Re: how useful are video tutorials/screencasts?

Subject: Re: how useful are video tutorials/screencasts?
From: Chantel Brathwaite <brathwaitec -at- castupgrade -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Wed, 17 Aug 2011 17:04:15 -0400

"Do you make these for your audiences? "

Before I did, but not so much now. My only deliverables are PDF text-based documents at the moment. I'm not authorized to anything else (nor do I really have time to branch out to do anything else).

However, most of the other technical writing jobs that I've had in the past were very different. Even if I were tasked with creating a manual or online help, I could do other things once the work was done. Consequently, I did all sorts of neat things including CBTs and WBTs, video, graphics, posters, marketing materials - in addition to programming and database work. Often the customer gave me free reign so I could really use my entire skillset and could be very creative.

"What kind of reaction do you get (I'm happy to garner informal, anecdotal feedback from professionals at this point, but if you do have statistical/empirical evidence, please feel free to throw it out my way)?"

I've not received any negative feedback. Usually, people who are visual learners like this a lot. Sometimes a picture is truly worth a thousand words. I've never heard of anyone being annoyed at videos. I think videos work extremely well for certain topics. For example, in my current position, there are some things that I make a series of still images for (almost like a filmstrip). I think video is also great for "quick start" information or introduction to basic features - type information. It provides a great overview. But, for more in-depth informatiom, like setting up a series of IP addresses to that different machines can communicate in a closed network, or lots of shots of static screens, I think text is more effective.

"Equally, I'm interested in your gut-feeling as a user about these. I use video tutorials for some students in my teaching work, but oddly I don't like using them myself."

I personally love watching videos and anything interactive. I also enjoy the entire process of writing the script, directing the actors (if required), operating the camera and capturing sound, editing, adding music, etc. But I'm hugely biased ... I just got an MA in Digital Media.


Chantel

On 8/17/2011 8:13 AM, Phil Stokes wrote:

Hi, apologies for cross-posting, but I'd like both a UK and US/International perspective on this one.

This is not an entirely vacuous question: my Tech Comm MA dissertation for next year is on the efficacy of screencasting, so I'm wondering what the techwrl/STC opinion is on screencast/video tutorials, both as users and producers.

Do you make these for your audiences? What kind of reaction do you get (I'm happy to garner informal, anecdotal feedback from professionals at this point, but if you do have statistical/empirical evidence, please feel free to throw it out my way)?

Equally, I'm interested in your gut-feeling as a user about these. I use video tutorials for some students in my teaching work, but oddly I don't like using them myself. Recent example: looking for a quick procedure for installing an OS on an external drive, and the first three Google 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.

What do others think?

Any replies gratefully received.

Phil



Phil Stokes BA MA TESOLcert
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Chulalongkorn University Language Institute
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Tel: (662) 218-6089
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Technical Writing
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Chantel Brathwaite
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Cole Engineering Services Inc.
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how useful are video tutorials/screencasts?: From: Phil Stokes

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