First screencast

One of the things you do at Immersion is prepare and present a 5-minute teaching segment; this is where you work on all the “public speaking” aspects of teaching: vocal projection, filler words, hand gestures, etc.

My 5-minute segment was a quick set piece about how the “Find Text” (OpenURL resolver) links in our databases work.  It went over well, and I was pleased with it, but my fellow cohort members mentioned that since it was such a set piece, totally the same in every class I used it in, and didn’t need to be customized to the particular disciplinary context, perhaps a more efficient strategy would be to do a screencast that covered the same content.

So, that’s what I did.  After a semester of waffling and considering options, we got a license for Camtasia last week, I watched a bunch of tutorials on how to use it, and eventually produced this (which unfortunately is too wide for this blog, but I think the embed works anyway):

I’m quite pleased with the results!


  1. Posted December 18, 2009 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    Nicely done. I don’t like screencasts, myself, in a general way, but this one is clear and straightforward, and seems to get at the specifics of y’all’s library and situation.

    Still, I question the efficiency. I mean, yes, good to have the screencast, but is it really going to relieve you of having to include it in your classes? Since, after all, there is a tremendous advantage to having a person in the front of the room (or pacing around the room) with the students. I’m curious how this will work out.

    We actually just ditched our old screencasts in favor of bullet-point and screenshot tutorials (we had to ditch the old ones anyway, since they were no longer accurate), and the feeling at reference seemed to be that they should be set up, not as instructional, but as a reference for looking up something a student had seen but forgotten the details of. Mostly because students who hadn’t had in-the-room introduction wouldn’t click on the tutorial at all…


  2. Posted December 18, 2009 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    Nice job! You do a good job of clearly explaining the options. One small suggestion: before recording, you might want to hide your bookmarks toolbar in your browser (which will make the screen less busy).

  3. Catherine
    Posted December 18, 2009 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    Stephen: thanks for that tip! I did everything I could think of to clean up my screen, prevent distracting popups, etc., but obvious missed that one. (And now everyone can see how ubiquitous Twitter and FriendFeed are in my browser, yay!)

    Vardibidian: I’m not sure about the efficiency either. I figure I’ll experiment with showing it in class and see how it goes. I’m not really a fan of “and now let’s watch a video that explains this process” as a pedagogical method, but this is a case where having examples that actually work (hard to come up with on the fly in class) might be much more effective than a bunch of handwaving from me, accompanied by “and if we had it online, you’d see a message that says this…”

    We also have a bullet-point and screenshot tutorial, but I’ve never been convinced that it’s very effective. It’d be interesting to find out from students which they were more inclined to do: watch a video, or read a tutorial.

  4. Jessica Hagman
    Posted December 21, 2009 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    Your screencast looks great, especially for a first try. It seems like it should get the point across very clearly.

    If you wanted to make the embed fit in the width of your blog, you can usually just change the object or embed code. I’ve got a post-it on the side of monitor for all the different places our videos go to make sure they fit, otherwise it drives me crazy. Or perhaps you knew that already and just aren’t as easily annoyed by small things as me. 🙂

    Your first poster brings up a good point about the usefulness of such videos. We have a bunch of videos that I really view as more of reference service. I find them especially useful for answering the questions we see all the time, like how to find books for class, requesting books through our consortium, etc. We know people have questions about these topics and suspect that many would rather watch a video than have to ask a librarian. Now we’re just figuring out how to let students know about them.