The Joys of Jing!

According to Liz (our system administrator), everything good comes from Lifehacker.com...and that is where she found Jing (http://www.jingproject.com/).  As the Web site says, "Use Jing to capture anything you see on your computer screen and share it instantly...as an image or short movie."   You'll need to set up a free (limited use) account, which allows you to post stuff to screencast.com for sharing, or you can save the shockwave videos and .png screen captures to your computer.  Note - you may need to save the .png files as .jpeg for use on some Web browsers and make sure your intended audience has the necessary flash and shockwave plugins.  You can upgrade to the Pro version for $14.95 a year.   The free version has enough features to get you started.
After several of us in the office downloaded it and started playing with it, the light bulbs went off and we knew this was a winner.  I immediately started creating videos to explain the cumbersome process of running reports in Koha, for example this one on creating monthly circulation reports (http://www.nexpresslibrary.org/monthly-circulation-stats-video/).  Later that month at the 2009 Kansas Unconference, Liz and I demonstrated Jing during a lightning round and heard from an academic librarian who uses quick and dirty Jing videos to answer reference questions.  Since discovering this little piece of software heaven, we have made video tours of the NExpress Shared catalog for patrons (http://www.nexpresslibrary.org/new-opac-videos/) and training materials for a Koha search module (http://www.nexpresslibrary.org/staff-client-advanced-search/) I prepared - the trainees watched the videos before I arrived for formal training, as an introduction to the material. 

Jing use has grown to include other online projects, specifically the statewide WordPress project (www.mykansaslibrary.org).  Liz started making videos on how to add a bestseller list to a site via RSS (http://www.mykansaslibrary.org/2009/add-the-ny-times-bestseller-lists-to-your-site-via-rss/) and working with the theme editor to "comment out" bits and pieces of a Web site's theme (http://www.mykansaslibrary.org/2009/working-with-the-theme-editor/).  Not only are the videos easy to make, they're short enough to keep the message concise and (hopefully) easier to understand.  In some cases the video is the only training material and in other cases, it's an introduction, supplemented with written (abbreviated) step-by-step instructions.  It just depends on the audience, the intention and how much time we have!

Jing's screen capture capabilities are also worth mentioning.  After selecting and grabbing the portion of the screen you want, you can then annotate it with arrows, text boxes, frames and highlighting before saving the altered image.  I leave Jing running in the background, so when the need arises for a screen shot, I'm ready.

As with any new toy, I mean, piece of software, it gets easier to use with practice.  We've learned a few lessons that I thought I'd share:

    •    Use a headset with a mic and keep the mic low enough that you don't hiss all your s's (like I do).
    •    When the mouse pointer is not being used, pull it off to the side so it doesn't block whatever it is you are typing or explaining on screen.
    •    Use Jing videos when traditional training materials would quickly be outdated (in the case of Koha where the interface seems to change monthly, the videos are easier to update than a powerpoint presentation)
    •    When using an alt-menu (right click), be sure to explain this in the narrative or find a way to not use it (File > copy instead of Ctrl+c, for example)

What about you?  What tips and tricks do you have to share??

- Sharon Moreland, Technology Consultant - Northeast Kansas Library System