Screencasting, the practice of capturing what is on a user’s screen, is a growing trend. The technology can be used to create training videos when teaching software, or other computer-related tasks. Several software publishers have come out with some large and expensive software for this task, such as RoboDemo, Captivate and Camtasia, but TeacherJay wanted to take a moment to tell his readers about the Jing Project, and some its many uses.
The Jing Project is an experimental software from TechSmith, publishers of SnagIt and Camtasia (among others) – two of the leading screen capture applications. This new project combines the best of both, is free and is easy to use. Once installed, the software leaves a small yellow circle on the screen. Clicking it brings up icons to change settings or to capture. Once the capture, button is pressed, yellow bars appear on the screen for the user to select an area to capture and then an option to capture a still image or a video. For an image a snapshot is made and a new window appears in which the user can add test, arrows or highlight a portion and then save the image. For videos, stop, pause and mute buttons appear. When the recording is stopped an instant playback window appears and he file can be saved, or shared on Screencast.com.
TeacherJay can think a lot of interesting uses for the program in an educational setting. Some of the most basic ideas are simply making screenshots of windows to print out and show to students just getting used to the computer to show them what they may see; or even making reference materials of things like the list of commands under the File Menu. A little bit more involved include making screencasts of common and/or difficult procedures for students, such as logging into particular programs, or attaching a file to an e-mail. More advanced screencasts may use the audio recorder to make demonstrations complete with voice-over of doing things like adding transitions to PowerPoint Presentations or even how to show teachers how to use gradebook software.
Overall, TeacherJay recommends Jing Project for the novice user. It makes capturing simple images and videos much easier. PNG is a very common format that can be used on the web and imported into a more powerful image-editing application, such as the GIMP. SWF files require the Adobe Flash player, which most people will have, but they cannot be edited once they are created. Still, considering this software is free, it’s a great way to get started in screencasting.