Announcing a New Screen Recorder in Studio!

AkosFarago
Instructure
Instructure
12
3710

Canvas.png

The recent upgrade of our current screen capture solution, Screencast-o-matic, was much more challenging than what we originally prepared for. Supporting a third-party application and making sure that everyone gets the new version seamlessly, no matter if it's a personal or institution-managed device, and irrespective of the device type, prompted us to reflect on how we can do better next time. We spent some time discussing it with the team and a recurring, thought-provoking question emerged from these conversations:

What if we instead… added screen recording to our current webcam capture solution? Would our users move on to it?

Let's take a moment to consider this. It's definitely the direction we aim to pursue in the future, and we've already implemented a similar feature for Chromebooks. Upon reviewing our logs, it appears to be highly stable. Furthermore, some brief testing has demonstrated its functionality on various devices and browsers, which is excellent news. So, if we enable browser-based recording, wouldn't it enable faculty members to easily create back-to-back recordings? Absolutely! How about its launch time? Quick.

Shouldn’t we give it to everyone? Big yes!

AkosFarago_0-1693856324662.png

 

The illustration above represents the initial design iteration for recording a Google Slides presentation, which involves capturing it in a separate browser tab. Additionally, it indicates our two-phase release plan. In the first phase, the beta version will encompass essential features such as screen capture, pause/resume recording, and the ability to save recordings to your Studio library. The second phase will introduce further enhancements, with a focus on ensuring a seamless experience for creating recordings. This phase will also incorporate specific features based on your feedback

Now let’s delve into some key questions.

 

First things first, what will happen with Screencast-O-Matic?

Nothing, that will be supported as well. We understand that its rich editing solutions are not (yet) available in Studio and those are widely used. However, we may change how it launches and support editing of videos downloaded to your local disk. That is under discussion.

Is there any other upgrade expected?

Not a large-scale one. You may have the Install Screen Capture screen popping up because we rolled out another upgrade for Windows devices today (Sept 4) that you have to allow to download it. This was necessary as the previous installer had interworking issues with the NVDA screen reader but it should seamlessly install on your device.

What's the timeline for the new Studio capture solution?

Beta phase should be out latest in November. We are working in small iterations to get it out as early as possible.

Is there any limitation in the Beta version?

Yes, supported browsers and length of recording. We confirmed and tested Chrome and Edge browsers on Mac and Windows devices. Safari is under testing, while Firefox is not going to be supported. Furthermore, since you are recording in your browser, the maximum length depends on your browser resource limitations and therefore we recommend you to keep recordings under 60 minutes.

Will I need to do anything to turn it on?

No, this will be available for everyone automatically. You will notice it when the Webcam capture and Screen capture menu items under the Record icon change to Studio Capture and Screencast-O-Matic.

Is it planned to be incorporated in the RCE or other places in Canvas?

Yes, it is planned, more information about it soon.

Where can I share my feedback and add suggestions?

We would be thrilled to have your feedback as early as possible. If you have anything to share that you would love to see in the new recorder now or during the beta phase, please use this form. Thank you!

https://forms.gle/XiWMM7gybTCbeXuy7

 

Take care,

Akos

 

12 Comments
knoxd
Advocate

Thank you for the continuous work that you have done on this.  I love Studio and you are working to make it even better for us!

dbrace
Community Contributor

I have a lot of feedback that I could offer (probably best done privately) about the roll-out to the latest version of "Screencast-o-matic" but I am glad that you have reflected on that experience and are aiming to do better.

I do have a question, what is the recorder's official name?  Is it "Screencast-o-matic" or "ScreenPal".

Screencast-o-matic or ScreenPal.png

I look forward to seeing how this new recording method will make the recording process easier and quicker.  At the same time, I hope that the more advanced editing and post production features offered by "Screencast-o-matic"/"ScreenPal" will continue to be available because my institution considers them to be a mini-version of Camtasia (very helpful for students using personal devices) and one of the reasons why we subscribed to Studio over other options.

vanzandt
Community Champion

RE: "Is it planned to be incorporated in the RCE or other places in Canvas?

Yes, it is planned, more information about it soon."

 

This is great to hear. Will auto-captioning also be included in this update for videos created from within the RCE in other places in Canvas? That has always been one of the glaring accessibility omissions for Canvas and it would be great to see that improved in this process.

AkosFarago
Instructure
Instructure

Hi!

Thank you for the comments and feedback that were submitted via the form, we are delighted to see such interest! Responding to a few concerns:

  1. Branding: Screencast-O-Matic was rebranded to ScreenPal but the version we are using is still branded as Screencast-O-Matic threefore the naming. I understand the confusion though! (@dbrace)
  2. Auto-captioning in Studio/Canvas: this is an ongoing discussion and we'll share the updates once we have any! (@vanzandt)
  3. Firefox support: the goal of the two-phased release is to make sure this gets into our users hand as fast as possible and build upon feedback quickly. The team found technical challenges with Firefox and designated it as a risk in the first scope. Ultimately, our goal is to support it on Firefox as well, but most likely it is out of scope in the November release
  4. Editing features in the new recorder: this is our long-term plan! Record content, do whatever edit you need, pick a thumbnail etc and save in one single workflow but support the ability to edit later as well if thats needed. It will take time, but we will get there.
  5. Stability: we are investigating chunk/stream upload in order to reduce dependency on the browser resource limitation. More to come on that after the beta announcement.


Love all the feedback! Thank YOU!

dbrace
Community Contributor

Thank you for the clarification about branding, @AkosFarago. It may seem small but can be confusing to some. Please make note of that somewhere in the Canvas Studio Guide so that users know that they are technically the same. I have had somewhere between 6 and 10 people ask me about the difference between the two.

BethCrook
Advocate

Thank you for the work on Studio!  

A question about #4.  "Editing features in the new recorder: this is our long-term plan! Record content, do whatever edit you need, pick a thumbnail etc and save in one single workflow but support the ability to edit later as well if thats needed. It will take time, but we will get there."

Does this mean that we will be going from currently having video editing ability with the current video recording to loosing that functionality until it is ready later on in the "long-term plan"?  

AkosFarago
Instructure
Instructure

@BethCrook 

We won't leave the current editing functions with Screencast-o-matic as long as there is a demand from our users for them, but we will add new editing functions to Studio and make it a significantly more streamlined experience so that it becomes the preferred way of editing videos for content creators. 

dbrace
Community Contributor

@AkosFarago, I really do hope that you continue to have the Screencast-o-matic method. Removing that method may cause my institution to need to evaluate our newly signed contract that is valid for Canvas LMS and Canvas Studio until June 30, 2028.

AkosFarago
Instructure
Instructure

@dbrace, we agree with that and to be super clear, that's not what we are aiming for.

Our primary goal is not to get rid of Screencast-o-matic, instead providing a better alternative that is natively working in browsers and that provides a more streamlined experience in the usual content creation flow. Think about quickly selecting thumbnail from the video after recording or saving it to the Library by splitting it into two videos on the spot. 

We hope to move more and more content creators to the new solution but as long as there is a demand from our users, we'll certainly work with Screencast-o-matic.

Charles_Barbour
Community Participant

@AkosFarago , I would encourage you to think carefully about the need for off-line recording and the ability for recording clients to continue/recover if they lose internet access.

You ever have to tell a faculty member that the hour long lecture they just recorded has been lost and is not recoverable because their browser crashed? It's not a pleasant experience but I would recommend sitting in on such a discussion if you can. It's a tremendous learning opportunity and incredibly humbling.

AkosFarago
Instructure
Instructure

@Charles_Barbour, we are focusing on that part as well and aiming to put some improvements around it even in the beta solution.

AkosFarago
Instructure
Instructure

Hi all,

as a quick update, we decided to postpone the release from Jan 29 after one last stability issue caught us off guard on MacBook devices and the team is still heads down on it. I am going to publish a blog post when we have solved it and the recorder is available in your Studio.

Stay tuned!