Screencasting

The Implementation of Screencasting as a Training Method

Introduction           Report           Action Plan           Bibliography

 

Follow the steps below to find software and create training screencasts for your library or teaching environment.

STEP 1: DETERMINE SCREENCAST NEED


Each library’s situation is different. Review your existing information sources to determine where a need might be; consider those that experience a high patron use or that may be more complicated or generate more questions than others. A screencast may be useful not only for demonstrating the use of library catalogs and online databases, but also for software installation and demonstrations (Notess, 2005).

For the first screencast, start small. Consider a technology that could genuinely benefit from screencast training, but that will not overwhelm the trainer while learning the screencast software. Short yet informative videos tend to be more effective that long ones, due to varieties in memory retention and attention span (Kerns, 2007). Once the need is identified, move on to step two.

STEP 2: REVIEW EXISTING SCREENCASTS


Browse a few of the screencasts listed in the ‘Example Screencasts’ section of this report/action plan. Use a search engine to find additional screencasts for review. Watch these to get an idea of what works and what doesn’t. Identify those that best match your goals. If possible, determine which software was used to produce them. If an author/trainer’s name and contact information is provided, email them to get feedback about software, best practices, etc.

STEP 3: DETERMINE TECHNOLOGICAL CAPABILITIES


Research the software packages listed in the ‘Available Screencast Software’ section of this report/action plan. Use a search engine to find additional software to review. Carefully examine the system requirements of each to ensure that your operating system, platform, memory, and processing speed are adequate. Save yourself valuable time by checking first to see if the software will work on your machine before downloading software.

STEP 4: ACQUIRE TRIAL SOFTWARE


Once a workable application is found, download and install the trial version (or the full version, if freeware). Make sure this step is first approved by your information technology department, if necessary. Take note of how long the trial period lasts. A trial version will not benefit you if you fail to experiment with screencasts before the test period expires.

STEP 5: VIEW TUTORIAL/READ SOFTWARE INSTRUCTIONS


Many screencasting software packages come with a video tutorial which shows the procedures and highlights of the software. The tutorial contains valuable information and watching it can save time. It is also a good idea to read the initial instructions or help file. You may choose to jump in and start using the software right away without reading or watching anything; this may not cause any problems right away, but keep in mind you could be missing out on some helpful features that could be helpful in the future.

STEP 6: PRACTICE STEPS/MOUSECLICKS


Once you are familiar with the screencasting software, practice the mouseclicks/screen navigation that you will want to record. Navigate to the webpage or program you wish to record. Close all other unnecessary windows and programs. Do not leave any personal information or distractions on the screen, such as a desktop picture that you may not want patrons to view. A few moments’ practice and preparation can save a few hours in editing time.

STEP 7: EDIT SCREENCAST RECORDING


Once the initial recording is done, consider which extras you wish to add. Voice narration is popular; whether or not this feature is available depends on the software you have chosen. Most applications allow callouts, highlighting, or text bubbles to emphasize certain portions of the screen. If you have watched the tutorial or read the help file, these extras should be relatively painless to implement. They will also add a great deal to the clarity and helpfulness of your screencast.

STEP 8: SAVE AND TEST SCREENCAST


Once the screencast is edited, save it in the format most applicable to your situation. If video size is a concern, choose the most compressed file format available. Bear in mind this will likely affect the quality of the video. If size is not a concern, consider publishing as a Macromedia Flash file, which as noted previously is one of the more popular plug-ins out there.

Once saved, have a colleague (or two) test the screencast for clarity and helpfulness. Make sure you haven’t forgotten any important steps.

STEP 9: PUBLISH SCREENCAST


Make your screencast available. Publish Flash files on your library’s webpage or blog, upload video files to youtube, or use an alternative distribution method. Make sure that whatever method you choose, screencast playback is reliable and can be accessed easily by patrons at any time of day or night.

STEP 10: ASSESS USEFULNESS


Patrons may provide feedback on your creation without prompting. However, it is a good idea to develop some sort of assessment method to ensure your time and effort is having a beneficial effect (Kerns, 2007). Consider implementing short surveys or providing a feedback link at the end of your screencast. Not only will this help you constantly improve your screencasts, but will also help convince administrators that your time and effort is not being wasted.