here’s a look at the free vs. pro version features:

Image captured from: https://screencast-o-matic.com/account#prorecorder

Here’s the workflow (simplified):

  1. Create a presentation in Google Slides.
  2. Open Screencast-O-Matic and start recording.
  3. Go through your presentation as if you were teaching your students in person (even the audio of your voice will be recorded as long as you have an onboard or USB microphone).
  4. Edit and re-record parts as needed (the editing features of Screencast-O-Matic are super easy and intuitive).
  5. Upload to YouTube directly from Screencast-O-Matic.

Here’s the workflow (more detailed):

  1. Create a presentation in Google Slides.  
    • You’ll want your images to dominate your slides, not the text.  
    • Write an outline of the major points you will want to make in the notes section of the slide, or you can create a script/outline (but DON’T READ YOUR SCRIPT; this will sound horrible). Be natural — as if you were teaching a class.
    • A great feature of Google Slides is that it allows you to embed YouTube videos, which play directly within the slide. However, the sound of the video may not be great if you are recording it as part of your lesson. I recommend having your students link out to the video separately to watch it. If you’re using a tool like Edpuzzle, they can click out in one of the stopping points during the lesson.
  2. Once your slides are ready, open Screencast-O-Matic.
    • You’ll want to adjust the recording window so that only the slides are showing and your notes are in a separate window, or another monitor would be even better if you have it. (See screenshot below.)

    • Press record and “Action!”
  1. Go through your presentation as if you were teaching it to a class.  
    • Don’t get freaked out about “ums” or saying the wrong word, etc. Students actually enjoy this…you’re human!
    • If you mess up too badly, you can stop and re-record where you messed up. However, don’t let your “OCD” loose in this process or your “short” video will take you MANY hours to get just right.  
    • Be careful if you have music on in the background. I’ve had a few videos get flagged for copyright violations on YouTube because it actually picked up the music that was VERY low in the room when I recorded. Also, if you’re using a wearable or headset microphone, you should know that the rustling of the mic sounds VERY loud in the audio.
    • It’s fine, too, if you have dogs barking or little ones telling you they have to poop in your recording.  Again, this reminds students you are not a robot that lives at the school. These quirks will just contribute to the relationships you are building through the flipped learning experience.  
  2. Watch your video and re-record pieces ONLY if the lesson content is unclear.  
    • Yes, you really sound like that. No one likes the sound of her recorded voice. Move on.
    • As a recovering perfectionist, this was my hardest lesson to learn.  You MUST let good enough be good enough in this process.
  3. Once you are satisfied with your video, you can upload it directly to YouTube or download it as a video file.  
    • I do both. The YouTube version is for people  who are not taking the class and just want to view the content. I use the video file to upload into Edpuzzle so I can add questions for people taking the class.
  4. That’s it!  You’re done. Sit back, relax, and let the miracle of learning descend upon your students. 

This concludes my take this month. I hope that it is helpful to your flipping process. There are many other ways you can create videos; you need to find the way that you prefer. This one is pretty easy, in my humble opinion. The links below will take you to each site to sign up and to “how to” resources.  Next month, guest columnist Sue White will give you her take on two student response tools.

Google Slides

Click HERE to get started with Google Slides.


Click HERE to view Screencast-O-Matic video tutorials.


Terra Graves
Terra Graves
Terra has been an educator for over twenty years. She is the Project Coordinator/Administrator for the 21st Century Learning Department in Washoe County School District, NV. Prior to this position, she taught elementary and middle school, supported novice teachers as a full-time mentor, served as an Ed Tech Specialist, and a Program Specialist in the 21st Century Learning Department. Terra is Flipped Learning 3.0 Level-II Certified and a founding member of the FLGI International Faculty.

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