Re: how useful are video tutorials/screencasts?

Subject: Re: how useful are video tutorials/screencasts?
From: "Peter Neilson" <neilson -at- windstream -dot- net>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Wed, 17 Aug 2011 09:25:59 -0400

On Wed, 17 Aug 2011 08:13:29 -0400, Phil Stokes <philstokes03 -at- googlemail -dot- com> wrote:

hits were Youtube vids. I don't want to watch a video; its too time consuming both as an experience and in terms of wasting processor time compared to loading a simple blog page with step 1 to 5 in text.

I have two videos right now that I intend to watch, about a particular aspects of web design. Now what could be better suited than video to showing how to do web design? Well, the first video is an amateur production, and starts off with a lot of jokes about the two guys doing the video having nearly the same name. I've not gotten much past that point yet. Real work came up. That was a week ago. Maybe some day I'll try viewing it again, because it promised some good information.

I've seen other poor videos. Like the Camtasia one where the narrator is pushing the cursor around to places HE KNOWS IN ADVANCE and trying to call the viewer's attention to what he's doing. "As you can see here ... " NO, I DO NOT SEE. WHERE ARE YOU??? By the time I do see, he's off to the next step already.

I did a video myself long ago, a tutorial about some crazy chunk of software. I used blackboard and chalk. It remained a standard at that company for several years, mostly because I addressed only what the viewer needed to know and covered it all rather quickly. "There about 80 command-line commands. You only need 15 of them. Here they are. I know you're thinking that I've got some secrets, some hidden information about the other 65 commands, and that's almost true, and here it is: You Don't Need Them." My video helped people who felt overwhelmed by the written manual that covered, unfortunately, all 80 commands in the first chapter or two.

A video needs proper scripting. This can be done by writing out a script beforehand, but it can be done as well by having an expert give a talk, even off the cuff, if he's able to lecture concisely.

Videos must be appropriate for the audience. In general that means the material must also be available in written text, because some people cannot learn from a video or a classroom lecture. It also means that the video must sustain interest. No curate's egg. A slow or confusing portion will ruin it all. The best aspect of a good video is that it can inspire the viewer to action. At the end, the viewer should go and try something new, something that he would have never bothered with, had it not been for the video.

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how useful are video tutorials/screencasts?: From: Phil Stokes

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