Two useful tools for media on blogs

I don’t normally blog on tools, but having just being introduced to two that I’ve found very useful, I thought I would share my experience (invading Profhacker territory). Both these came up while experimenting with a blogsite.

The first thing I’ll be shouting about is a screen-cast tool. It occurred to me that a good way to introduce users to the blog – how to navigate the blog, how specific features work, or how links might be used – would be to put a screen cast in there. I first tried using QuickTime player but ended up with a huge file and in a format that my basic free WordPress package couldn’t upload. Luckily a colleague mentioned Jing. This is a really easy to use tool that allows you to record screencasts with audio commentary: when you open it a sun-like icon sits in the upper-right-hand corner of your screen. The downside with Jing is that the maximum record time is 5 minutes (though there’s a handy countdown timer for you). In practice, however, this is a positive since it limits your screencast to the essential point and to a specific task: reactions to them have been good. But the really big advantage is that your site does not have to host the file. Jing uploads your recording to the URL to your screencast can then be simply embedded in your site.

The problem with my blog coping (or not) with complex files came up again when I wanted to upload an audio recording of a lecture. Having recorded it on Garageband, the resultant file was – you guessed it – huge, and in a format once again that my WordPress package could not upload. The answer to the problem lay in another sharing-type tool. SoundCloud seems primarily intended for musicians to upload and share music, but (again thanks to a colleague for pointing this out) it was useful for sharing any audio files, including lectures. You can record direct to SoundCloud, but having already recorded my lecture I wasn’t about to do it over again, so SoundCloud also allowed me to upload my audio file.  The result was a URL to my audio file that I then embedded in my blog.

Of course, more sophisticated blog packages might be the way forward, but for the moment these cloud-based sharing services are easy-to-use and attractive options for hosting more complex media.


4 thoughts on “Two useful tools for media on blogs

  1. After my frustration with the five minute limit of Jing, I have switched to Screencastomatic, which allows for up to 20 minutes of recording and the option to use captions, an important feature for my work. Thanks for your blog!


  2. Many of my colleagues use Jing for grading and responding to papers. I’ve so far resisted doing so simply because I want to give written comments as a way of modeling various issues related to writing.


    1. That’s interesting and I hadn’t heard of that: there’s a certianly an increasing pressure here in the UK to use more onl;ine feedback. I see what you mean with modeling writing skills, I’d be more concerned with the 5 minute limit!


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