As of April 7th, 2020, school closures due to coronavirus have impacted at least 124,000 U.S. public and private schools and affected at least 55.1 million students.
Many of these schools, both domestically and internationally, have turned to technology to recreate the classroom experience despite social distancing, self-isolation, and stay-at-home orders.
Companies have quickly risen to the challenge of supporting teachers searching for distance learning solutions. Find out how one company:
- Created a Chrome extension for anyone who needs a better way to communicate
- Quickly scaled to meets the needs of a 340% increase in daily users
- Has granted all impacted educators free access to their suite of products
- Is focusing on emails that provide helpful information — not noise
How making it easier to record computer screens led to 12 million users
Screencastify is a Chrome extension used by more than 12 million people to easily record, edit, and share videos. It is especially popular with teachers who make screencasts and webcam recordings to share with students — but it’s used by anyone who needs a better way to communicate, from corporations to Youtube stars.
“Before Screencastify, it was shockingly expensive and complicated to record and share screencasts. Five years ago, we shared a free extension to see if anyone would use it and all of a sudden, there were millions of educators downloading it. We accidentally discovered the opportunity to serve a large group of the education population.” – Laura Litton, Director of District Partnerships at Screencastify
With Screencastify, educators can easily create:
- Full and/or bite-sized lessons
- Assignment solutions and explanations
- Verbal student feedback by recording your tab, whole screen, or webcam
- Sharable content via Google Drive, Google Classroom, or YouTube
Anyone with a Chrome browser can get started with Screencastify for free.
It’s one thing to create a popular extension that makes communicating easier. What happens when that tool becomes necessary for educators teaching remotely, and the demand threatens to overwhelm your ability to support your customers?
How Screencastify helped hundreds of thousands of educators quickly start teaching remotely
With COVID-19 leading to an exponential increase in school closures, educators across the globe have sought ways to digitize their curriculum and communications. Screencastify has seen a surge in usage unlike any they’ve ever experienced.
School closings across the globe reflect the situation faced within the United States. (Source: Education Week, as of April 7th, 2020).
How much of a surge? In the week of March 6th – 13th, Screencastify experienced:
- 497% increase in videos made per day
- 340% increase in daily users
- 1 million+ minutes recorded
Screencastify employs only 10 people, so they’ve had to re-allocate their internal resources to where they’ll be most helpful. The small team — now working remotely from their homes in Chicago — is working around the clock to make sure that everything continues to run smoothly.
Laura explains, “Everyone, from our Product Manager to our CEO, is responding and reacting to our new influx of educators using Screencastify for the first time. It’s all hands on deck, to make sure teachers are getting the help and resources they need.”
Thousands of teachers have turned to Screencastify as a way to make “non-traditional instruction” (NTI) more accessible during this difficult time (source: Twitter).
They haven’t stopped at beefed-up support measures. Screencastify has taken further steps to help educators during COVID-19, including granting all impacted educators free access to their suite of products through at least May 31.
To help flatten the curve in their hometown of Chicago, Screencastify also donated $10,000 to Advocate Healthcare’s COVID-19 efforts. Advocate was the first hospital in the Chicagoland area to set up free drive-thru coronavirus testing.
How can you scale quickly when teachers need your product now?
After Screencastify decided to offer their tools for free and saw their growth accelerate even more, they needed a plan…and fast. They began with the kinds of support questions new educators asked most often.
“We created a ‘Thanks so much for trying Screencastify Unlimited, here are frequently asked questions’ message’ that people get when they first sign up using the coupon code,” Laura explains.
Screencastify is also in the process of releasing its newest product, Submit. They need to gather feedback to make it as impactful as possible for teachers and students. “We use a lot of what ActiveCampaign offers in automations to make sure educators do not get overloaded with information. We want to make sure that the emails they get are helpful.”
Screencastify provides educators additional resources through their blog, like this beginner’s guide to using their extension.
Laura says that a big part of what makes ActiveCampaign so valuable is that Screencastify is a team of 10 people managing thousands of new users within any 24-hour window. ActiveCampaign helps Screencastify scale — without teachers feeling any pain on their end from such a huge spike in growth.
“I don’t know that there would have been another way for us to possibly handle everything had it not been for ActiveCampaign. We have sent thousands of new users through a welcome email series, made sure that they’re getting tagged appropriately and hitting goals…and we’re able to capture data so we can make better decisions.” — Laura Litton
Sending the right message at the right time is more important now than ever
“Educators are truly rising to an unbelievable challenge of continuing to care for, educate, and love their students during this difficult time.” — Laura Litton
Teachers across the world were told that their schools were closing, often with only a few days’ notice. With that sudden shift, businesses quickly started to send out emails about what they were doing in response to COVID-19. To many people, receiving these emails started to seem like an inundation of form letters that businesses felt required to send.
“I think we’ve all gotten to a place where we’ve begun to feel oversaturated with information from businesses who want to be helpful by reaching out with opportunities, offers, and strategies,” Laura says. “I feel that what our team is trying to do at this point is take a step back and reassess: Where are the gaps in information and action that we can actually help to fill?”
Teachers, parents, and employees are feeling overloaded: They’re learning multiple new tools on the fly. So how do businesses not add to the noise?
Teachers have had to learn a lot of new tech in as little as a week (source: Twitter).
Laura says, “Just recognize that there are people that are reaching out to you who are hungry for an answer. Use messaging and resources in a way where people get ‘just in time’ information. Not ‘ahead of time’ information by the boatload that they can’t use.”
How can Screencastify be part of that solution?
“We’ll wait for you to come to us when you need us,” explains Laura. “We will continue to find ways to be helpful and not feel like aggressive marketing. We want to be a deep breath for the teachers and parents that are learning a whole new way to educate.”
James Francis, Screencastify’s CEO, sums it up like this:
“To all the educators going to never-before-seen lengths to support their students: Thank you.”
Screencastify allows for a little bit of normality when so much in students’ (and teachers’) lives has been upended (source: Twitter).