Since I first saw Explain Everything I have been a fan – sharing it with teachers everywhere I go. In my opinion it has long been the clear winner in the iPad screencasting space, which is also occupied by Educreations and ShowMe. In my opinion, price aside, Explain Everything is better in almost* every way than Educreations and ShowMe.
Now… there’s a new kid on the block, turning heads – and recording it!
Collaaj’s compelling feature.
Collaj lets you record your webcam video at the same time as you record the screen! As far as I know, no other screencasting app (on the iPad) allows this. Explain Everything, ShowMe and Educreations allow you to record your iPad’s screen and your voice narration, but students can’t see you speaking to them. in Collaj If you tap the camera icon in the sidebar, voila! your face appears in a little window on the screen. This can be repositioned if it’s not in the place you want it. You can even move it during the recording – if you want to write on the part of the screen occupied by the webcam video. That is pretty cool. I love this feature because I think one of the shortcomings of the ‘flipped learning model’ is that video explanations can loose a little bit of humanity. Our brains are hard-wired to respond to the human face. Seeing the face of the person speaking to you somehow makes the experience of listening to an explanation more personally accessible.
That is Collaaj’s winning feature. It’s a very compelling one. But in most* other respects I think Explain Everything is still ahead. The two possible exceptions to this are in the price, and in the video sharing options. The school context will influence your choice here.
Note: since posting this, a reader has pointed out to me in the comments (see below) that it is, in fact, possible to record your webcam in Explain Everything. The process is a little more convoluted but it certainly works! Thanks for that Reshan!
*Sharing your screencasts.
Explain Everything is great if you want to share your video via YouTube, Vimeo, etc as you can easily do this right from the app. Collaaj, ShowMe and Educreations allow you to upload the video to a private server provided by the app, and then share a link with your students. Personally I prefer to use YouTube, but in some schools YouTube is blocked and so the “in house” option may be preferable there. Once you have recorded your video and saved it, it goes into the Collaaj library within the app and from there you can upload it to the Collaaj server and then share a link with your students.
Explain Everything allows you to make multiple slides and navigate through them while you are recording – much more like using an interactive whiteboard. Educreations, ShowMe and Collaaj each allow you to record just one screen at a time.
One feature I really like about Explain Everything is the laser pointer tool. When I am explaining a concept, and using a diagram or graph to do so, I don’t necessarily want to write on the graph – and doing so always feels just a little bit clumsy. Oftentimes, I just want my viewer to look at a part of the diagram. I find the laser pointer a much more efficient tool for this than simply a pen tool. None of the other three apps have a laser pointer tool.
Another great feature of Explain Everything is the zoom tool (indicated by a magnifying glass). It lets you pinch-to-zoom on part of the diagram so that you can focus on just one feature, then zoom out to look at the whole diagram once more for context. I really like that feature and wish that Collaaj would implement it.
Fit and finish
When it comes to polish, Explain Everything is still far and away the best of the three. Educreations and ShowMe just look a bit to plain and basic, and lack functionality in comparison. Collaaj is kind of buggy. You can tell it’s new in this space. As an example, while importing images from DropBox is apparently supported – I can’t get it to work for me.
All these apps are free, except Explain Everything which is $2.99.
I’m torn. I love Explain Everything. I love the finesse with which the tools work, I love the fact that I can upload my videos straight to YouTube, I really love the laser pointer and zoom functions. If only it had the ability to record my webcam video like Collaaj does there would be no question as to which to use! in the meanwhile I’m really liking Collaaj because it brings something to the iPad that has been missing.
Edit: Again, thanks to Reshan’s helpful contribution, I’m back to Explain Everything. :)