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Posts Tagged ‘screencasts’

The spring 2012 semester has begun, but it will be a few weeks before I get really busy with teaching and consultations. So I’m going to try to squeeze in one more new screencast before then on the topic of “benchmarking private company and start-up financials” using BizMiner, RMA, and the Economic Census [now finished]. But I’m also finishing getting caught up on professional reading after the busy fall semester.

The 2011 BRASS Publisher’s Forum from ALA Summer is now online. BizMiner, Business Decision, InfoGroup (ReferenceUSA), and SimplyMap all had a turn at the mic; the question & answer session was recorded too. I like how BRASS asked the vendors to illustrate their wares through entrepreneurial case studies. Even if you don’t have all these databases, it’s useful to see the research strategies employed.

This week I also read a number of ACRL conference presentations from last spring. (A good thing this conference is only biennial, or else I would never get caught up!) The four programs that I spent the most time reviewing included:

New Metrics of Engagement for Academic Libraries
“Expand your understanding of the measures that libraries can employ that demonstrate greater integration into research, teaching, and learning.” (PDF 1, PDF 2)
From Craig Gibson and Christopher Dixon of George Mason University

Show me the Data! Partnering with Instructors to Teach Data Literacy
“Trends for how teaching faculty are using data in their instruction, the nature of the support requested from library, as well as plans for developing and assessing services that increase students’ data literacy.” (PDF 1, PDF 2)
From Karen Hogenboom, Merinda Hensley, and Carissa Holler Phillips of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

A Declaration of Embeddedness: Instructional Synergies and Sustaining Practices in LMS Embedded Librarianship
(LMS = learning management system) “Presenters will share tested, sustaining practices that enable even a small staff to collaborate with faculty, embed in their courses, and reach students.” (PDF)
From John Burke and Beth Tumbleson of Miami University Middletown

And the fourth program was:

Do Screencasts Really Work? Assessing Student Learning through Instructional Screencasts
“The presentation will introduce a potential model for assessment [of screencasts], and will also include an analysis of challenges that were overcome and share the best practices identified as a result of the assessment.” (PDF 1, PDF 2, PPTX)
From Jo Angela Oehrli, Amanda Peters, and Julie Piacentine, of the University of Michigan (my alma mater, Go Blue!)

So having just created some screencasts on business sources and strategies, I was particularly interested to read the U of M librarians’ assessment findings and suggested best practices. They tested two videos: Why Use Library Databases? and Finding Library Databases. Both videos are intentionally brief and targeted for new students.

Fifteen students (who had not been in a library workshop before) participated in a task-based usability study using eyeball heat-mapping software. The students tried to perform tasks involving finding a database, then watched a video about that task, and tried the task again. For the first task, the pre-video success rate was 13%; the post-video success rate was 100%. The other tasks showed similar improvements in results. The librarians concluded that “screencasts can indeed work when they incorporate instructional design principles and feedback from librarians, education specialists, and, most importantly, students who can benefit from this new technology.”

The Michigan movie makers suggested three best practices:

  1. Keep it short. One concept? Then two minutes max. (And most of their other videos are indeed 2-3 minutes long).
  2. “Create context and frame concepts in manageable chunks.”
  3. “If the video is for beginner researchers, take more time for scripting and editing.” (I would have liked to learn more about their script rewrites and editing decisions.)

So good job, Michigan librarians, and thank you for sharing with us.

My turn

My new screencasts are different from the UM examples in a few ways:

  1. The focus is on quite specific and sometimes complicated types of research.
  2. They are, well, umm, considerably longer. My economic data video, which surveys five numeric databases, topped out at 11 minutes. Yikes. Maybe next summer I’ll chop the big ones into a series of smaller videos.
  3. The videos follow Chad Boeninger’s excellent example of promoting public service and the liaison, as I wrote about last time. [Update: see the comments below for a link to Chad’s how-to guide]

Screenshot of the market data videoRegarding the length of the economic data video, I could have covered each database in a separate video, but then I couldn’t really make comparisons and establish linkages between the data. And viewers would have to make the effort to find all five videos. Following a good Chad example once again, I’m using thumbnails to make linking to the videos compact yet visual, but I don’t want to have a bunch of thumbnails on top of a page like http://uncg.libguides.com/eco. But still, I hope future videos are more focused and therefore shorter. We’ll see how long “benchmarking private company and start-up financials” ends up. (I plan on discussing how the benchmark data is created; that will take a minute or two.) Future videos for a class project (ex. “How to identify private company competitors for MKT 429”) will certainly be shorter.

So let me try to write my own best practices for screencasting as a liaison:

  • Upload to YouTube (as Chad and the UM do) for easy embedding and for cross-platform viewability.
  • Balance a rough script and planned searches with a friendly, conversational tone, as you would in a classroom.
  • Emphasize human support with video introductions, and don’t be afraid to make it personal. Drop the names of professors, departments, or core research classes that students might recognize.
  • Don’t zoom in or out too quickly.
  • Use segments for each major step in the video. That way, for example, if your library homepage has a redesign, you only need to replace a 20 second segment showing the navigation path to your featured resource. Otherwise you would have to slice apart a longer segment, assuming there is natural pause in the audio where you need it.
  • If possible, add comments, URLs, call outs, highlights, etc. Camtasia makes this easy. But don’t get too carried away (especially tempting at first, as I learned!)
  • Provide your name and contact information in a slide. Remember that viewers can pause the video whenever they want to make notes.

Future work

I mentioned making class-specific videos.

Two MBA students have agreed to let me film them talking about how useful certain library databases have been to them for specific projects. I’m looking forward to providing a peer-testimonial video like that and hope it proves effective with other MBA students.

My market reports video begins with a discussion and examples of how expensive business research can be. That segment was inspired in part by a narrated presentation Hyun-Duck Chung created when she worked at NCSU. I might flesh that topic out to address the “socio-economic issues surrounding information” ACRL info lit goals (and further promote the value of library business databases).

And I’ll try to get some feedback, even if anecdotal, on the existing videos. I would love to hear what other liaisons are doing with subject-specific screencasts.

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