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Screencasts: quick tutorials for the career college librarian

November 1, 2011

How much time do you have in a given week to offer training and workshops to your users?  I’m betting not much.  In fact some of you might even be full-time faculty and this “running the library” thing is just a side gig at your little career college library.  Yet most academic libraries offer some training for their users.  If you are a one man (or woman) show and are only in the library 20 hours a week you aren’t going to have a lot of time to do this.  What do you do???  Well obviously you use some great bit of technology to help you work smarter!  Three guesses as to what it is – yep, the screencast

I have found that many people run for the hills when you start talking about a new piece of technology but librarians should start embracing the change.  The right piece of technology can make your life easier.  Besides, who doesn’t want a new skill to add to the old resume.  So screencasts, here we go.

Screencasts are small video files that allow you to capture the action on your screen.  Watch any YouTube video that is a tutorial to get something done on a computer and you are probably watching a screencast.  Here’s an example of one I created just a little bit ago.  As with anything else on the computer there are innumerable ways of doing this.  If this is your first time I recommend Jing.  While not the most sophisticated, it is super easy to use and almost impossible to mess up. 

A few things to keep in mind when creating a screencast.

1.  Who’s the audience?
2.  What’s the goal?
3.  Where is the video going to “live” online?
4.  Why are you doing it?

Number 4 is probably the most important.  While I love technology and think that most people (myself included) are under utilizing it you can’t just use technology for technology’s sake.  It’s like the action adventure film that has no plot but a ton of great effects; so what?  Once you figure out why you need to make the screencast the “who” and the “what” are extremely easy to answer. 

The next big thing to ask yourself is where the video is going to live.  Who’s going to house it for you online?  Does your career college have a place for that?  Do you want a YouTube channel?  Jing has an advantage (and other programs might too) of posting your videos onto Screencast.com for free.  Wherever you decide, it needs to be easily accessible to your intended audience.  And really – that’s about the gist of it.

The are other things to consider for those who are really into something high quality.  Jing is a basic program and there are many more; Camtasia, CamStudio, Snagit, etc.  You could also spend time looking at high quality mics. and locations.  For the down and dirty version though this is really all you need to get started playing with it.

Have you had success using screencasts in the past?  What worked, what didn’t?  What programs do you know about that I left out?  Leave me some feedback and please share with your colleagues.

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