Online Tutorial Assignment

During my undergaduate time working at the Merrill-Cazier library at Utah State University, one of the librarians had me help develop a screen cast to show patrons how to find articles or request them through interlibrary loan.  I hadn’t seen a screen cast before, and instantly found the idea wonderful and completely applicable to library instruction, moreso than any other instruction feature (except for in-person, one-on-one training, of course).  The combination of audio and video information, presented in such a simple format with merely the computer screen showing is such a direct method that is also easily adaptable and simple to use.  I feel that these reasons make it one of the more effective tools librarians have today.

Based on my experience so far, there are many free programs available online that help users develop screen casts.  In class, we were shown Jing, which is available for free but also is available in a cost-version with more features.  With the program, I’ve been able to create a couple of screen casts of my own.  Once a screen cast has been created, the user has the option of directing other users to it with a URL, an embedded link, or the actual screen cast embeded in a webpage.  Because of the simplicity of the program and the screen casts, typically the best method to share them are by embedding the actual video on a page, however its important to keep the graphics in the screen casts simple (the free version doesn’t like videos with a lot of graphic movemnts).

Because technology has become such a central part of our lives today, the information libraries present should be streamlined to fit into this digital world.  For this same reason I love seeing libraries use technologies like screen casts and instant messaging.  And screen casts are effective for practically every type of audience for a couple of reasons.  First, they’re adaptable.  It’s easy to create the same screen cast in multiple languages, or update screen casts when the information they contain is outdated.  Second, they are simple to use.  When embedded in a page, the user simply clicks the play button and the video starts right off.  This simplicity makes screen casts effective and efficient.  And by streamlining them into the library’s webpages, they attract the attention of the patrons.

For this assignment, I use an example of a screen cast showing patrons how to renew their materials online.  The screen cast could be embedded in a frequently-asked section, in the circulation department’s home page, or in the library’s help pages.  The video will begin by showing the library’s home page, highlighting the URL in case they don’t know how to get there,  and directing patrons to the link that will take them to IUCat.  In the next screen, the video will highlight the link that says “Log in for Request Delivery and off-campus access to resources” and direct them to click that link.  Then the video will direct the users to click the login icon and sign into their accounts using their username and passphrase (to maintain security and anonymity, it would be wise to create an account that isn’t attached to an actual person).  They would then be guided to the “My Account” link where they could either review their account or renew the materials they have checked out.  After showing them how to actually renew their books, it would be important to show them where the new due-date is given, and then remind them to log out of their accounts when they are finished.  And that would be the end of my screen cast.

Example:
http://www.screencast.com/t/MKwIWeP74
I’m still trying to figure out a couple of things, like how to make it not so darned big, but I do like Jing. It’ll be fun to play with it some more.

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