Thursday, February 7, 2013

Student-Made Videos with Explain Everything

Our guest blogger today is Troy Cockrum, Middle School Language Arts Teacher from St. Thomas Aquinas School in Indianapolis. Troy is a Google Certified Teacher and Host of the Flipped Learning Network Podcast. You can find many of his student-made videos on and follow Troy on Twitter @tcockrum.

When I began flipping my class two years ago, it wasn’t long before students began asking if they could make videos like the ones I made. I wanted the students to create videos but soon found that many students lacked the technical knowledge or necessary device to easily make screencast type videos and then became discouraged. I had talked with Eric Marcos, creator of, and he explained to me how his student voluntarily made math videos. He helped me set-up my own student made video site,, but I still needed to find a simple process that the students would embrace. That is when I came across Explain Everything.

My class had been given 2 iPads by our school's technology committee (and later got 2 more) to pilot their uses in the classroom. I have always felt that computers, tablets, and other devices are best used by students and their learning is most engaged when they are creating content rather than simply consuming content. When I discovered the Explain Everything App, I was able to have my students create, collaborate, and learn while removing the difficulties technology can sometimes present.

Explain Everything is described as “an easy-to-use design tool that lets you annotate, animate, and narrate explanations and presentations.” It is, in essence, a multimedia recording whiteboard on an iPad. There are other whiteboard type apps for the iPad, including free ones like Educreations and ScreenChomp, however I found Explain Everything was more versatile, especially with output options and worth the $2.99 ($1.49 if you buy more than 20).

I’ll take you through the process that works for my students. There are some steps you could do differently that might work better for you or your class. For me, this is the process that has worked very successfully, simply, and efficiently in the classroom.

The first step is to create a slide presentation. My students use Keynote on the iPad. You could use many other presentation tools. I prefer to use SlideRocket, but my students really gravitate towards Keynote. Once the presentation is created, you need to bring it into Explain Everything.

The app allows several import options, including from Dropbox or Photos. The simplest way for us is to take screenshots of each slide (hold down home button and sleep/wake button at the same time) and then import the images into Explain Everything from the Photo Roll.

Once in Explain Everything, the students can simply hit the record button and talk through their slides as they advance them. The app even pauses briefly as you advance the slides and merges the recordings together into one video.

If you choose, you can also use the pen tool to write or annotate on the slides or images.

After recording, I like the availability of options Explain Everything provides my students and me. You can export to the Photo Roll, YouTube, e-mail, Dropbox, and Evernote. I have my iPads set up to export directly to my YouTube account as a private video so I can review it. Once the slide presentation is created, the whole process only takes my students 15 minutes or less.

Note: I find it best to use the medium setting on video export. You’ll still get acceptable quality, but the upload time will be significantly faster.

To make things even better, Explain Everything recently announced that the app will be able to import and annotate on videos soon.

Here are two examples of some student-created videos using this process:

Other uses for Explain Everything:

  1. Writing Feedback:  I use it to give students quick feedback on their writing.  It includes my annotations while also hearing my audio explanation.  Similar to a recorded writing conference.  The student could even be present when you do this and then review the video later.
  2. Tutorials or answering questions:  If a student emails or asks a question that is difficult to explain through email, you could record the problem and the process to work through the problem and forward them the video.  All within a few minutes.
  3. Flipped Video:  This provides a simple way to make quick videos for a Flipped Classroom.
The Challenge:

You or one of your students create a short instructional video using this process. Share it here in the comments section of this blog or tweet it out to #INeLearn. This would be a great opportunity to participate in the #IN28DLD Photo Challenge.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting and thorough explanation. Haven't used the app but will give it a try.