Screencasting: Easy Online Tutorials

Paul R. Pival, Public Services Systems Librarian at the University of Calgary gave a relaxed rundown of web-based and client tools for creating online screencasts, which can be used for tutorials on-the-fly (think chat refrerence) or embedded in a web site or blog. The audience was mixed in their  of experience, and that led to some lively questions and answers..

The bottom line: practice the library law that states, “Save the time of your user.” Screencasts are ideal for those situations you need to explain over and over, they are available 24/7 if embedded, and can be put up quickly on YouTube (recommended) or other sharing sites like Blip.tv. They can also be tagged, commented and shared (or borrowed, if you find a good one that works for your library.)

Free tools that impressed me: Jing (can be annotated), Screenr (tweet or delete); Screencast-o-Matic and Screen Jelly (no downloads.) Hulu allows you to save flash videos and do stuff with them.

SnapZ Pro was suggested from the audience, but offers no post-production editing.

Paul recommend we use YouTube as our video host; HD or HQ files are bigger but have better resolution.

Camtasia Studio is the cadillac and comes w/ 30 day free trial.  It can import other videos for editing. Shows when the mic is recording and can recognize your webcam so you can introduce yourself before recording the demo. Can record audio afterwards, and the latest version can separate audio and video and edit one or the other separately.

It is important to have a good microphone; USB recommended over analog, and Logitech makes a decent one for about $30.

Scripts: do several dry runs, identify  the main points, then record. Don’t worry about perfection, because most students are willing to get the points quickly – you can edit later, if needed. If you read from a script, be careful about extra sounds like page turns.

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