App No. 4 (Dec 4th) Explain Everything

Explain Everything logoExplain Everything

Explain Everything is a screencasting app and an interactive whiteboard rolled into one that can be installed on your mobile device. It is available on both the iTunes App Store and on Google Play for a very small charge of €2.69 and €2.65 respectively, and it’s worth it!

Red pin What are screencasts and interactive whiteboards, and of what use are they?
A screencast is a short narrated video of the creator’s computer screen and all that happened on that screen during the length of the recording. Screencasts are used extensively to demonstrate and teach software applications for example. Anyone can make screencasts really easily by using some of the free browser based tools available such as Screencast-o-matic and Screenr, or you can download Jing for free also. I made this screencast in a matter of minutes to show DIT first year students how to log into our Virtual Learning Environment. I used screencast-o-matic and then uploaded it to YouTube.

Virtual interactive whiteboards are applications that allow you to draw on your screen, or import an image and draw onto that, and share that screen with others. They are often incorported into softwares used to run webinars such as Blackboard Collaborate and this allows the instructor, who is at a distance from his/her students, to use the drawing tools provided to draw on his/her slides so as to highlight important elements on those slides as he/she presents etc. or to explain something like a difficult computation etc.

Red pin What does the Explain Everything app look like, what does it do, and how do I start using it?
Explain Everything has been described as the no. 1 app for every teacher. There is so much that it can do from importing documents, images or video; drawing and annotating; moving and animating items on screen; recording and playing; and then exporting and sharing your finished product. I recommend that you watch this 3.24min video to get a sense of its capabilities.


All the help you could possibly need to use Explain Everything is provided in these video tutorials.

Red pin Can integrating a screencasting and whiteboard app, such as Explain Everything, further enhance, or even transform, student activity in the higher education context?
yellow square orange square 
Explain Everything could be used to create much more advanced ‘how to’ tutorials than any of the other free screencasting tools linked to above could produce due to its integrated whiteboard functionality. Such tutorials could really support face-to-face practical labs or workshops for example, allowing students to review, as many times as they need to, the steps or procedures that were covered in class, or that complement and extend the work done in class. This type of activity, while very useful in its own right, would sit within the two lower levels of the SAMR model, ‘substitution’ and ‘augmentation’.

blue square But where an app like Explain Everything really comes into its own is when it’s used to facilitate the pedagogical model referred to as the ‘flipped classroom’ approach. This approach inverts or ‘flips’ the traditional teaching approach by moving the instruction phase online and out of the face-to-face classroom while moving the types of activities that were traditionally seen as ‘homework’ into the classroom. To learn more about the flipped classroom approach, read this very good two page article ‘7 Things you Should Know about Flipped Classooms’ . It begins by presenting a scenario that demonstrates how a flipped lesson might be structured, before explaining the approach itself in more detail.  To flip lessons effectively, the learning materials that are made available before the face-to-face session must be interactive and engaging. As you can see from the Explain Everything demo video above, it has everything that will enable you you create such materials more quickly and more easily that any other piece of software I’ve come across, and all for under €3 too!

green square Providing good feedback is a hugely effective strategy for driving improvement. There has been a lot of research done in recent years about the benefits of video and audio feedback, but how about employing a multimedia approach to giving feedback? A student’s assignment submission i.e. a PDF or a DOC for example, can be imported into Explain Everything and you can work through that submission recording your annotations, explanatory drawings, and your running commentary, as well as embedding a whole host of other supports/media for them if required. Utilising the functionality available to you in the Explain Everything app in this way transforms the feedback giving process, bringing it to a level not quite possible with other softwares, let alone in person!

Take a look at this quick example…


Red pin Optional Task
1. Download Explain Everything from either the iTunes App store or Google Play
2. In freehand, using either your finger or a stylus, write ‘I’m [insert first name] and I’m going to use this app to [insert educational use]. Import a general picture and /or a short video file showing for example what you can see from your office window.
3. Export your finished project to YouTube or Vimeo if you happen to have accounts there before sharing the link to your video on #12appsDIT if you’d like you.

Twitter logoTwitter
Don’t forget to tweet #12appsDIT your opinion of this app, or indeed post a comment below. Let us know your ideas on how to use it effectively with students to transform teaching, learning and assessment practices. The more we share, the more we learn!

All materials provided on The 12 Apps of Christmas at DIT blog are licensed under a Creative Commons Licence
CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

24 Responses to App No. 4 (Dec 4th) Explain Everything

  1. Pip Ferguson says:

    Looks great, but does it work only on Apple devices? The tutorials seem to imply so.


    • fboylan says:

      Hi Pip – no it’s available for android too. The tutorial I chose to display just happened to be one created on an apple device.


      • Pip Ferguson says:

        Thanks Frances. I have been using Kaizena ( to give my students voice and annotation feedback. Easy to use, and free, and they’ve just upgraded it so you can use it for google docs too, but this app Explain Everything looks quite a bit more sophisticated and multi-purpose.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. markglynn says:

    Brilliant – thanks for sharing this. I’d never heard of it before – my mind is working overtime thinking about the potential uses

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Andrew says:

    One of my most used apps on my iPad. I use it in practical teaching of Restaurant Service for demonstrations on how to do basic tasks and also for annotation of videos of students carrying out tasks during service. Also use it is lectures to zoom in on maps and annotate/highlight different areas that are important. The student love it. Together with apple TV I can wander around the class room and take pictures of table setting and critique them on the screen for all the student to see. A must have app.


  4. I do like the ability of explain everything to allow the process of annotation etc. to be highlighted although I would say that iAnnotate or similar is more powerful as an integrated annotation solution. Together with the AirPlay function I would see this as a key selling points of this, although I have concerns about the fidelity of the translation to explain everything (e.g. I’ve seen fonts, proportions of images etc distorted).

    It does facilitate ‘ad hoc’ interactivity (cf the upside down apple girl) but I would be concerned about the capacity of a tablet to render a video in a reasonable time. In the video it cuts whenever the export process begins…has anyone used it for this? And if so what are the timelines like?

    Some of the stuff shown in the video seem to be somewhat gimmicky – yes it’s cool to be able to add in the drawings etc. on the fly, display videos etc. etc. but isn’t this special effects at the expense of plot, i.e. planning and designing a presentation/slideshow as part of a teaching and learning experience?


    • fboylan says:

      Thanks Steve – and just to say iAnnotate is available from both apps stores too if you want to check it out. I did consider including it in this series but it’s €8.99 from iTunes so thought participants might be more likely to try out Explain Everything in the context of the 12 days.


      • Agreed – yes it is more expensive but it is excellent! There is a fantastic workflow where you get IAnnotate-Dropbox-Mendeley to talk to each other; read papers on the tablet, make annotations, sync with dropbox, notes etc. available to search in Mendeley. This can also hook into shared folders etc. so excellent for collaborative stuff.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. pingcao says:

    Great! Look like it’d be a good way of providing feedback. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. We got a Samsung Note 10.1 here to test this sort of app and I love the stylus and the ability to write on the screen – very responsive and clear – I would say it is great for doing maths videos. As it happens I just got this app last week. I have not had time to look at it in depth but I had a few issues:

    You seem to need to import all the content before recording as opposed to recording whatever you happen to be looking at. For example, say I wanted to record a demonstration of using a web service, I could not go to that web-page and then just turn on recording. Perhaps I have not fully checked out the features of the app yet.

    Also, when I went to generate the output recording, it seemed to go into replay mode. Not too bad for bad for short recordings but perhaps a bit slow for longer ones. Again, I may not have been using the app correctly.

    When I get some time I’m going to check out Lecture Notes and Lecture Video from Acadoid – i’ll let you know how that goes.

    Keep up the good work.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Brian, do you have any info re. the rate of production of video files from the app?


      • Steve, I’m afraid I’m going to have to get some time to try it out in more detail. Do you mean, how long it takes to process a recording?



      • Steve and all – the latest on using Explain Everything and Lecture Notes/Recordings on Samsung 10.1 (with stylus).

        The stylus is brilliant for writing but both apps are very awkward for recording and really slow to process – a 40 minute recording had to be left on all night. It may be that we are very used to PC applications like Snagit, Camtasia and particularly Panopto. Our problem is that an application that an enthusiast would master is not necessarily suitable for a regular lecturer who has no great love of technology. I’m not sure i would recommend either of these for such “regular” lecturers. Seán Mullery, here, is going to do some more testing but to date this is a little disappointing. We’ll see how it goes.


  7. thanks for this, not seen it before but have been using screencast-o-matic which I really like


  8. Anyone know if these sort of functions will be present in the 2015 touch optimised powerpoint?


  9. Thats excellent. I hadn’t come across this. Lots of uses for maths etc.


  10. lauramc2012 says:

    Like Brian, I like the stylus, very neat. I have been using Camtasia for screencasts, I feel like a dynasaur now! Anyway, I need to explore this further and give it some thought, not sure how I could use it. I teach foreign languages, flipped classrooms don’t seem to work well with languages (but I am open to suggestions).


  11. I have been meaning to try this for a while, since seeing at EdTech last May how Padraig Dunne of UCD used it to create physics tutorials (ePoster with Diane Cashman, – thanks Frances for the clear intro and for the suggestions in the comments above.

    Any recommendations for a stylus to use with iPad?

    BTW I have played with Vittle, a free option that allows you to record up to 1 minute of video:


  12. Looks great, thanks Frances for the clear intro, and for the suggestions in the comments above.

    I have been meaning to try this for a while, since seeing at EdTech last May how Padraig Dunne of UCD used it to create physics tutorials (ePoster with Diane Cashman,

    BTW I have played with Vittle, a free option that allows you to record up to 1 minute of video:


  13. suejohnston says:

    I’ve used Jing quite extensively but this is so much more robust — and easy to use! It looks like it would be well worth the cost.


  14. Quick, easy to use and I think the students enjoy this type of multimedia feedback.


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