Three ways to record and share a presentation with nothing but a Chromebook

Record a presentation using nothing but your Chromebook and these three tools: Hangouts, Movenote, and Screencastify.


Record and share a presentation

Presenters often share slides after a meeting or workshop. But slides often aren’t enough to convey the whole story. A presenter’s story adds context, clarifies, and explains the slides.

Until recently, presenters using Chromebooks were stuck. There wasn’t an easy way to share slides, while also recording audio and/or video. Now, there are at least three solid options.

1. Google+ Hangout On Air

A Google+ Hangout On Air works well to live-stream and record a presentation from your Chromebook to YouTube. The trick is that you don’t invite anyone. Simply start the Hangout, and then choose Start a Hangout On Air (Figure A).

Figure A


Figure A

Start a Hangout On Air, and then stream your presentation live.

Anything you do in the Hangout On Air will be recorded. Record your webcam video or share your screen with the Screenshare app. When you’re done, view your video on YouTube.

For all of this to work, you need a Google Account connected to Google+, Hangouts, and YouTube. If your account supports all three of these, go ahead and setup Hangouts On Air. Then login, broadcast, and record from your Chromebook.

Please note that there are two potential challenges with this option:

  • First, the recording shows either your webcam video or your shared screen. There’s no way to display both at once without using a second computer.
  • Second, your Google Account must use Google+, Hangouts, and YouTube for this to work. Google Apps administrators may not allow this for your organization. For example, Hangouts isn’t enabled for student accounts where I teach, even though Google+ is enabled.

Fortunately, Chromebook users have at least two other ways to record a presentation.

2. Movenote

Movenote shows your recorded video and slides side-by-side (Figure B). The format is much like a traditional television news show, where you’re the news anchor providing commentary on the slides.

Figure B


Figure B

Movenote displays your video and slides side-by-side.

Movenote offers at least three ways to install the app. People who use Chrome can install the app from the Chrome Web Store or sign up at the site. Organizations that use Google Apps might have an administrator add Movenote from the Marketplace, which allows anyone in the organization to sign in to Movenote from the app selector grid. (Additionally, Movenote offers both an Android and iOS app.)

The first time you start Movenote, you need to give the app permission to access your webcam twice: once for Adobe Flash and the other for the Movenote site to access your webcam.

Now, it's time to upload your content. Movenote supports presentations in PDF format and images in JPG and PNG formats.The upload notes suggest that some PPT and PPTX files might work, but the two PPT and PPTX files I tried failed to upload. Disappointingly, as of February 2014, Movenote doesn’t support the native Google Slides format, so you’ll need to use "File | Download as… | PDF Document" to save your Slides as a PDF Document.

Next, arrange your slides. Each page of a PDF document uploaded to Movenote may be re-ordered. This offers a handy way to make a quick sequence change.

Finally, make your recording. Press the Record button, and then start your presentation. Move through your slides while your webcam video records. Click Pause to hold the recording, Resume to continue, or Start Over to try again. When you’re done, select Save & Preview.

Recordings made with Movenote are publicly accessible and hosted at Movenote. The system provides a shortlink to your presentation. Your slides (PDF format) and video (MP4 format) may be downloaded by viewers.

Remember, adding video to slides affects pacing: slides are skimmable, but video isn’t. Be sure your video commentary adds value!

3. Screencastify

Screencastify creates screencasts -- that is, recordings of your screen with optional audio. It’s a Chrome extension available in the Chrome Web Store and still in Beta (as of February 2014).

You can adjust a few video and audio settings. The tab size and capture resolution can both be adjusted to anything from full size (1366x768 on most Chromebooks) to 720p, 480p, 360p, down to 240p. The frames-captured-per second setting can be set to 25, 10, 5 or 1. You can record audio from the Chromebook’s microphone, audio played within the tab, or no audio at all.

By default, Screencastify captures content in the current tab when it starts. There is an option to capture the entire desktop, which is labeled as “experimental” (as of February 2014). A full desktop capture could show how to place windows side-by-side, for example, as that’s something that requires showing content outside just a single tab. Full desktop capture requires that you enable the chrome://flag for Enable screen capture support in GetUserMedia().

You may need to experiment to find settings that work for your Chromebook. On my HP Chromebook 11, I had to lower the capture resolution to 480p and frame rate to 5 FPS to record the audio and video consistently (Figure C).

Figure C


Figure C

Customize Screencastify’s settings to record a screencast presentation with audio on your Chromebook.

When you have settings that work, recording is easy. Click the Screencastify extension icon, and then select Start Recording. The capture will begin. Browse a web site or share your slides (see my earlier article, “Two ways to share slides in a Google+ Hangout” for tips on showing slides). Like Movenote, Screencastify offers a Pause option. When you’re done, click the extension again, and choose Stop Recording.

Screencastify saves recordings in the WebM format. They may be saved locally or uploaded to YouTube.

Which tool should you use?

All three options work. For most users, a Hangout On Air remains the simplest option. But for people who can’t use a Hangout On Air, Movenote offers a solid alternative -- as long as you put your presentation in PDF format. Of course, Screencastify works best for screencasting, so if your presentation benefits from sequences that show information outside of slides (e.g., on other browser tabs), Screencastify may be a solid choice.

The bottom line is that Chromebook owners who give presentations can now record and share their presentations instead of just sharing a link to lifeless slides.

What tools do you use to create and record presentations on your Chromebook? Let us know in the discussion thread below.