I have been teaching online for around three years now. One of the first pieces of software I started using was ManyCam for my online classes. They offer free and paid options.
I used the free option for about a year, before deciding to buy the software. The free version offers enough features to give you a chance to see whether you like it and it is suitable for your classes.
For a while, I stopped using it. I can’t remember the exact reason, but maybe I just took a break from it. I do remember though having a lesson where interest in the class was starting to wane.
For whatever reason, I decided to put up a cartoon picture of a shark. The students were early teens, so not so young, but for some reason, they thought it was hilarious and my interest in ManyCam began again.
What is ManyCam?
ManyCam is a powerful piece of software for live streaming. I use it mainly for my backgrounds – I select an appropriate image for the lesson. Recently, ManyCam started supporting video also, which I sometimes use for my lessons.
Students are amazed by video backgrounds. It is not a requirement to have a green screen, but I think it works better with a green screen.
Where to Find Images and Videos to Use with ManyCam
I usually go to Pixabay which has free stock images and video. You can download short 10-15 second videos, which I just play on a loop. It can make it seem like you are at a park, zoo, aquarium, or wherever you want to be.
ManyCam has thousands of images that you can search and download. ManyCam customers can contribute to the images, so you can find images for almost any vocabulary item.
Images are not just static though, you can find many virtual masks that move around with your head. These are similar to what you can find in Facebook chat and Snapchat. Kids love them, but you do need to be careful not to choose anything that might be scary.
ManyCam is extremely interactive and supports many different multimedia formats. It also supports layers, so you can add various formats all on the one screen.
The user interface is fairly intuitive and you can work out most functions just by clicking around the options. You do need to have a fairly decent computer to run it. Otherwise, you could have problems with the video freezing or other problems.
ManyCam has various features for live streaming to Youtube and Facebook, as well as options for online game players.
Plans and Licenses for ManyCam
Along with the free version, they have standard, studio, and premium options. I bought and recommend the studio version since it supports virtual backgrounds, which is one of the main reasons I use ManyCam.
You can install it on up to two devices, so could share the cost with a friend. They have annual and lifetime subscriptions. The lifetime subscription is just a little more than the annual license, so I would strongly recommend getting the lifetime version.
Where Can I Find Ideas on How to Use ManyCam in the Online Classroom?
There is a great group on Facebook called “ManyCam & Digital Effects for Online Teachers”. People use the group for support but some teachers share ideas about how they use ManyCam in their classrooms.
I have picked up some great ideas from the group. Many different well-known online schools use ManyCam, so it does work well with most online teaching platforms.
Manycam has a virtual camera so you just need to start the program. Then, in your teaching platform, select ManyCam in the settings where you usually select your webcam.
I have tried some other programs like OBS (Open Broadcaster Software) and Chromacam, which support virtual backgrounds. However, I don’t think they offer anything near the different capabilities which ManyCam offers.
This post was written by Mike Henry, the founder of English Forum – a site for students and teachers to meet and share ideas and experiences teaching and learning English.