Using Video for Assessment

Using video as an assessment tool has multiple applications for learning. Students might use video as a self- or peer-assessment tool in classes such as science, public speaking, theatre, education or business. For example, a medical student might record a simulated patient interaction to self-assess her communication skills (Zick, Granieri, & Makoul, 2007). Another student might record a practice presentation to review his content, mannerisms and posture for a public speaking class, before submitting a more formal video to an online instructor. Group members working at a distance might record themselves describing their part of a group project in order to get feedback from the rest of the group.

Instructors may use student-produced videos to assess their students’ understanding and skill in a variety of classes such as chemistry, mathematics, foreign languages and many more. For example, an instructor might ask the students in her French class to use video to create a digital story in which the students speak only French. An organic chemistry professor might ask students to respond to an exam question with a video showing the student building a molecule with a molecular model kit (Tierney, Bodek, Fredricks, Dudkin, & Kistler, 2014).

One of the simplest ways to create videos for assessment is to use one of the many screen capture programs that allow the user to capture input from the computer screen and a webcam. Screencast-O-Matic is one example of a screen capture program that allows users to create quick, simple videos with minimal training or cost. With just a few clicks, users can begin recording. See a quick overview of how the tool works.

Benefits and Challenges

In online courses, it is helpful to choose technology tools that do not have a steep learning curve or additional cost for students. Screencast-O-Matic is one of the easiest screen capture tools for students to access and use, and it does not require students to purchase the product. Students can record a video of up to 15 minutes and easily upload the video to their YouTube account or download the video file to their computer in the widely-used mp4 format.

Some challenges with using Screencast-O-Matic (or any other) video for assessment might include student understanding of video concerns such as lighting and sound quality. These issues can be addressed by providing students with a brief tutorial to help them learn about best practices for recording videos. Another challenge may be student access to equipment such as desktop/laptop computer and webcam. Some students are taking online classes from their mobile device, so they may not have access to the equipment needed to use Screencast-O-Matic. As with most assigned technology tasks, it may be best to provide students with options; in this case, the instructor might suggest a mobile app option for recording.

In addition to skill and equipment issues, students and instructors may find the idea of video assessment challenging because it is not commonly used. The challenge for students may be understanding the value of the process as it relates to assessment and learning. The challenge for instructors may be deciding how to effectively use video for assessment.

Sample Learning Objectives for Video Assessment

Sample learning objective for an online Spanish class:
“After completing the language and family unit, the student will create a 3-minute video describing their family using at least ten Spanish language words introduced in the module.”

Sample learning objective for an online health education class:
“After completion of the physical fitness module, the student will create a two-minute public service announcement video correctly describing at least five benefits of physical activity for middle school students.

Sample learning objective for an online public speaking class:
"Given a topic for debate, the student will video record a persuasive speech supporting their viewpoint that accurately uses three persuasive techniques.

Sample learning objective for an online anatomy & physiology class:
“Given a digital diagram of the human skull, the student will indicate through video, the name and location of the bones of the skull with 100% accuracy.”

Pros and Cons of Screencast-O-Matic

Here is a more detailed breakdown of the pros and cons of the Screencast-O-Matic program.

Pros include:

  • No software purchase required (Expanded “pro” version can be purchased for $15 per year.)
  • Website contains short easy-to-follow tutorials (with closed captioning)
  • Users can download the standalone app or use the tool through their browser
  • Interface is simple with easy-to-use controls
  • Video can be published to YouTube or downloaded as an mp4 video file
  • Users can upload a simple text file to provide captioning
  • Cursor is highlighted on screen recording

Cons include:

  • Not available for recording on mobile devices
  • Requires Java to be installed and updated on the computer
  • Free version limits editing to trimming the ends of the video
  • Free version adds “Screencast-O-Matic” logo to the video
  • Free version provides limited export options


Zick, A.; Granieri, M.; Makoul, G. (2007). “First-year medical students’ assessment of their own communication skills: A video-based, open-ended approach.” Patient Education and Counseling, 68, 161-166.

Tierney, J.; Bodek, M.; Fredricks, S.; Dudkin, E.; Kistler, K. (2014). “Using web-based video as an assessment tool for student performance in organic chemistry.” Journal of Chemical Education, 91, 982-986.

Tierney, J.; Bodek, M.; Fredricks, S.; Dudkin, E.; Kistler, K. (2014). “Using web-based video as an assessment tool for student performance in organic chemistry.” Journal of Chemical Education, 91, 982-986.