Screencast-o-matic scripted recordings

I was introduced to Screencast-o-matic by Phil Bradley who mentioned it on his blog. I first tried the free version which allows you to record applications on your desktop. This free version is limited in that you can only work on one project at a time, and has limited editing options – just rewind and re-record. The paid version has much better functionality, particularly the scripted recordings feature.

Scripted recordings

screencastomatic scripted recording

Screencast-o-matic scripted recording screen with script

This allows you to build up your videos in segments. First you create a script – you can copy and paste one into it, or type straight in.  (see image left).

Each line of script becomes an individual segment of recording. Note that you can’t format the text with paragraphs or bulleted lists.

The second step allows you to record the audio – you can do this one segment at a time, or just keep recording, hitting the next button to move down the script you have created. You literally just read what you have put in the screen – no messing about with printouts.

Screencast-o-matic add video

Screencast-o-matic add video

Finally you add the video. You can capture a tour of a website, any application on your desktop or a presentation. The audio plays out to you, and you determine what you capture as the pictures to overlay it. Again you can do this one segment at a time. If you make a mistake you can just re-record the video over again.

The final step is to publish the finished product – and there are a range of options for doing this.

As a scripted recording you can choose to have the script display as captions beneath the video – great for accessibility purposes.

It is also possible to create videos that are web cam based, or web cam plus desktop. I haven’t tried these as I prefer the scripted option for accessibility, but may use in the future.

why i like it

For me this product makes creating videos so much simpler. The fact that you can build it up in layers, and each layer can be edited separately means that you can fine tune your product. Being able to record the audio separately from the video means you don’t have to worry about what you are saying as you are trying to capture something on your screen at the same time. So there is less chance of error.

I used this at CILIP on the CILIP VLE to create a number of videos for short courses on there. In the Teaching Large Groups course by Barbara Allan, I was able to upload the script provided by Barbara, record the audio with her in a short morning session, then add the images myself at a later date. This meant that I could make the most effective use of her and my time, and meant I only needed an hour or so of Barbara’s time to produce a number of recordings for the course.

The fact that we can include the script as captions also supports accessibility for our members. Members have asked for this feature – not just those with hearing loss but those who work in open plan offices and wish to watch without the sound. So it is nice to be able to add this automatically as part of the production process. Automatically generated closed captions on sites such as YouTube can leave a lot to be desired.

improving the videos

Having simplified the capture process with this software, it frees up time to think about how I can improve the videos I create. Key things I am trying to do are as follows:

  • Reduce the time spent on a single static slide – as this can be boring for the end-user
  • Use more graphics – such as images sourced from http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/ to make the presentations more visually appealing
  • Using animation on slides with smartart graphics to add impact and visual effect

Although the closed captions are really useful, having undertaken a MOOC that had a lot of video content one thing I found annoying was that the transcript lacked diagrams included in the presentation. This meant you had to watch the video to get all the info – even if you had bandwidth problems. (Perils of living in the valleys!). So I am thinking about adding the transcript created from the slides in PowerPoint as well as the closed captions, as I feel that will give our members the choice of watching the video or viewing the images plus text.

Using Screencast-o-matic has really made me think about how I segment and construct a video. In particular, what makes a suitable chunk of narrative and what I want to accompany it. Hopefully this reflection and evaluation means that as I progress in this, the content I produce increases in quality and provides a valuable resource for the CILIP members.

I have to say I really like the tool – it is simple to use, and allows me to do my job more efficiently. It is also quite cheap. If you want to create some quick videos then it’s worth giving this a try. There are plenty of tutorials on the site to help you use the product, and it has a very simple easy to use interface.

 

Webinar Wows and Woes

As part of my work I have been supporting CILIP staff and Special Interest Groups in using webinar software to deliver training and CPD opportunities. Despite having significant experience hosting and delivering webinars, the monsters in the machine are still lurking waiting to pounce. This post relates to my experiences with the CILIP Information Literacy Group and the IL group webinars they have run as part of the LILAC conference.

Wows

The first webinar was led by Alan Carbery, and was a great example of how to design a presentation for a webinar audience. Alan made excellent use of graphics to give his slides variation and impact. He also had built in a series of questions for the audience which were answered through the text chat facility. As a presenter, this can feel hard to manage, as you are sat waiting for your remote audience to type. Alan managed this well by repeating instructions, then as the responses came in commenting on them and responding to them so that the audience felt engaged. There was a lot of participation and sharing of experience, and his questions helped the audience to think about their next presentation how to structure it and give it impact.

All of the webinars in this series before LILAC were designed to help presenters and participant get the most out of the conference. The topics were well thought out, and the presenters all included the audience through text chat. I’d recommend anyone who is attending a conference for the first time (even if it’s not LILAC) to have a look at these for hints and tips. Feedback from the participants at the close of each session was really positive, and I felt I learnt as much by watching other people present and audience text messages as I did from the topic .

Woes

Technology was the course of the woes, and what I thought would be useful is to describe the issue and what we have done to try and avoid/minimise it for future sessions.

Presentation in PDF form not displaying correctly

In the first webinar, Alan had sent his slides as a pdf to maintain formatting and fonts. Unfortunately when loaded into the webinar software they displayed portrait not landscape.

Solution: I manually rotated each slide for Alan in the whiteboard. This was timeconsuming, but luckily we had logged on in advance of session so could do this. As an alternative the presentation could have been run from presenters computer using application share rather than loading into the whiteboard.

Participants not getting audio

phone in cam by pc

@lucy_langley solution to audio probs

When participants logged in a number had issues with audio set-up. They couldn’t hear the presenters, or hadn’t worked out how to set up their audio on their PC. In the end some had to phone in, but it meant I was scrabbling around trying to find the phone number and meeting number for them to do this. Note some of the participants found creative solutions to managing the phone audio – as image shows.

Solution: I’ve created a basic slide that explains how to log in and has the phone number and meeting number on it. This can be updated for each session, and is displayed before the start of the session to help participants log in. I’ve also created basic instructions for joining meetings that explain this which can be mailed out in advance of webinars.

Issues with presenters audio

On the last session one of the presenters had problems with their audio set-up. Although they could hear ok, when they tried to connect their mic it resulted in nasty feedback and echo. We tried all the troubleshooting options, and wanted to resort to phone audio. Unfortunately the room they were in didn’t allow external calls. In the end a colleague from IL group presented in their place.

Solution: On reflection have decided it is probably best to schedule a test run for presenters so they can see the software and check settings in a stress free scenario. I have also updated info for presenters to note that they need a room with external phone for back up plan. If this fails, then cancelling and rescheduling the webinar is the last resort.

Reflections

So although the woes at the time were enough to send the pulse racing they have been a valuable learning experience. I’ve been sharing the issues with the team, so that they can anticipate these issues and know they can be solved. This has also fed into a “Facilitating Webinars” guide for colleagues to use. And it helped me prepare for a future event, as I went on a tested a presentation with animation only to discover that all the animation didn’t transfer across. So I know I have a back up on how to deal with this, and it wont be something to fluster me in a live event.

The LILAC PreConference webinars were a great way for me to work with a Special Interest Group, and also consider how different it is to facilitate versus host a webinar. CILIP is looking to offer more webinars for it’s members, so all these bloopers will help make future sessions run smoother.

And of course…. remember that the monsters in the machine are there waiting to get you. Just carry your anti-monster kit at all times and BE PREPARED!

It started with a…

CILIP PKSB Wheel

CILIP PKSB Wheel. Copyright CILIP

PKSB   Analysis. This was my first step on my CILIP Fellowship journey. As part of the requirements you have to undertake a self analysis of your skills using the PKSB. Under each of the categories there are a number of skills, and you score yourself on a scale of 0 (none) to 4 (advanced) as to where you are now and where you want to be.

Sounds easy doesn’t it? Actually I found this incredibly hard. Trying to distinguish between what was 3(good) level of knowledge versus 4(advanced) is something that even now I have questions about. I decided to go through  the whole PKSB and rate myself in every section. Whilst I have put areas where my existing knowledge is lower than my ideal level, I’m not intending on improving all of these over the next year. It’s more a case of trying  to think where I want to be at some point, and this is how I feel about it now.

Being overly critical

I am very critical of myself. I have high expectations, and in my first attempt at my PKSB analysis this really showed. When I went through each item with my mentor, and discussed it she queried some of my ratings. We went through it changing some of the values – on the whole increasing the scores of my current level of knowledge in a number of areas. It helped to discuss this, as through talking through what I felt I knew in different areas it clarified to me that actually maybe I did know a bit more than I thought.

I think it would be helpful if CILIP could provide more guidance on what the scores mean. Also it would help if the statements from the PDF PKSB version on p4 were included on the gap analysis spreadsheet. I used that to do my analysis and it just shows the numbers not the detailed info.

Deciding what to prioritise

We also discussed where I should focus my efforts for my CILIP Fellowship. Although I had shown a number of areas where I felt I could improve my skills, not all of them were a priority for me. Again having the mentor to discuss this was really useful, as she helped clarify my thoughts and when I asked for suggestions on taking it forward she gave me some great ideas too. Areas I want to progress are:

  • Technology – keeping up to date with new tec and improving my systems level knowledge of the CILIP VLE
  • Data analysis – I want to improve my analysis skills. There’s so much data collected by the VLE logs and I’m not really doing anything with it.
  • Info behaviour – this links with the anlaysis. I’d like to drill more into user behaviour and user experience so that I can improve the VLE for our members.
  • Networking – I feel I have slipped into a black hole of obscurity over the last few years, and want to become more active in the profession.
  • Leadership – am keen to develop these skills

where next?

So following on from my mentor meeting to discuss the PKSB analysis I went back and annotated the spreadsheet. I’ve added comments explaining which areas I want to prioritise, and those I am leaving for now and why. I’ve uploaded this into my Portfolio along with the initial one, so that the assessors can see the ongoing thought process.

I then used those areas I had identified as priorities and put them into a plan on the CILIP Portfolio. Each heading has a couple of actions, and I have tried to set some dates as a way of motivating myself. Using one of my #Fellowshipfridays I then started to try and identify how I would do these – I’ve signed up for a Mooc or two, and arranged some meetings with colleagues as starting points.

So I have made a start. It’s a very small start, but hopefully if I keep taking these small steps I will eventually get there. Which is rather like my running… slow, steady, stumbling and staggering but eventually I make it to the end.

On mentoring

As part of my CILIP fellowship process I have decided to become a CILIP mentor.  I have mentored in the past: students as their dissertation supervisor or personal tutor; and colleagues for their professional development. To ensure that I was up to speed with how CILIP view the process I attended the mentor training at CILIP HQ in September 2016.

The session was led by my colleague Helen, and as part of the process we had a debrief afterwards so that I could provide her with some feedback to help her reflections on how the session went. The session itself was very useful, down to the facilitation by Helen, and the willingness of the participants to share their experiences. One of my dissertation students was in the session, so it was interesting when we were both discussing mentoring and reflecting on that aspect!

As a trainer when I attend sessions I immediately start looking at how they delivered, and try to pick up tips I can use in my practice. One lightbulb moment for me was watching Helen demonstrate the techniques of being a mentor through open questioning to get a participant to find the answers to a situation they had described. The initial context of the query had to do with avoiding the mentor. Helen cleverly used probing questions to peel back the layers, modelling the mentor  behaviour in the process and at the same contributing to the theme under discussion.

When I fed this back to Helen, she hadn’t consciously realised that she was doing it, but had done so because she felt it was an issue that needed further exploration and discussion. It worked because she was in no way threatening in her questions, she had created an atmosphere of trust and sharing already in the room, which meant the participant was able to reflect and share their reflections with the group. It helped that Helen was completely outside the situation being discussed, so had objectivity and distance.

For me this was the most useful aspect, reinforcing  the need to create that feeling of mutual trust and respect. The technique of asking questions not offering solutions, giving thinking time so the mentee can reflect. I hope that I can bring these skills to my CILIP mentees. It also served to emphasise why you want someone outside of your sector for your mentor, because they can ask basic questions that make you see things from a different perspective.

So now I am officially a CILIP mentor, I’m on the mentor list ready and waiting for my first mentee. I’ll be bringing a questioning mind, trying to create a supportive environment for them, as well as an in depth knowledge of the CILIP VLE!

And I’m not just doing this to help my Fellowship application, I see it as a way I can give something back to the profession. I know I have benefitted from excellent mentors throughout my career, and  it feels right to pass on that to others.

 

 

Revalidation – how not to do it

After much procrastinating I recently submitted and passed my CILIP Revalidation. I thought I’d post some comments on things that I noted to do differently/better next time around.

1. Do get the word count right!

In my mind I thought I had 750 words to play with – imagine my horror after composing a glorious 750 word reflective statement to discover it needed to be 250. There was some serious hacking and slaying of words that was painful. I cheated a bit, using a table I had produced as a piece of supporting evidence. You don’t have to add supporting evidence for revalidation, but I felt it showed reflection and didn’t want to lose it.

2. Put your CPD in one log

You have to log at least 20 hours of CPD to revalidate. This wasn’t a problem, but I had thought it would be nice to create separate logs for each category of CPD activity e.g. one for Moodle Development, one for Digitisation etc. This meant that when I came to assemble my Page for submission on the CILIP Portfolio I had to add multiple logs – which looked a bit scrappy. For next time I’m going to do one log, but use the tagging feature to categorise things.

3. Log things when they happen

I had not kept my log up to date, so ended up adding in things in a bundle. This meant I had to rely on my not so hot memory. I’m sure I missed things out, so I have made a resolution to try and add things as they happen and be more proactive about this.

4. check the guide before submitting

In the excitement of completing my statement and log, I went ahead and submitted my page on the CILIP VLE. And forgot that I had to share it with the assessors! [Yes I should know better as CILIP employee]. Luckily my colleagues in the office pointed this out to me, and I was able to go in to sort it out, but if I had bothered to check the lovely revalidation guide Matthew Wheeler had produced I would have seen this instruction on it.

final thoughts

The revalidation process wasn’t that difficult. I know I can easily do more than 20 hours CPD a year, its just a case of noting it down. And actually the process of doing this made me think about what I want to do over the next year to develop myself. I’d recommend doing revalidation as it creates a record for you that goes beyond your current job – I’m on a temporary contract at the moment, so for me I see this as a way of helping me to record what I am developing now for when I have to start job hunting again.

On the success of passing my revalidation I have decided to take the next step and have enrolled for CILIP Fellowship. Again I think it will help me for future career moves, and will provide a focus for working out what areas I want to develop my skills in. So watch out for future posts on that.

So go on – if you haven’t revalidated why not give it a go?

Freedom to be

I was inspired by the CILIP Conference to resurrect this blog. Something I’ve been meaning to do for a while but it was the Keynotes that have really fired my enthusiasm.

Our Human Rights

Liberty's human rights posterShami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty spoke eloquently about our human rights. You can get this The Human Rights Act poster from Liberty which summarises it. As an information professional the ones that stand out for me are:

  • Right to respect for a private life
  • Freedom of thought
  • Free speech
  • Right to an education

These are the rights that we as information professionals can contribute to and support. As a member of CILIP when you sign up you agree to abide by CILIP’s ethical principles. These include

Concern for the public good in all professional matters, including respect for diversity within society, and the promoting of equal opportunities and human rights.

Commitment to the defence, and the advancement, of access to information, ideas and works of the imagination

Impartiality, and avoidance of inappropriate bias, in acquiring and evaluating information and in mediating it to other information users.

Respect for confidentiality and privacy in dealing with information users.

To me they also link to what I believe Information Literacy is all about. Cees Hamelink (1976) in his article “An Alternative to News” discusses how information functions as an oppressive tool since, by its manner of presentation, it keeps people from shaping their own world.He calls for a “new information literacy is necessary for liberation from the oppressive effects of institutionalised public media.” It’s not just the finding information; it is the critical thinking, questioning and going beyond the easy sources to get a comprehensive view of the world.

How can you have free speech, freedom of thought if you do not have access to a diverse range of information sources, or learning oportunities? Librarians and Information professionals support this through initiatives such as:

  • The Library Freedom project set up by Alison Macrina. You can read about this on the CILIP Blog, and see a video of Alison discussing this on the CILIP VLE Privacy course.
  • Initiatives such as Radical reference – sadly on hiatus but their information sources are a useful list
  • Public libraries in the UK which provide free access to information, a safe place for people to go to find out about their rights, with professional staff that can guide them to relevant information sources

I’d love to see a Library Freedom project UK version – perhaps something CILIP and Liberty can work together on? And this is why I feel that there is a potential danger in the move to volunteer led library services – as do those volunteers have the commitment to these ethical principles that we professionals do?

Social reform

What I found most poignant after Shami’s talk was to hear Erwin James’ testimonial. Erwin presented his talk “you never know where a good book might take you” reflecting on his transformation from a lifer to a writer. Hats off to whoever scheduled the keyntoes, because hearing this after Shami’s talk made it so much more pertinent for me. His story is an impact case study in action, showing how literacy, prison libraries and their professional staff can contribute to the rehabilitation of offenders. How reading can open minds, change your perspective and lead you to new heights.

His words “Best I could do [for my victims] was to find the freedom to be who I should have been” are a rallying call for us all. We as information professionals have a role to play in supporting people’s freedom to be the best they can. We need to be the best we can be to support Human Rights, Social Reform and the individuals in our communities.

Be the best you can beI’m going to work on improving myself now by going to my local library to borrow Shami’s book – who knows where that will lead me? In the words of @andytraining “be better, thx”.

 

CPD23 Thing 3 – Who am I?

Am rather behind on my CPD activities. However today it is wet and I’m at home so good excuse to do something productive. I have to say I am impressed at @joeyanne’s branding with purple flowers and penguin. I’m not (and don’t think I ever will be) that coordinated.

Having read the Thing 3 post I went ahead and googled myself. Here are the images of that search – page 1 and 2.

I’m pleased that on page one it has my profile at Aber and relates to my linked in profile, then on page 2 it has links to papers etc I have written in the past. As far as personal branding goes I try to have my “professional” self visible, and my “private” self separate. My Facebook account is locked down as tight as I can make it, it’s for sharing with friends and family not the world in general. I have JFJ24 as my ID for twitter and delicious – just because it was my OUID when I set them up and was easy for me to remember. Plus at the time I wasn’t sure how open I wanted to be.

In terms of tone I try to write on here like a conversation. It’s my personal style, reflects me and given that I am writing this to help my reflection I have to write in a way I am comfortable with. Because it is a professional blog I try to ensure the tone is appropriate and I self censor – I only write things I would be comfortable with an employer viewing. My twitter is a bit more informal, but there is still a line there.

I don’t think I’m very good at self publicising and getting my brand out there. And I’m not sure how much I want to go that route. Its something I want to ponder a bit more, so will sit back and mull.