Online Tutorials in 30 Minutes or Less

Presented by Greg Notess

Given the rapidity with which websites and databases change, both in terms of format and content, any type of user instruction must be able to be created on the fly and FAST. Screencasting is an option for creating online tutorials that combine audio commentary and click-by-click demonstration. Notess’s presentation was chock full of helpful hints, and during the course of the 2.5 hour session, he created a handful of online tutorials, usually in about 10 minutes or less.

Online tutorials are perfect to house permanently on the library’s website as a way to augment text-based database/resource guides. They are also great for reference. Notess comments that he often will do a screencast for an email or IM patron who needs to see the complicated click path required to access a resource. He will take 5 minutes to create a quick step-by-step screencast, upload it to his blog, and then send the blog link to the patron.

Software used for screencasting includes Camtasia ($), Capitvate (an Adobe product; $$), and Wink (free, but with a lesser audio quality). To add audio commentary, one would need access to a USB mic (purchased for podcasting, of course!)

Like the podcasting/videocasting program, I found this postconference program to be extremely helpful as I was able to visualize the process—it looks a lot less intimidating than one would think! An immediate idea for our library: once we implement WebPac Pro’s interactive features such as patron comments and rankings, I plan to do an online tutorial to demonstrate how to use these features. Our staff has created text-based guides to using all of our databases; perhaps screencasting would be a more engaging, helpful form of instruction for these beasts? Of course, in an ideal world, which we all know this definitely is not, database vendors would create this content for their customers. Factiva, I'm talking to you.

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