Submitted by Athena Cairo
For the technology activity I decided to look at using Jing as a way to create short screencast SPSS tutorials for my Methods students to use. I found in class I was having to go over how to do basic tasks several times, so I thought it would be helpful in the future to have an external resource to point students toward instead of spending extra lab time going over how to use SPSS.
When you download Jing, the first thing that pops up is the option to watch a tutorial. I found this helpful, as the program itself is very minimalistic and does not have many explicit instructions, other than labels for your buttons.
Once you open Jing, a yellow sun icon moves to the top center of your browser. It fades slightly behind whatever you’re working on, which is also useful since you can activate it whenever you want to start a screencast or take a screenshot while it remains unobtrusive.
On the sun icon you have the options to start a new screencast, look at screencasts you’ve made, and change the general options for the program. If you opt to start a new screencast, it will open up another small toolbar at the bottom of your screen as well as a crosshair centered at your mouse pointer. You can use the crosshair to click and drag a box around whatever you want to capture. You can also click in the center of your screen to automatically capture the whole desktop screen.
Then, you choose whether to take a picture or video. If choosing a video, you can test your microphone volume before recording. Then, once you tell it to start, you can just begin recording and talk while you demonstrate the tutorial. After you finish making the video, the video/picture is also saved to your Jing account. You can immediately upload it to Screencast.com and generate a URL, but at this point I ran into difficulties because the videos wouldn’t upload automatically and create a URL. Instead, I had to go to my Screencast.com account and manually upload the files that had been saved to my computer.
One thing I found a little frustrating was that I couldn’t get the microphone tester to appear again after the first time I made a video- it only seems to appear once. After my first video, the sound was still way too low, so I ended up having to just keep making short sound clips to test the volume after that. It also would have been nice if there were some video editing capabilities—if I made a mistake while talking, I would have to go back and create a whole new video. However, apparently if you have access to Camtasia, or other movie editing software like IMovie, you might be able to use that to edit your video.
One thing that is important to remember is that after you have set up the viewing screen for what you want the screencast to capture, you can’t do anything on the browser behind the viewer until you hit Play, or disable the viewer. A few times I realized that I needed to re-do something in SPSS (like get rid of something in the output or windows), and I had to close Jing in order to do that since the browser was frozen.
The video quality of the finished product seems good. However, the screencasts require Flash to view, so videos might be difficult for people on iphones or ipads to view.
Overall I found Jing very easy to use, and I expect to keep using it as a quick tool for making videos, especially for short tutorials like working with statistical programs, library databases, or other programs. I would definitely recommend it to those of us who might want to give our students short tutorials on a program, or navigating a website, that we may not want to spend extra time in class revisiting.
Here are my videos:
Creating new variables in SPSS: http://www.screencast.com/t/8bhcBecdAG
Bivariate correlations in SPSS: http://www.screencast.com/t/fSqPlZ5vDd