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Archive for the ‘Screencast’ Category

I just learned that there’s now an easier way to try to help patrons find books by color. They’d still need to know a little bit about the book but did you know that you can do a Google Images search and then sort the results by color?  I was vaguely aware of this feature but it never occurred to me to try to do it for a cover search.  Take a look at my screencast  for a quick demo on how it works.  My sample isn’t the most elegant so I’ve embedded the the actual Power Searching lesson below.


I found out about this through a free course distributed through the SLA listserv.  Power Searching with Google starts today and will run through July 23.  Classes are released at regular intervals and the course is self paced (and seems to come with a certificate of completion, I’ll post that on the blog somewhere later).  The first class covers some basic tips such as using ctrl + F to find text on a page and keyword strategy but it also included the color sort for images.  I recommend signing up the activities are painless and it looks like it will be useful!

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One of my favorite projects at work is one I proposed to my supervisor last summer.  We’ve been working on a series of tutorials to help our patrons with the basics of interlibrary loan. Part of the reason I’m so proud of this tutorial is I believe it’s important that our patrons have access to the basics from their own computers since many of our incoming undergraduates may take a while to set foot in the library.  Or learn that they can use the library for more than just course reserves and trying to game the system for free textbooks.

Our first tutorial (seen here) is very basic and teaches our patrons how to request a book. We are in the polishing stages of how to place a renewal request (they cannot use the same system they use for their other library books, while that would be the ideal we’re working with what we have) and starting on one to help patrons request an article effectively.  As you can see the first tutorial is basic in design as well as content.  We decided to use power-point slides since we did not know how many of our users would be able to or want to listen to the audio while using the tutorial.  The slides with screenshots were the best of both worlds, allowing us to show the patron what they needed but still progress through the steps in the proper order while a live screencast may be more dramatic there is a great chance that something could be missed if the presenter moves too fast.  Another added benefit was that I was free to write out my notes for the speaking part and tried to read slowly rather than picking up speed and potentially losing my patron.

After completing the first tutorial and knowing the format we liked, we decided for the next in our series to try a few variations to see if another software would better suit our needs.  I had heard about Screencast-o-matic on a listserv and the primary appeal for using that format was the subtitles.  Screencast-o-matic also allows for a longer recording time (15 minutes for the free version rather than the 5 minutes for Jing) and some wonderful tutorials that Jing did not have.  PSA: When putting in the captions, put a space between each line in the txt file – it took me a while to find this tutorial and find the one note that they put in an overlay, hopefully this will save you some time.  Overall Screencast-o-matic is very easy to use, does not require a download and yields very good results.  One of its major drawbacks, however is it runs on a Java plug-in which may not be available on all computers, rather than Jing which seems to run on every system I’ve found.  If this is not the case, please let me know in the comments and I’ll alert my supervisor when it’s time to record our new tutorial.

The other piece of software we tried was Prezi.  I was very excited about Prezi after seeing it used to present a talk at an San Diego SLA seminar in the fall.  My coworker had difficulty loading the pre-made PowerPoint slides but had an easy time replicating them in the program.  It was very intuitive and easy to use.  The presentation itself was very useful except we could not find a way to make an audio recording to accompany our slides.  I imagine this is because Prezi is a presentation solution, meant to accompany a live speaker.  The other drawback to Prezi was the motion jumping from slide to slide gave one of our supervisor a touch of motion sickness.  Even though I list Prezi as an option, for our purposes we were realistically using Prezi to replace Powerpoint and then using Jing to record Prezi, so it may not be in the same category.

Overall our department has decided to stay with Jing because we are familiar with it, how it works and presents and believe this will lend a uniformity to all materials made available on the library website.  Jing also does not run on Java making it easily accessible without worrying about plugins.  Although Jing does have a shorter time limit than Screencast-o-matic this does not affect our tutorials since the purpose is to keep them short.  We will probably move towards using Prezi for future in person trainings of students and other events instead of Powerpoint.

I hope this will save some of my readers some time when you have to decide which tool to use; hopefully this will save you some of the work I went through!

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