This post was submitted to Lita (Library and Information Technology Association) for their blog just moments ago, if approved it will show up there as well.

Title of Conference Program: Casting a Wide Net: Using Screencasts to Reach and Teach Library Users

Taken at Chicago's Millennium Park

Taken at Chicago's Millennium Park

Speakers: Stephanie Rosenblatt, Eric Frierson, Carmen Kazakoff, Mick Jacobsen

Moderated by: Anne Houston

Date time place: Saturday July 11, 2009 from 
10:30am – 12:00pm
 at McCormick Place South, S105 a-d

Sponsor: Reference User Services Association, Machine Assisted Reference Section   (RUSA MARS)

The first speaker was Stephanie Rosenblatt Education Librarian, California State University, Fullerton.

  • once she had created her screencast (i.e. video) tutorials she began to wonder if her students were really learning. In the classroom she is interactive and uses various techniques to get her point across and yet it seemed like it was supposed to be okay that she only used one technique to get her point across in the video tutorial. She is looking for better pedagogical approaches to incorporate into the tutorials. She is still not sure how much learning they can support due to the medium.

Eric Frierson, Education and Political Science Librarian, University of Texas at Arlington

  • His focus was creating a sense of community through screencasts.
  • His University is using LibGuides for their subject guides and although they find them very useful they are still very wordy. He has created a You Tube video that he places prominently in the top left hand corner of the LibGuides that is a basic hello and encouragement to contact if they still have questions. He wants them to know there is a human being behind all of those links.
  • He is more interested in the placement of the screencasts than there construction.

Carmen Kazakoff-Lane, Head – Extension and Inter-Library Loans, Brandon University

  • She was representing the Animated Tutorial Sharing (ANTS) project and talking about their collaborative uses.
  • ANTS wants to collaborate across institutions by syndicating screencasts
  • They disseminate their information through a wiki
  • For better syndication they are now using with a channel called LION: Library Information Literacy Online Network “Participants in this project agree to make these episodes openly available for others to link to, embed, share, download, or edit, provided the appropriate credit is assigned to the author”-    They are using because it has better resolution than you-tube
  • From the LION site you can share to FaceBook, embed videos into your blog, course management system or LibGuide. Basically they want you to be able to put them anywhere you think your users will be. You get the code and you can put it where you’d like.
  • She recommended using embedr with this service you can take videos from any site such as You Tube, Vimeo or Daily Motion and embed them into a playlist that streams from their site into another for example a course management system.
  • She mentioned that in 2009 You Tube will be doing HD videos which may make them a more viable service for the videos that need better definition

Mick JacobsenSkokie Public Library

  • He had tips for better screencasts
  • Patrons only want to know about resources when they know it will answer their question. With that in mind you may want to put their question into the name of the screencast for example “how to get an A on your next research paper” or “how to answer your medical questions”.
  • Additionally he warns not to put jargon in your screencasts or titles. You want to answer their question in their language.
  • Make your screencasts more interesting by telling a story instead of just giving information, take them on a journey.
  • Understand that your screencast is not forever, our site and databases change and so will your videos.
  • Try to put screencasts at a patrons point of need for example, adding them into subject guides.
  • Two free screencasting tools he mentioned were: Jing which takes loading onto your computer and Screenjelly which does not need to be loaded on your computer but you do need a Twitter account.
  • Keep your screencasts short. Anything that is unnecessary should be out of the video.
  • Give the audience one way to get their answer not three. It is like giving directions to your house. If you need to convey three different ways then you need to make three different videos.
  • He noted to look up the screencasts at Westlake Porter Public Library , Orange County Library System, Nashville Public Library, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Pierce County Library System

Q&A Portion of the presentation

  • One presenter mentioned that in MERLOT there are screencasts that have learning objects added to them where people can for example manipulate things on a screen for citation correction or other ways to practice what they have learned.
  • One presenter brought out the Just DO IT philosophy. Just get something made and put it out there. Look at what others have done to help you but go ahead and make the world’s worst screen cast. That is better then nothing just get to learning.  Making = learning.
  • Evaluation of screencasts should not be forgotten. You can put a link at the end of the screencast that goes to a survey that allows you to find out what works and what doesn’t work.

I have become one of the resident experts on my campus for teaching Artstor an art image database. During the last year we have found Artstor to be very responsive to suggestions and we believe they have made great improvements to their product and its stability. I was dually impressed to find that they had created a series of tutorials that they were making available via You_Tube . For our website redesign I am not only linking to other vendor tutorials but I am also creating my own. Unfortunately, I am unable to use the tutorials that Artstor has created because they are not ADA compliant. Specifically, there is no form of closed captioning. Those who cannot hear the video can not get the full value of the tutorial. 

My campus has a significant number of deaf students and we are keenly aware of the need to make all of our services compliant to ADA standards but really we should all be doing it anyway. for a video tutorial (aka screencast) it is imperative that some type of captioning that has every word being spoken is made available on the screen. I mentioned to an Artstor trainer that came to our campus that I was dissappointed with the oversight and she said she would take the suggestion back to her people. I hope they are as responsive with this request as they have been to others.

Not that one needs to be hearing impaired to need closed captioning. I have found myself on the reference desk many a slow evening watching closed captioned videos because I am not able to put on a headset while I wait for students to use our personalized reference services. I am certain there are many other examples that one can come up with that would make closed captioning necessary for those who have perfectly able audible abilities.
Consequently, I am saddened by those, such as Artstor, who do fine work but forget about the entirety of their audience. I see many of my colleagues who make online tutorial screencasts do the same, there should be a law…wait, there is. And what about those who are simply in the business of making good stuff for the rest of us like the people at Common Craft who make the exceptional Plain English videos if you don’t know them you really should check them out…assuming you are not hearing impaired.  

At first glance one might wonder how a non hands-on session about screencasting could be worthwhile. The key is to already know the software. My goal at this session was to get tips, tricks and pitfalls that the presenter, Greg Notess, and my fellow attendees had to offer. My next big project is to create library orientation screencasts and I’d rather be reminded what practices have (and have not) proven useful before I reinvent the stumble. Here are some basics from the 3 hour session:

To Script Or Not To Script? This seems to be a personal question. If you read a full script you may sound awkward as you drone on word for word. However, if you get nervous with the extemporaneous or are just bad at the oratorial riff that may be the technique you should stick with. We found that many in the room were partial to writing an outline and getting into their teaching groove as they did a live screen capture of their mouse movements. Why even use an outline? This is to keep you on track. The tutorial needs to be no more than 5 minutes long and many of us, when given the opportunity, will get into more detail than might be necessary. During that 5 minutes only 2-3 topics should be covered. If you want to go over more make more tutorials and link them with a table of contents so the viewer can choose what they want to watch.

ADA compliance– This was generally thought to be difficult. Screencasting programs like Camtasia and Captivate are giving the viewer the opportunity to choose if the closed captioning is seen or not but to see it one needs to write it out and put it in the screencast. For some this is the longest part of post production due to the after-scripting and setting the captioning into place. However, it can be done and will allow you to be ADA compliant. There was also some question regarding screen readers which are used for those who are visually impaired. No one in the room truly knew the answer due to screencasting being a visual media we did not know if it was possible to be compliant in that regard.