Screencasting Triumph

I attended an American Association of Law Libraries webinar on screencasting and podcasting this week. I heard about this session via Slaw and decided to attend to see if this tech would fit in nicely with our current Intranet offerings.

Kerry Fitz-Gerald, Reference Librarian, Seattle University School of Law Library and Rita Kaiser, Reference Services Librarian, King County Law Library educated and inspired me. The session was just over an hour, and due to my longitunal location ran from 11 a.m. to 12ish.

I was so inspired, I bought a headset with a mic at lunch, and proceeded to avoid the November budgeting process for my library by creating a my first ever screencast. The 3.5 minute video I made with with CamStudio shows our internal process for gathering a case from WestlaweCarswell and downloading it. The target audience are legal assistants who have just been issued passwords for WeC.

My hope is that offering up this canned process will encourage users to look to our Intranet for those how-to bits in the moment when they need something. I plan to measure the statistics on views of the video to see if there is a diminishing rate of return on my 2 hour investment of creating it. With luck, the metrics will show that investing time and energy into creating screen casts in our environment is:

  • viable – the technology piece does not create a bunch of calls to our helpdesk on using the video format
  • efficient – the learning objective for training staff to download cases from a service they haven’t used before is met
  • sustainable – we can overcome barriers to creating these pieces and offer other objects using this tech
  • cost effective – using the free software piece and the support of our wonderful IT group gives us a professional product to deliver

More info?
An overview of screencasting from Wikipedia.
Rita has posted a great bibliography for How to Train Without Showing Up.
A video is available on using CamStudio.

So, as a credit card commercial might state:
$35 for a training session
$41 for a mic
not a lot for an couple hours of my time to create something I would have to teach 100 people
= Priceless

Comments

  1. Nice–thanks so much for sharing what you learned! I hope others are equally inspired. Can’t wait to try it myself. :-)

  2. Shaunna, how large was the file you created for the screencast, and how much of a burden does it create for your system? Bandwidth seems to be a concern here, and if CamStudio yields good quality “shows” with low bandwidth, it may be worth exploring. I’ve been playing with SnagIt for the past year or so, and if I keep the demos short enough, it doesn’t seem to strain my relations with IT. (grin)

  3. The file is ‘only’ 58 MB with a run time of 3:19
    My IT group is happy with running it through our Intranet. Bandwidth use was a concern for me, but my group has no problem with files like these running internally.

    Interestingly, the best result for smallest file size and best quality audio was achived by recording with my personal laptop which has a decent speed of processor.

  4. Shaunna, I did a newer list of resources, which as a participant in the seminar you should receive via email. The one you link to here is an older version of the resource list. Screencasts do not take too much space on a web site as they are usually published as flash objects.

  5. Gabriel Rodriguez

    Hi there, Just dropping in on the conversation and saw that Shaunna Mireau has this comment: The file is ‘only’ 58 MB with a run time of 3:19.

    I know of a great alternative to CamStudio that I use and the file sizes are reasonable.

    http://utipu.com – It’s Free!

  6. Shaunna, I also use utipu – it is much easier to learn than camstudio. You could cut your training cost out of the budget that you mentioned. A 3 minute video seems to have a file size of only 6 MB , which is a big improvement from the 58 MB you refer to.