Using screencasts in Information Literacy
Posted by andrewey on August 14, 2008
There seems to be a great deal of scope for video material to be used to support the delivery of information literacy/skills within FE – as a backup to face-to-face support/sessions. As noted in an earlier post, there is little on YouTube on information literacy. The time commitment involved in producing videos has meant that we were only actively considering making an induction video. However, in looking at the development of Web 2.0 tools I have come across a quick and simple means of producing information literacy videos (relating to the use of online resources) – screencasts. This medium is already widely used – and there are examples of FE library services using it eg Carnegie College (Dunfermline).
In essence this involves the use of screencapture or screenshots to create a video. This can be done far cheaper, simpler and quicker than producing a film. This method still allows for the addition of an audio track (although this is not essential) but does not require any filming as such. This can result in fairly sophisticated videos being produced using screen capture or using screenshots as stop frame animation. In their simplest form the videos are akin to an automated Powerpoint presentation with an audio commentary.
Although sophisticated packages are available to capture images of keystrokes and produce professional looking videos I’ve been using the Microsoft Movie Maker software which is bundled free with Windows XP and Vista. The software is very simple to use – I’d made my first video within an hour of opening the software. The version with Vista does seem to produce better quality videos and includes more features (such as the ability to zoom in on an image).
For the screenshots I used Paint Shop Pro simply so that I could capture parts of the screen and save the images in a variety of file types (png seemed the best for quality and file size). Again screenshots can be made using Windows (Prt Sc/Alt Prt Sc) without specialist software and Microsoft Picture Manager can be used to crop the captured screenshots (and save them as jpeg or png filetypes). If you want to add audio, all you need is a microphone because Movie Maker includes the facility to record the narration. I used a digital voice recorder, as we have one in the library to record our focus groups, which allows you to record segments of audio which is easier to sync with the images. There is also the facility to add titles before, after or superimposed on any image.
As a Web 2.0 tool the screencasts can be shared (via YouTube or similar) and commented upon. They are highly accessible given the ubiquity of YouTube – you can also access the videos on mobile technologies. The quality of the video material when it has been compressed on YouTube is not as suitable for demonstration purposes to a group but it is perfectly adequate for individuals to follow. There is also scope for colleges to share the Movie Maker project files so that videos can be customised and produced very quickly (particularly given the relatively small range of online resources that most FE colleges subscribe to). File sizes are manageable- the high quality version of a four minute video is around 10 to 12Mb so can be held on a VLE and accessed easily.
Here is my first attempt at creating a screencast video with audio (and only the second time I’d used the software). The whole process took no more time than if I’d have produced a written guide including screenshots.
The library service is producing similar videos on our key online resources:
- Athens authentication system
- Talis Prism library catalogue
- Infotrac – online journals and newspapers
- Dawson Era – E-books database
- MyILibrary – E-books database
When the videos are finished I will post a link to their permanent home. If you can recommend a reasonably priced screencasting software package which can follow the pointer/cursor and allow for the addition of a separate audio track and/or you have used screencasting successfully in your library please leave a comment.