By Meredith Farkas | February 28, 2005
I think Podcasting is cool, but not for me. I’m a visual learner, so listening to my favorite bloggers takes more mental energy to absorb than reading their blog entries. In graduate school, I hated listening to real audio lectures from my professors unless they were accompanied by lecture notes, powerpoint, or something visual. That’s just how I learn best, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. But there are people who see words on the written page and are struck with anxiety. That’s not how they learn. So for them podcasting is fantastic. I guess it’s good that we’re branching out in all of these different directions, because there will always be people who learn better with one format over another.
I guess I discovered “screencasting” in 2003, though I didn’t call it that at the time. My husband and I were looking to create easy to understand and easy to create flash tutorials for how to use his software, and when we discovered Camtasia Studio, we were pretty hooked. Camtasia allows you to record your actions on the screen as well as your voice narration. You can zoom on areas that are particularly important on the screen or highlight the place you clicked. I found it incredibly easy to learn how to use, which was rare in similar products at the time. I don’t know if a lot of librarians or libraries were using Camtasia at the time. I remember at the ALA Annual in Orlando in 2004, the poor TechSmith booth seemed to always be empty (though location may have been a factor).
So I am absolutely thrilled to see that Camtasia (and screencasting) are coming into their own. I can see a million great ways to use Camtasia in libraries, including enhancing boring powerpoint presentations and creating online tutorials on how to use online databases or how to search. You could essentially develop information literacy courses that are entirely online using a combination of powerpoint, narration, and videos of the instructor using the relevant databases, sites, etc. This can all be done with Camtasia. When more and more students are distance learners and are never even setting foot on campus, screencasting can bring the information literacy classroom to them. It’s something I get giddy about (I am such a geek!). These days there are probably dozens of similar products around (check out this great post at Technogeekery for Libraries) but Camtasia still fulfills all of my “screencasting” needs.
I hope more libraries start using programs like Camtasia to create tutorials that will meet the needs of both visual and auditory learners. It’s getting easier and easier to do. When I click on a library tutorial see static pages of text, I rarely even bother to read it. When I see a movie that illustrates step-by-step how to accomplish the task, I am more likely to stay for the show. We have to create information literacy materials in the formats that the generation of students now in high school and college actually use, or we won’t be able to engage them at all.