Week two: Screencasting 101

It occurred to me as I was doing the readings that I really don’t have a lot of experience with screencasts in libraries. Actually, I’m not sure I’ve ever watched a screencast from a library (I’ve watched them on other topics, however). After completing these readings, I couldn’t help but think how useful online videos could be in a library setting.

Bowles-Terry, et. al’s article discussed the pros and cons of using online videos as well as their effectiveness in the area of instruction in libraries. The emphasis on both the usability and findability of the videos is important; if a user can use the video effectively, but not find it, then it’s no good; the same is true if a user can find the video, but it can’t effectively instruct on how to complete a task. The link to the videos on the University of Illinois’s library’s website no longer existed, but after digging around, I did find one. The summary at the end of the article brought up some of the concerns I had about the video, including the fact that I didn’t find the videos at all in one place. That could be the library has discontinued their use or they’re still having findability issues. The “inverted pyramid” technique also caught my eye; I’ve always been a supporter of the “inverted pyramid” technique when doing how-tos because I am that person that will skip over the context/introduction just to get to the instructional portion (shame on me, I know). I think the solution to that is a table of contents so that people are able to navigate to what they really want. Ultimately, I think that online videos might be useful in that they provide an efficient, fast, and convenient way for library users to find a how-to guide on how to do simple tasks. Sometimes, I found that public library users were almost embarrassed to ask for help on simple tasks like how to use the library catalog (even after being assured that they shouldn’t be embarrassed), and having an online video they can look at from home would solve that problem. I also believe that libraries need to offer their tutorials in more than one format; although a video is helpful, a step-by-step guide written out is also helpful because it allows people to go back-and-forth between steps without having to pause the video or back it up. Nothing annoys me more (well, perhaps there are a few things, but this is pretty annoying) than when I’m watching a screencast on how to do something technology-related, for example, and my computer lags and the video zooms past, which then requires me to try to back-up the video to the point I was at before. Printed-out instructions solve that problem and could be great complements to the videos.

Creating the One-stop Library Workshop discussed how best to construct one-stop workshops with a method called ADDIE. This interested me because the public library I used to work for hosted a fifty-minute technology workshop once a month; each month had a different topic (for example, Facebook, Kindle Fire, and Google+ were all topics). We didn’t, at the time I worked there, host workshops on how to do library-related business, like searching the catalog or doing ILL. The five ADDIE components  discussed consisted of analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation. Although ADDIE was used for workshops in the reading, it works for screencasts, too; first, you have to analyze who needs it and why, second you have to design the screencast (with the ideas from the paragraph up above), then third, you have to develop it (actually make the screencast), fourth you have to implement it by putting it up on the library’s website or inviting patrons to try it out, and then lastly, you have to evaluate the screencast to see if it worked. I think the ADDIE process is interesting because it has so many advantages: a template for later workshops (a massive timesaver), a way to train both old and new instructors, and having people’s input on the actual workshop or screencast itself. I also definitely see some of the concerns that were raised as well; it’s both time-constricting and financially difficult, and most libraries are short on both staff and money. Especially for something like technology that changes so often, taking four months to design a workshop wouldn’t be that effective because by the time you designed everything, the technology changes again. I suppose that by designing the workshop the goal is to be able to factor in tweaks made, but I’m not certain that a patron wants to wait an extremely long time for a workshop to be designed to be instructed in their new Kindle Fire. However, ADDIE is helpful for library business like searching the catalog because that generally doesn’t change too much too often, and if it does, the changes are usually minor (unless you’re switching OPACs completely). Choosing when and when not to use ADDIE is something libraries have to consider.

We’ll be creating our own screencasts very shortly, so it made me think of what I wanted to pull overall from these readings: first, the screencasts need to be short, sweet, and to the point. They don’t need to be flashy; they just need to be practical. The screencast should be short, so it wouldn’t be effective to have a screencast for a really complex topic; they would be more suitable to basic searches on catalogs, how to log-in to accounts, and how to place a hold. A table of contents is a huge advantage because it allows people to skip to what information they need quickly. (Do we wish they’d watch the whole video to get the proper context and introduction? Sure. But as a person that frequently skips anything that isn’t the actual instructional portion, we should attempt to design them with that in mind.) Although we’re not putting our screencasts on a big website, they also need to be easy to find; if a person has to search through the entire website to find the video, it isn’t that effective.

So who’s excited to start some screencasting?

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One thought on “Week two: Screencasting 101

  1. I know your perspective on the ADDIE workshop model. Having worked in both public and academic libraries now, I was trying to think of the kinds of workshops we did at the public library versus the kinds that I know we do at the MLibraries. I decided that the ADDIE model fit better with the library instruction classes that university libraries do for say, the freshman English classes. The public library I worked at did one-shot workshops on things like financial planning or starting small businesses, but generally only one person did those, and they were in charge of it, so the multiple staff, multiple times aspect wouldn’t be very useful.

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