My reflection on Things 3-5.- from the visual communicator section of Rudai 23. Thing 6

So, after an easy introduction to Rudai 23 we got down to business in things 3-5. These provided an opportunity to discover some new communication tools as we moved from still images to videos.

I was excited to read each new ‘Thing’ as they were very relevant to my interest in communicating messages as librarians. However, I think this was perhaps a blessing and curse as I explored every option in great depth. By seeing the potential application of each for marketing my library I got a bit carried away.

The first Thing involved a good rummage around Flickr, which was interesting, especially investigating the application of Creative Commons, and I posted this experience to by blog. Photofunia lived up to its name as I enjoyed slotting in photos of my library into their templates. Although text-length and colour options were significant limitations, it’s quick and easy to use.

  
I may even go back to use the Quik video app in future, though Powerpoint, when used imaginatively, can provide easily produced timed videos with music.

The Thing of most relevance was number five - on video presentations, so that’s where I spent extra time exploring and understanding the applications. Having used Captivate to produce library tutorials I was particularly interested in Screencast o’matic. It’s quite similar to Captivate but the basic version seemed easier to use, enabling the production of quick tutorials and the regular updates they require. Unfortunately, frustrations started early as I couldn’t download the software onto my tablet (which doesn’t have Windows), so I wasted some time with this.

Once sorted on the laptop, my first attempt was to update our library’s search tutorial. Four minutes may seem short, however, as is mentioned during the instructions one shouldn’t launch into using technology without developing a useful and coherent scripted message. I rushed this and so required a lot of drafts. Eventually I decided to try something simpler – a one minute welcome to the website. It enabled me to get to grips with the basics of the technology, which I suppose was the main objective of the Thing. It’s not ready for public use, but I’m quite proud of the start I have made and the potential it provides for the future.
Image of my recording
Powtoon was an even bigger adventure as it provides so many options. It would take hours to really explore all that is available. I admit to mixed feelings about this product. First impressions count. Maybe it’s my traditional (some might say stuffy) attitude, but I found the exuberant enthusiasm of the tutorials with repeated ‘awesome’ and ‘bam’ rather off-putting. (Have I just revealed that I’m not a millennial?) Perhaps it’s all in the name but I found the images very cartoonish and rather unsuitable for many of the professional applications that I would like to use a video for. The music in particular was difficult to listen to. Having said that, there are lots of great features and I found it possible to put together something rather quickly using one of the pre-filled templates. The categories made it possible to choose something very relevant. I didn’t experiment too much, but focused on changing the text so that the message was clear. My only real difficulty was moving slides (swapping their position), which seemed to be a simple matter of drag and drop but for a time seemed to outfox me. Trying to encourage users to try a new resource can be difficult, so as a short, simple animated introduction video I think it works well.



Screen-shots from my Powtoon video.

I like the fact that the basic version is free and fairly easy to use; though the options available are significantly limited. For my experiment on the Powtoon site I created a one-minute video using many of the various types of pages available. Unfortunately most backgrounds have the Pro+ logo in the centre, so are unusable in a public context. Having the Powtoon brand automatically added to the last slide also removes some of professional look one may expect from a work-related video. I think, again, I find that Powerpoint provides many easy options without the obvious branding. And I could use some of the sources from other ‘Things’ to obtain the images needed to create something quick, clean and brand-free. And it was useful to see how one can split screens into various sections to make messages easier to understand

The ultimate test is whether I would use something again. And yes, I would use Screencast o’matic and perhaps Powtoon for short instructional or light-hearted introductory video. It would be worth investing in the professional versions to remove branding and have more uploading options.

Comments

  1. Hi Mary! Thanks so much for this reflective post! I understand you're experiencing some technical difficulties with the Badge, I think our Badge-man Wayne is on the case.

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