Cool free app for combining screen shots or screen motion with audio, to create instructional presentations.
This week I got my Jing on! I recently heard about Jing (found on the web at jingproject.com), and after a quick visit to their web site I knew that this might be the type of tool I've been thinking about trying out for creating some brief instructional videos. The fact that it was free made it a no brainer to go ahead take for a spin (there is also a paid version, with a little more functionality – more on that below).
Jing lets you capture screen shots or capture screen motion (a.k.a. “screencasting”), and record audio at the same time. Captured images can be annotated with text, arrows, and highlights. This makes it pretty easy to make a brief presentation to demonstrate how to do something on the computer.
Jing in action
I used Jing to create the video that I've embedded below (this tutorial discusses e-mail storage constraints and some suggestions on how to work with them). I used the (inexpensive) paid version of Jing, since I wanted to create a file to load on YouTube where it would be readily accessible. Jing also enables easy sharing of presentations through Screencast.com. See below for more on the differences between the free and paid versions.
To make this video, I created a Powerpoint Presentation, which I played slide by slide and spoke over. I interspersed this with captures of screen activity in Outlook, where I demonstrated a few ideas as I discussed them.
While the result is only 5 minutes long (Jing videos are limited to 5 minutes), it shouldn't come as a big surprise that it took a much longer time to put together. I had to script out what I wanted to discuss, create the PowerPoint slide deck, practice the presentation, and record it a couple times to try and get a good take (I still made a couple minor errors). The good part is that it was simple to do from a technical perspective and the result can be viewed over and over again.
For an overview of how to use Jing to create presentations, check out this video from the Jing web site.
Free vs. Paid options
The free version of Jing has a great deal of functionality, and will probably be more than adequate for most users. If you find you really like the product, but require some of the advanced features, the good news is that the paid version is very inexpensive at only $14.95 per year.
One main difference between the Paid and Free options for Jing appears to be the ability to save files in MP4 format using the paid option, which makes it easy to upload high quality copies of your Jing presentations to YouTube and similar hosting sites. Another advantage of the paid version is better quality motion capture for screencasting, although this is probably only important if you are capturing from a video source. You can also capture directly from a Webcam using the paid version.
Improving learning outcomes with tools like Jing
So, how can tutorial presentations like this help to enhance learning outcomes? By using both visual and audio content, they engage the visual and auditory learner, which is a good thing (but of course nothing is quite as engaging as an enthusiastic instructor!). Being able to easily rewind and replay this a presentation on demand is another benefit of this format.
I believe that one very good way in which a presentation tool like this can be used constructively is to have students view it outside of the classroom (as homework, for example), or perhaps at the start of a class session. Valuable, face-to-face classroom time can then be focused on reviewing and discussing the tutorial's content, and reinforcing and practicing it's lessons.
Next week I am going to look into other tools like Jing, and related tools like Screencast.com. Throughout the month I will be focusing on free and low cost tools for for creating engaging presentations and instructional materials. I hope you'll join me, and as always, please offer comments and share any insights, questions, etc. – I love to hear your feedback, and other readers do too!
[Ed. Note – I just noticed this “Introduction to Screen Capture in Education” page on the Jing site, figured I should include mention of it here. – KW].