Archive for the ‘Jing’ Category

How to Grade a Student Blog

tlda_blog_buttonLast semester I began using learning blogs as one of the assignments for Math for Elementary Teachers.  It was the first time I have ever used blogs as a graded student learning assessment, and I didn’t really know what to expect out of the students.  Would they all have created blogs before? [no]  Would they understand intuitively how to make hyperlinks, load in images, and embed videos? [no, no, and no] Would they write naturally in a conversational tone (in the style of most blogs)? [yes]  Would they make their blog posts two or three times a week (as directed) or would they cram them all in during the last couple days? [some of both]

Overall, I was thrilled with the results.  The students reflected on their learning, both in class and out of class.  They found and shared games, videos, articles, and vocabulary sites that they found on the web.  Some of them acted as a class reporter, summarizing what was covered in class each day (with their own personalities coming through).  Before you read the rest of this post, you might want to browse a few of their blogs to get an idea of the variety or writing and styles.

So let’s just say that this first time using blogs was a learning experience for both my students and for me.  I drafted a rubric for grading the blogs, and stuck to it all semester.  However, I realized that both the clarity of the assignment and the specificity of the rubric needed to be improved for “Round Two” (starting next week).

During the last round of blog grading, I revised my old rubric to try and tighten up the quality of the results.  Here are the specifics of the assignment now.

Set up a blog using Blogger or WordPress.  You should make at least six blog posts of at least two paragraphs each, using appropriate spelling and grammar.  The mathematics in your posts should be correct.  Blog posts should focus on what you have learned, what you’ve struggled with, or what you’ve found to help you learn.  Posts can discuss learning in class or out of class, but must relate to the current topics we are covering in the unit.  You should not refer to specific chapter or section numbers in your blog posts, and if you mention an activity from class, please use enough detail that a 3rd party reader would understand it.  Here are some specific details:

  • Blog posts should be spaced apart (not all at the last minute).
  • Your blog should include an appropriate  title (not just Maria’s Blog)
  • Your blog should include a profile (picture and brief bio). This can be fictional if need be.
  • Your blog should contain a “blogroll” with five of your favorite educational blogs.
  • Your blog should contain a list of tagged topics or categories.
  • Your blog should contain four images (or embedded videos) and should contain at least six links to web resources that you’ve found yourself.
  • Links to web resources should be properly “clickable” within the text of the post (not just a pasted URL).
  • Each post should be tagged with appropriate keywords.
  • You should make at least six comments on the blog posts of other students.

I think that the nature of the blog (what to write about) needs to stay as open as possible, but the fine detail of the assignments is difficult to assess if the quality of blogs varies wildly.   If you choose to try an assignment like this, I highly recommend a table-style rubric (like the one below) to keep track of where you are assigning points.

learn_via_blog_rubricI also found it helpful to use a screen-capture program (I used Jing and SnagIt) to make grading comments about specific blog posts (because, of course, you should not comment those in on a public blog site).

One last tip:  About halfway to the deadline, I give every student feedback on how they are doing so far.  I gently remind them about details that they might have forgotten so that they have time to correct or regroup.  I’ve found this results in immediate improvement in the blogs and is well worth the effort.  I use quick 1-3 minute Jing videos to give the feedback most of the time.

Note: You can see the rest of the learning projects and a “big picture” idea of how I fit all this in (timewise) by reading Transforming Math for Elementary Ed.

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Jing Refresher and Myths

Just in case you’re getting back into the swing of things this fall and finding yourself as forgetful as me, I thought I’d give a little Jing refresher here and remind you of some resources.

First, a little reminder of how Jing works!


Myth #1: I use Camtasia so I don’t need Jing

What about your students? Teach them to Jing and they can share screen captures and short videos with you!  Not enough motivation?  It’s much faster to whip out Jing and record a response to a student’s question than it is to create, edit, and produce a Camtasia video.

Myth #2: The 5-minute time limit is a problem.

No, the 5-minute time limit is a blessing.  Who really wants to watch more than 5 minutes of Internet video.  There’s great value in learning to get your message across in a concise little package.  When you ask students to submit videos to you for grading, you’ll quickly appreciate the 5-minute limit.  Plus, there’s nothing to stop you from recording a 3-part series if you really must get 15 minutes of information out there.

Myth #3: The EMBED button is gone!

The embed button is gone from the standard Jing installation, but you can get it back with about 2 minutes of time invested.   Use one minute to watch how to do it.  Use the second minute to do it yourself.

Myth #4: I’ve tried to use Jing, but I never get the image or video when it says my upload is complete.

The link (or embed code) for your captures is stored on the clipboard.  What’s the clipboard?  It’s that invisible place where content goes to wait between Copy and Paste.  What Jing does is create the copy of the URL or embed code on the clipboard.  All you need to do is paste (use Ctrl-V on a PC or Command-V on a Mac) and your code will appear!

Myth #5: Video EMBED doesn’t seem to work.

Many programs restrict the functionality of video embedding.  If your video takes up a large amount of screen real estate, or if video-sharing is disabled in the web-application you’re using, then you won’t be able to embed video.  You can, however, share the video with a live link.  It’s always good practice to include a live link even when you get the embed code for a video to work.  Many blog readers will cut out the embedded videos, and without a link, your reader will not be able to access the video.

Myth #6: Students will never figure it out.

Give them the links to videos on how to use Jing, a place to PRACTICE their newfound skills, and an incentive (2 points per skill seems to do it), and they will learn how to use Jing just fine.  One of my first assignments of the semester is a “Learning Project” that involves, among other things, practicing a bunch of different ways to use Jing (get handwriting to the discussion board, record a video and get it to the discussion board, get an image of some math equations you’ve written to the discussion board).

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Jing is here to stay!

For students to share handwritten work or equations online, there is one program that has changed my online classes more than any other, and that is a free program called Jing built by TechSmith.
However, when I show other instructors how to use Jing, the one concern that always arises is “what if Jing starts to cost something?”
My response has always been 1) TechSmith wouldn’t change the price (free) without significant notice, and 2) Jing will always be free for a certain amount of space.
Today, Techsmith announced that Jing is now an official offering and, to celebrate the 1-year birthday of Jing, they are increasing the amount of free space on Screencast from 200 MB to 2 GB. That’s right … 2 GB of storage space (and 2 GB of transfer bandwidth)!!!
This is really fantastic news – some of my students were hitting the 200 MB ceiling on this. So, whether it’s an existing account or a brand new Jing account, you should have a lot more space to save your screen captures and videos!

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How Do You Write Your Math in Online Classes?

(sing to the tune of How do you solve a problem like Maria?)

It climbs my screen and takes a place
on top of all the rest
Its usefulness is unsurpassed
Simplicity the best
And when you click the Capture
You will be most impressed
It makes a copy of everything you see.

When I began to contemplate
a Calculus online
I shuddered when I thought
of how to share the screen that’s mine
Everyone kept saying
Math can’t be done online
But then Techsmith released a litte project…

How do you write your math in online classes?
How do you share that graph that’s on your screen?
How do you answer questions in your classes?
The handwritten work! The embedding code! My Jing!

Many unanswered questions can be answered.
Many a solved equation can be shared.
Difficult visual concepts can be loaded
to the Internet with a
Simple URL.

Oh, how do you write your math in online classes?
You share what’s on your desktop using Jing.

Today I made several videos to help my students begin using Jing to share their math questions on the message boards in my summer online calculus classes.

Jing with MathType
Jing with WZ Grapher
Jing with Wolfram Demonstrations
Jing with Handwritten Work


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Public Service Announcement: Jing/Flash Player Issue

From the Jing Blog 1 hour ago:

Hiya, Due to a paucity of communication it appears that will require the latest Flash Player before it will play Jing videos. Most browsers seem to prompt you to update. It appears that some will not. And instead you will see…kind of nothing. You can google for ‘adobe flash player’ to find the latest. Or try “here.” If you update to the latest Flash Player, videos should play fine after that. Sorry about the hassle. We’ll see if there’s something we can do to remedy it. Feel free to use this space to rant and vent… have a good day.
Bill ‘this is not the kind of blog entries I wanted to start doing’ Scanlon

I did update my Flash Player weeks ago, so I didn’t run into this one, but I thought I’d warn you guys that are using Jing so that you can let your students know too.

You know what? It’s nice that some software companies will just tell you when there is a legitimate problem instead of subtly pawning off their problems on other software companies and refusing to fix them. (no names… but I’m sure you know some culprits)

Now, can someone tell me what the heck is going on with Java and Blackboard today???

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Blog Field Trip to Techsmith

Last Friday, I took a field trip to the TechSmith campus in Okemos, Michigan (near Lansing). Dave was a great tour guide and showed me all the facilities and introduced me around the offices. I met with the training team for a while and we brainstormed on strategies for how to get instructors who are scared of technology to participate in technology training so that they can use software like Jing, Camtasia, or SnagIt.

Then I had lunch with the whole TechSmith gang (they have a company lunch every Friday). After lunch, I was interviewed for the next TechSmith newsletter about how we, in math education, are using Camtasia and Jing. I stressed how important it is for educators to continue to use Jing in the classroom and that if there ever is a pricing change, how much we would appreciate it if that change happened not in the middle of a semester.

And finally, at the end of my visit, I got a sneak peak at the next TechSmith product (a spin-off product of Camtasia studio). I can’t say much about it here, but I can tell you that it will make it easier for instructors who are not technologically savvy to record their materials “live” as they are working in the classroom. Just trust me and schedule time to demo an “unknown TechSmith product” in your fall faculty development sessions.

I did pass along your suggestions to Techsmith. I must’ve mentioned the lack of superscripts and subscripts in SnagIt and Camtasia Flash Quizzes to everyone whom I was introduced to. The ideas for easy “pause” markings and question-asking during videos were well-received too.

You can tell that TechSmith is a fun place to work and everyone had an upbeat attitude even when talking about problems. They have a couple of “creative” work areas, which include a video game system, bowling pins, and a ping pong set up. Somehow the bowling pins are involved in a modified game of ping pong with ever-changing rules… but I don’t think I quite caught all of that.
I thought it was funny that almost every single TechSmith employee had at least dual monitors (if not dual monitors + multiple computers). I’ve been using dual monitors for almost 10 years now, but most people who walk into my office at school think it’s pretty strange. How does anyone function without two monitors… I have no idea!

I think I may have convinced TechSmith to show up at ICTCM and AMATYC this year … no promises, but it sounds like they will at least scout our math conferences for next year if they don’t make it this year.

I did pick up some TechSmith T-Shirts, pens, and highlighters, so I’ll be giving those away in a contest. If a “Take a Screenshot… It will last longer.” T-Shirt is a must-have for you, then keep an eye out for a future post about the contest.

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Students Using Jing

Well, it’s been a few weeks now since I originally posted about using Jing for help with math problems on message boards, and I do have a few students now regularly using Jing to help each other. Next semester, I plan to include Jing in my orientations, so that all the students feel comfortable with it.

They have just discovered that you can do voice-overs… for now, I thought I would share some of their “help” sessions with you…

Student A’s Jing (with the open office math editor and voice over)

Student B’s Jing (with MathType, just an image)

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Line Rider, in its infancy, had only one tool, the pen. With this tool, you drew your masterpiece curve (or piecewise curves), on which, the little hatted dude rides his sled. There were rules about the curves, when drawn left to right, the were riding curves, when drawn right to left, decoration… or something like that.

However, the new version of LineRider has multicolored pens, an eraser tool (woo hoo) and now with the addition of the magical Jing program… I can easily record and share my masterpiece with you. If you watch my masterpiece, keep in mind that I have just nicely demonstrated two types of discontinuities in my work… removable discontinuities (the little dude just glides over the hole) and jump discontinuities (the little dude leaps from one part of the curve to another).

LineRider can be an interesting and fun study in slopes for algebra students, asymptotes for pre-calculus students, and limits for calculus students.

However, the true works of art are the ones created and set to music like these classic LineRiders all available on YouTube: (turn on your sound)

These are good for a 5-minute break in class… you know… for those students that refuse to get out of their seats and stretch… they might as well be entertained! I have seriously assigned LineRider as an extra credit project, but it’s always been difficult to find a way to share the videos (until Jing).

This one is addicting… make sure you get your papers graded and your classes prepped for before you become consumed!

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WebAssign Graphing Tool (beta)

WebAssign is working on a new graphing tool where students could draw their graph and it would be automatically graded. This is available on their website on the “Coming Soon” page. There is also a version of the Pencil Pad (a drawing tool) on this page.

Although neither of these is available to use inside WebAssign right now, your students could use them right now for drawing graphs and diagrams if they just use the PrtScn button to create an image and save the image in some document. OR…they could use Jing to capture the image and then just send you the URL or use the URL on a message board.

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Jing in an online math chat

Since this little program has generated so much discussion today (mostly via email), I thought I’d share how I used Jing tonight in a Virtual Office Hour…

This is right from my live chat tonight in my calculus class (my response to this problem is to follow up the 12 or so student posts)… the “cut and paste” part is because URLs are not “live” in the chat room. Plus I don’t want them to get accidentally booted out of “chat.”

me: The problem is to find the values of a and b in order to make the piecewise function continuous. Here’s the function (cut and paste URL into separate browser window)

me: The only piece that you know for sure is the first one. Where is the problem value for the first piece?

student: at x=2 The first part is equal to x+2

me: so when x=2, what is y?

student: 4

me: So now, in the second function we know it has to go through the point (2,4) or it won’t be continuous.

me: So, using y=ax^2-bx+5, substitute x=2 and y=4. You should end up with an equation that still has a and b.

student: 4a-2b=-1.

me: Okay… now… the last two equations must also intersect at x=3. So we set these equal to each other and use x=3 because that’s where the last two pieces switch.

student: why is it that we use x=3?

me: because that is where the function jumps from one piece to another and the functions must be equal at their endpoints to be continuous.

student: okay

me: Now we solve the system of equations…

And that… is how you use Jing in a math chat! Each video took about 1 minute to upload… (but I’m on satellite high-speed internet, so probably it would be faster for most people with regular high-speed internet)

Please post your comments in the “comments” area (instead of in email) so that all readers can get the benefit.

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