Thursday, January 5, 2017

Video Dubbing Learning Activities for Students

When I was a kid, we used to find creative ways to keep ourselves entertained. One of our favorites was the Dubbing Game. Basically we would turn on the TV, find a good show, and then turn off the volume. Then we would make up new lines for the characters on TV (bonus points for using funny voices). I am sure we thought it was much funnier than it really was.

As an adult, I have seen the same idea done on the show “Whose Line is it Anyway?” where they play the improv game called “Film Dub”. (I am sure they are much funnier than we ever were.)

Although dubbing a video can be a great source of entertainment, it actually can be very educational as well. There are quite a few learning activities for students when they take a video, remove the original audio, and add their own narration.

See the rest of the blog post below for ideas on how video dubbing can be used for student learning and creativity, and a free and simple technology tool they can use to create the dubbed videos.

Uses for Video Dubbing

There are many creative ways video dubbing can be used by your students. Below are just a few ideas:
  • Practice translation - Students can take a video in a foreign language and speak the dialog in their own language, or vice versa they can take a video in their native language and speak it in a language they are learning.
  • Interpret a story - Students could act out a scene from a movie or show verbatim. This would give them the opportunity to act out the text to express their understanding of the story.
  • Reinterpret a story - Or students could rewrite the original dialog in more modern language, or in simpler terms, or just in a new style. Again this would allow them to show their understanding of the purpose and themes of the original story. For example, they could write contemporary dialog for Hamlet.
  • Tell a whole new story - Or students could be totally creative and make up a completely new story, replacing the original dialog with a new narrative that fits the actions being shown on screen.
  • Create commentary - Finally students could make their own commentary track for a video. This could be them describing what is happening, or offering their critique, telling a historical backstory, or explaining a scientific concept that can be seen in the video

Using Screencastify for Video Dubbing

Just as there are many educational uses for video dubbing, there are also many different technology tools that could be used to do the dubbing. Certainly you could do this with video editing tools such as WeVideo, Adobe Premiere, or iMovie.

Although all of those programs would work fine, there is another tool that is totally free, and super easy to use, which may be a perfect fit. That tool is Screencastify.

Below are the steps students can follow for video dubbing with Screencastify:
  1. Install and configure the Screencastify extension.
  2. Tweak the video settings.
  3. Record your voiceover with Screencastify.
  4. Share your final video.

Step 1: Install and configure the Screencastify extension

Begin by installing the Screencastify extension from the Chrome Web Store: Chrome Web Store link

Note: Because this is a Chrome Extensions, you need to be using Chrome on a PC, Mac, or Chromebook to be able to use this tool.

After installing the extension, click on its icon once to set up its one-time initial configuration. Screencastify will ask for three permissions to be set.
  • First, Screencastify will ask for permission to use your webcam and microphone, which you will need to allow.
  • Next, it will ask where to save your videos. I recommend having the videos saved to Google Drive since you have unlimited storage in Google Apps for Education and the videos are easy to share with others. When asked, you will need to give permission for Screencastify to save to your Drive.
  • For the last permission, it will ask to be able to record your browser tabs.
Screencastify is now setup and ready for use!

Step 2: Tweak the video settings

Next you need to find a video online that you want to add your voice narration to. (For the directions below I will be using a video from YouTube.) Once you find the video you want, there are a few settings you will probably want to adjust to improve the recording:
  1. Display the video full tab.
  2. Set a start and stop time (optional).
  3. Mute the audio in the video.

Tech Tip - To save you time and hassle, I have created a Google Sheets template that will take your YouTube video URL, and will create a new URL that will force the video to play full-tab, and will start and stop at the times your set.

Although the directions are explained below on how to do this by hand, you may prefer to simply use the spreadsheet to do all the dirty work for you.

Display the video full tab

When you use Screencastify to record the video, you will want the video to fill up the full recording area. One option for Screencastify is to record an entire tab in your browser, so what we want to do is play the video so it fills up the entire tab. You can do this with a YouTube video by changing the URL slightly.

A typical YouTube video URL looks like this:

What you want to do is change the part that reads "/watch?v=" to "/embed/"

By doing so, your new URL will look like this:

Now when you use that link the YouTube video will fill the entire tab in your browser when played. You can click the two links above to see the difference.

Set a start and stop time (optional)

Sometimes you will not want to dub over the entire video, but instead just want to use a certain portion. YouTube allows you to set a start time and stop time when playing a video. Again this can be done by altering the video URL.

In this case you will want to add onto the end of the URL the "start" command with how many seconds into the video to begin playing, and the "end" command with how many seconds into the video to stop playing.

By doing so, your new URL will look like this:

Again, you can click the link above to see how this will only play the video from 53 seconds to 59 seconds.

Mute the audio in the video

Finally you will want to mute the audio in the YouTube video so it does not make any noise when playing, so you can add your own voice. You can mute the audio in a YouTube video a couple different ways:
  • You can click on the speaker icon in the bottom left corner to toggle the audio off and on.
  • Or you can press the "m" key on your keyboard (for "mute") to toggle the audio off and on.

Step 3: Record your voiceover with Screencastify

Now that you have the video ready to go, you can use Screencastify to record the video along with your voice. With the YouTube video ready to go, do the following:

  • Click the Screencastify extension in your top right corner of Chrome.
  • Select the "Tab" option.
  • Select your microphone from the menu (if not already selected).
  • Turn off the option to embed your webcam (if you just want to record your voice and not your face).
  • Finally click "Start Recording".
  • Now click the play button for the YouTube video so it will start playing.
  • Now speak your narration, commentary, or voiceover dialog.
  • Screencastify will record everything on the screen and everything you say.
  • When done click the Screencastify extension again and click "End Recording".
  • You will now see the recorded video to review if you wish.
  • Give the video a relevant name by clicking on the title in the top left of the screen.

Your dubbed video is now done and saved to your Google Drive!

Step 4: Share your final video

The great thing about Screencastify is that it saves your recorded video to your Google Drive. This makes it very easy to share your video with others. You can share the video a few ways:

If you are still inside of the Screencastify window with your recorded video, you can get the sharable link for your video right there.

  • Click the Google Drive "Copy Link" icon in the top right corner of the screen to share the video and copy the link.
  • The link to the video can now be given to anyone so they can view your video. This could be done through email, or in Google Classroom, on social media, on your website, or such.

If you are no longer in the Screencastify window, you can share your video from your Google Drive.

  • Open your Google Drive and go to the "Screencastify" folder.
  • There you will find all of your recordings.
  • Select the video you want to share and then share as normal by clicking the share button in the top menu bar of Drive, or by right-clicking on the video and choosing "Share".

Sample Dubbed Video

As an example, see the video below where I dubbed my voice talking about how Chinchillas take dust baths:

Note: The dub was made from an original video by user “mikaylab93” at with a “Creative Commons Attribution license (reuse allowed)”.


Video dubbing can be a fun and educational way for students to be creative, share information, and express their understanding. If your students create any dubbed videos, please share what they did and how the process went.

Also, if you would like to learn more about using Screencastify for learning activities, and would like to see a step by step walkthrough of the video dubbing process, feel free to join me for my free webinar on January 12th:

Super Screencastify Activities for Schools
January 12, 2017 - 3:30pm to 4:30pm EST
Webinar link - (click to register and watch live webinar)
Description: Screencastify is a free Google Chrome web extension that lets you or your students record your computer screen, voice, and webcam. The recorded video can then be saved easily to Drive or downloaded. Learn how to install and use this tool, and then explore ways this can be used in schools including instructional videos, student projects, teacher feedback, narrating slideshows, giving speeches, dubbing videos, explaining solutions, and much more.

Post by Eric Curts. Connect with Eric on Twitter at and on Google+ at


  1. It be great if we could use the start / stop time url trick when we add a YouTube video to a Google Slide. It's all or nothing with Slides and I have looked! Lots of teachers ask for this. Maybe if enough people used the feedback button in slides it will happen

  2. I just received the exact same request from a teacher. I was able to create a shortened video using Screencastify and your template but we can't figure out how to get the resulting file into the student's slide and play IN the slide. I got close. I was able to put an image in the student's slide and add the Screencastify link for the short video to that image. When I played the slide and clicked on the image however, it took us out of the slide and played in a new tab.

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