For years I have been interested in how people present (both face-to-face and online) and how they use technology to deliver effective presentations. For instance, the following are a few things I have done over the years on this topic:
I got an email the other day from a colleague asking which was better — Jing or Camtasia? Then later that day, a faculty member stopped by and wanted to talk about whether she should upgrade from Jing to Camtasia. While I am more used to the question of Camtasia or Captivate, I figured I should probably get my thoughts down on this whole Jing vs. Camtasia question.
The fact that people are even asking this question shows how Jing has grown in popularity over the past year or two (see the Emerging Top 100 for how it has moved up over the past few years) and makes my heart warm. Why you ask? Well, I am a huge fan of Jing. Sure, I have been using Camtasia for years but I find myself the last year or two using Jing more day-to-day than Camtasia. So you might think that I would recommend Jing over Camtasia. Not so fast.
While I think Jing is a must-have tool for any educator, in many ways I find that Jing is the gate-way drug that leads most serious users to eventually purchase Camtasia. Why? Well there are certain things that Jing just can’t do that Camtasia can. But don’t get me wrong; the things Jing does, it does so well that often users like me (who have both) still find themselves using Jing more often than Camtasia. Let me explain.
Jing and Camtasia are two different applications from TechSmith. These two apps are typically used to create screencasts (though they each can be used for much more). And while there are many other applications you could use to create screencasts, Jing and Camtasia are my two favorite applications.
Jing (+ screencast.com)
Jing is a cross-platform “free” application (though you can upgrade to a pro account for extra features) that you can download at www.jingproject.com. The free version enables you to record up to 5 minute long screencasts. You can then save the screencasts to your computer or upload them to screencast.com to distribute. However, these screencasts (which are in a .flv format if you are using the free version) aren’t meant to be edited so you have to get it right the first time or re-record it. You can upgrade to a pro version of Jing for about $15 a year. With this, you essentially get three things:
1. A better video format (.mp4) that can be edited in an external application (though it is often easier to simply re-record than edit);
2. The ability to ftp your screencasts to your own server;
3. The ability to toggle back and forth to a Webcam during your screencasts.
So the bottom line is that if you are new to screencasting, or if your screencasts can be limited to 5 minutes, or if you don’t need to edit your screencasts then Jing might be all you need. For instance, in my day-to-day job of supporting faculty, Jing is perfect to create individual “How-to” screencasts for individual faculty. Jing is also perfect to do things like narrate mini-lectures (think less than 5 minute PowerPoint presentations). But if you want a more polished screencast that is longer than 5 minutes that will give you the option to zoom in and add call outs then you might want to invest in Camtasia.
While less compelling, it is important to note that Jing is also great at taking screenshots and annotating them.
For more on how to use Jing, watch the following screencast:
Camtasia on the other hand is kind of like Jing on steroids but it comes at price ($300+). But for that price, you get the ability to create screencasts that are longer than 5 minutes. You can also easily edit these screencasts (if you are using Camtasia Studio on a PC), add additional media, call outs, and effects, the ability to zoom in and out, and finally the ability to export the screencasts in a number of different formats. In addition, Camtasia integrates seamlessly with PowerPoint (to narrate PowerPoint presentations) as well as gives you the ability to add flash-based quizzes to your screencasts.
So where does this leave us? Well, I believe based on my experience that it is less a question of either or but rather a question of when do you use each one. I think most if not all Instructional Technologists need to have both tools in their toolbox. For day-to-day just-in-time support (whether for screen captures or for screencasts that can be less than 5 minutes long), Jing is quick, easy, and indispensable. However, there often comes a time when one needs to create longer, more polished screencasts that need to incorporate various media, and be edited. For these times, Camtasia is a must!
Do you agree or disagree? Did I cover all the main points? What did I miss?
I am a huge fan of SlideShare (www.slideshare.net) and other presentation hosting tools. If for no other reason, these tools allow me — I no longer print out copies of my slides to handout (which by the way I have argued elsewhere is never a good idea because we should instead be thinking about how we can hand out short, ideally, one page handouts). But these tools offer many other benefits:
–Makes one’s work available to a larger audience
–Gives one easy place to direct people to (e.g., go to www.slideshare.net/plowenthal to see my presentations…)
–Allows one the ability to track how many times their presentations have been viewed, added as a favorite, tweeted
–Allows one the ability to embed presentations across multiple web sites and learning management systems
–The ability to find others with similar interests
–Share one’s work with other educators
–Find open education resources for one’s class
And the list goes on. But I just noticed that you can also create playlists. So here is an example of a SlideShare playlist.
I am a strong believer in attending and presenting at conferences for professional development. Each year I try to attend the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) —http://www.aera.net/AnnualMeeting.htm — as well as the annual meeting of the Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT) — http://www.aect.org/events/.
So when I plan to attend a conference, I strive whenever possible to also present at the conference. Often, I will even try to present more than once.
Well this last fall I went a little overboard and during basically a three week stretch I presented 11 times at three different conferences (two of the presentations though involved two parts so it was actually only 9 different sessions). To be fair, when I originally completed the conference proposals, I never expected to have them all accepted. But through this process I learned a few things that I will take with me moving forward:
1. Never present more than 3 times — ideally strive for only 2 presentations — at a conference.
I enjoy attending sessions as much as I do presenting at sessions but I found that when I attend a conference where I present more than 2-3 times, I rarely attend that many sessions because I am spending most of my time preparing for my own sessions. Also, be prepared that they might accept any and all proposals you submit so think twice before sending in a bunch of different proposals. If you want to present 2-3 times, only send in 3-4 proposals (assuming at least one will not be approved).
2. Always bring business cards to each session.
3. Find the room you are planned to present in.
Checkout the room you plan to present in before your session to get an idea of the location, room size, layout, Internet access… to name a few. During EDUCAUSE 09 I spent over 30 minutes trying to locate the room where the poster sessions were being held. I barely found it in time to put up my poster before the session began.
4. Show Up Early.
Be sure to show up at the room earlier enough right before your session to ensure that such things as an LCD projector are there. At AECT, the hotel would remove the LCD projectors at the end of the day which meant that the first sessions each day often began with a rush to locate an LCD projector.
6. Determine the how many handouts you need.
Ask people who have presented in the past and/or the conference staff how many people typically attend each session so that you can have the right number of handouts. Most presentations, in my experience, tend to have 10-15 attendees. Therefore, you are often safe with 20-25 handouts. However, during my last three week conference stretch, I had one session with over 75 people in it and another with about 35.
7. Avoid traveling on a day you present.
This might be silly but try to avoid this if possible. At AECT this past fall I had to present on Halloween but I really wanted to get home in time to trick or treat with my kids. I carefully picked my flight to help make this all happen but guess what… my flight was delayed.
I am sure I am forgetting a few things but this list is a start.