Thursday, 30 December 2010

Using Jing for screencasting

Last week, I introduced you to Jing for screen captures. A screen capture is essentially taking a snapshot of whatever is on your screen. In this post, I am going to explain how to use Jing for screencasting.

Screencasting is taking a brief video of whatever is on your screen and recording your voice if you choose, rather than a static picture. If you also have Camtasia installed, you can use that to edit the screencast with more features, or use it to create longer screencasts as well as other types of video.

In this post, I am going to assume you do not have Camtasia installed.

To begin with, we need to download Jing. To find out how to download and install Jing, look back at last week's post about using Jing for screen captures.

Once Jing is installed and we have the yellow sun on the edge of our screen, we can begin using it for the screencast. Before you do that, it is always a good idea to run through a basic checklist first:
  • check your microphone and speakers (preferably, use a headset with a microphone)
  • rehearse (this may include a script or it may not, but always know what you want to say before hand)
  • preload any webpages or software before the recording
  • anticipate background noise levels - move to a new location if necessary
  • the pause button is your friend, but don't abuse it (using pause too often can make the audio and video seem choppy)
  • Keep it simple with a good pace (you only have 5 minutes, make them count!)
  • avoid the "ums" and "ahhs"!
  • Make sure you have a free account at to house your videos for sharing.
Starting your screencast:

  1. Hover over the sun icon and wait for the three options to appear.
  2. Select the crosshairs.
  3. Select the region of your screen to record by clicking, dragging and clicking again.
  4. Select "Capture Video" from the resulting menu bar.
  5. Jing will give you a 5 second grace period (which cannot be changed) and a confirmation message that the microphone is on before you begin.
  6. During recording, you will see a small toolbar below the recording window with 5 buttons (stop, pause, mic on/off, restart recording, cancel) as well as a progress bar.
  7. When finished your recording, click stop (orange square on black button).
  8. Jing will ask you to provide a file name, and provide a new toolbar below the video window with 5 new buttons (share - send to, save to computer, edit with Camtasia, cancel and customize). Enter the file name and decide how to deal with the video. I will assume you decide to share.
  9. In the free account, screencasts are only in SWF format. Other formats are available in the pro version.
  10. Click the share button.
  11. As long as you have a account already, the upload will begin. A progress window will show you how things are going.
  12. Jing automatically places a link on your clipboard for pasting.
  13. Congratulations!
Don't be put off by the number of steps. It takes less time than making the video itself in most cases.

I have used Jing for screencasting for quite a while for creating videos for every group of people in my school. It is great for demonstrating software, network navigation, lesson content, etc. It is an excellent tool for supporting learning. I highly recommend it. 
Good luck!

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Using Jing for Screen Captures and Screencasting

Recently I was asked how I create screen shots with arrows and short captions for assisting my learners either in learning how to use new websites or identifying steps to be taken during an engagement.

Over the past several years I have used a wide variety of tools to help visually explain or identify key areas of a message I was trying to get across. I’ve basically settled on two tools, both by the same company but used, in my circumstances, for two different purposes.

In this post, I’ll be introducing you to a downloadable tool called “Jing” which is from Techsmith in the US. I don’t usually recommend downloadable tools because of the growing number of online options available for most jobs. However, Jing and its big brother Camtasia are, for my purposes, the best possible solutions to my screen capture and screencasting needs.

Briefly, Jing is a screen capture (takes a snapshot of whatever is on your screen) and a screencasting (creates a 5min maximum video of whatever is on your screen) tool from Techsmith. It is free (but you can buy the pro version for about $15.00/yr), and it allows you to store your video and images at Techsmith’s online storage facility called account or pro available).

I absolutely love this tool (it's one of the first 5 things I recommend downloading for every new system) because it's easy to download and install, a breeze to access (as you’ll see) and allows direct uploading of captures/screencasts to your online account. It also provides options for including captions, arrows and creating screencasts.

This is where you can find it: Jing from Techsmith

Here is an example of a screenshot I took a while back using Jing:

As you can see, screenshots with captions can really help explain a procedure or series of steps much better than simple text.

Here is the procedure to install and start using Jing:
1.    Go to the Techsmith Jing website.

2.    Click download:

 3.    On the next page, decide between the download for Windows or the download for Mac.

4.    Afterwards, this window will open:

5.    Find and click on the "jing_setup.exe" file you have just downloaded and follow the installation instructions.

6.    Once Jing is installed. You will see a little yellow sun appear somewhere on the border of your screen, which will look similar to this:

7.    To use Jing for a screen capture, hover over the sun for a second and then select the crosshairs (see the image above). Then select your region to capture by dragging your mouse to enlarge the rectangular capture area.

8.    As soon as you let your finger off the mouse, the area you have selected is captured and comes up in an editing window, like this:

9.    You can then use the tools along the left of the window to annotate your pictures with arrows, text, boxes, etc.

10.    Now, all that remains to be done is to decide what to do with the capture. You can,
share it through, save it to your computer, edit it with Snagit or Camtasia if you have either one installed or delete the capture.

11.    If you decide to share it, the link is instantly available on your clipboard to paste wherever you need it.

I have been using Jing for screen captures and screencasts for sometime and I really like it. It’s a straight forward, no nonsense capture tool that gets the job done quickly and efficiently. I have used Jing’s screen capture facility to give instructions on using new or unfamiliar websites to learners and highlight important locations on Google Earth or important words, phrases, sentences or other text features before, during or after F2F sessions with my learners. My kids and I appreciate how easy it is to use, and my kids appreciate the added clarity it brings to instructions and engagements.

In my next post, I’ll demonstrate using Jing as a screencasting tool for brief 5 minute video masterpieces :)

Good Luck!

Friday, 17 December 2010

Yahoo! to focus on core business (Updated)

"Broken Pencil"  photo © Michael Jastremski
for CC:Attribution-ShareAlike
It looks as though Yahoo! has decided to shutter Delicious, the social bookmarking site. The date of closure has not been mentioned so far but this is connected to the cutting of 600 jobs recently.
According to the website, which has posted comments from the Yahoo! website, Yahoo! has now clarified the situation, pointing out that they intend to sell Delicious rather than close it. You can read the full statement here.   

Obviously, I am not alone when I say I am very disappointed  relieved by this news. I have been with Delicious since March 2006 and have thousands of bookmarks for my network, other colleagues, personal interest and so on. Over the last year I have done workshops, and other PD meetings on using social bookmarking sites and Delicious in particular.

Nevertheless, this does bring up the sensitive issue of exactly how much we can trust online services which are free? (Despite the clarification by Yahoo! This point is still an issue, as it is with any other free service on the web.)

In an effort to help those of us who are looking for alternative sites  a secondary site to move to  use here is an incomplete list of possible options to help you get started in absolutely no order of preference.
Good luck, and remember to add me to your new network!

As mentioned, I have been with Delicious for years. But I've learned my lesson from the rumour mill! That is, have a backup! I'm going to stick with Delicious for the time being and add a backup service and to see how events unfold. Let's face it, moving the resources is not difficult, but I'm glad I don't need to do it!

Good luck!