Jing is a tool that can be downloaded and used to supplement to any form of online communication in which an instructor or student needs to share a screenshot or screencast with other users. It is currently free from TechSmith, makers of other fine programs like Camtasia Studio and SnagIt.
The learning goals for this tool are defined by the user. Jing will typically be used to visually demonstrate how to complete a computer-related task such as how to use a particular software program. Jing authors will be creating Flash movies without having to know Flash.
Jing is a supplement to chat discussions, email threads, forum posts and blob entries. It allows users to demonstrate and share screen captures for whatever their purpose might be.
Target Student Population:
Students of all levels can benefit from viewing content created with Jing. Many students will be able to make their own content using this tool. Faculty from K-12 to University level can use this successfully.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
General computer knowledge is necessary. A basic understanding of how content is stored on the Internet is helpful when choosing where to save content.
Type of Material:
Jing is a true learning object that can be used to create customized content for an online course.
Jing can be used to demonstrate software use, to share information and data. It is simple to use and can be adapted to use in classes as well as outside classes. Faculty and students working in online environments are excellent candidates for this tool.
PC users will need Windows XP & Vista, Microsoft .Net Framework 3.0, Flash Player 6 or higher, 8MB of free hard drive space, and at least 1GB of RAM.
Mac users will need OSX 10.4.9 or later, Flash Player 6 or higher, 8MB of free hard drive space, and at least 1GB of RAM.
Jing is easy to use but novice computer users will want some traing before use.
Evaluation and Observation
Jing is a content creation tool so the quality will be determined by those using the tool. The visual nature of the tool makes it an excellent way to show students how to complete computer-related tasks. Jing is a wonderful tool. It is free and allows users to be as creative as possible in developing course work and training for colleagues and students.
Jing limits users to five minute screencasts. This can make it challenging if the task being demonstrated takes longer than five minutes to explain. On the other hand, Jing forces the user to be concise and to consider content chunking which are good practices, especially in online training.
At some point, Jing may become commercial and we would not feel comfortable endorsing a product that requires payment.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
The objective in using Jing is to create an animated tutorial or screen shots that will help a learner to better understand how to complete a computer-related task. The user will have the ability to replay the tutorial without relying on words alone to understand how to complete a task. Jing has great potential to be used by both online instructors and learners. Instructors can use it to show how to complete a task. Students can use it to show how they successfully completed the task or where they are running into problems.
Jing is currently a free tool and TechSmith (company that makes Jing) provides free storage for uploaded files. Once an account has been set up, it is easy to share screenshots and screencasts by email, web, and texting. Another huge strength is that screenshots and screencasts can be created and viewed on both Mac and PC so an instructor can assign projects using Jing and not worry that all students cant participate. Note: There is no information about whether it can be run on Linux machine so that may be a concern at some institutions.
The product is a tool and there are no directions as to ways in which it might be used successfully.
TechSmith isnt sure if Jing will be free forever. Hopefully, they will find a way to support it with ads or for a small annual fee.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
Once Jing has been installed, it shows up a small gold dot at the top of the screen. This make it available anytime a user has something to share. Clicking on the dot brings up three option paths: Capture, History, and More. Tutorials are provided but probably unnecessary for digital natives.
Some may not like the gold dot on the top of their screen. It can be moved or hidden. Less experienced users may be challenged to figure this out. Besides the online storage provided by Techsmith, users can save screencasts to Flickr, an FTP site, or to a file. Some will find this part of the setup to be challenging, which is common problem to all tools when files are being saved to the Web.
Other Issues and Comments:
An option to create a podcast with this tool would be an excellent addition. Also, it would be great if the online storage space provided by TechSmith could be set up as an RSS Feed so that people could subscribe to each others screencasts.