TechSmith's Jing: A Must for any Staff Developer and Teachers in general
Google Certified Teacher Group that GCT's would be receiving free licenses to many of TechSmith's popular products. At ETHS, I am fortunate enough to have access to much of their software collection already, but even before Camtasia fell into my hands, I was using Jing (for free) for quick and easy video screen casts that our teachers might find useful.
"How do I add a printer to my computer?"
I would often get the above question sent to me via email. Although I could prepare a PDF handout or have a canned response email response at the ready, I found that some questions are better answered with visuals, and specifically with moving visuals. Thus, I made a quick screen cast showing how to add a printer using Jing, a free download from TechSmith. Keeping this video online at screencast.com, I was then able to simply email a link to my colleagues, and they would follow up with any additional questions.
Yellow orb of goodness
Jing resides on the side of your screen (can be hidden as well), and is easily accessed by clicking a a yellow orb or a capture hotkey. You can quickly begin recording a web cast, including video with a click of a button. Although editing features are not included, short videos (2-3 minutes is about all that anyone can take for a tutorial anyways) are easily re-captured if necessary. Once recorded, the file can be stored locally or on screencast.com, and all you have to do is copy/paste, embed, or share the link. One of the orb's options is to explore your video screen cast history, so it's here where you will find videos of the past.
It's a two or even three way street
Aside from the obvious use for staff developers such as myself, teachers may find screen casts useful for preparing demonstrations for their students. If you want to show your class how to navigate a website, sign up for an Animoto account, or solve an AP Calculus problem, just click on the yellow orb, and you're ready to record. Since you can copy/paste links to your finished products, you can easily set up a library full of tutorials.
Students will also find use for creating screen casts. Perhaps, a homework assignment involves demonstrating something online, recording a presentation, or explaining a website project. The ability to quickly record both screen captures, mouse movements, and audio (through a microphone) opens up a lot of possibilities. As more 1:1 classrooms become the norm or in the case of our netbooks/literacy initiative, students have access to machines with built-in video cameras as well as microphones. Recording and more importantly, sharing their work soon becomes the norm and not just a 'special' project. All of the above features are included with the free version of Jing, with a $15/year Pro subscription adding more functionality including YouTube uploading, using your webcam, and mpeg-4 recording.