This project has been in the making for the last 3 years. Back in May 2012, my office purchased a new online database that manages virtually every aspect of our work. Part of this database interfaces with students who have disabilities. Even before we rolled out the database, staff were talking about instructional materials to assist our students in a transition from a paper-based office to electronic one. We had this grandiose plan of creating beautiful videos with PowerPoint and screencast elements.
However, life got in the way as it often does. As other priorities arouse, this project kept sinking lower and lower on the to-do list. The Worked Example assignment for EDTECH 513 is such a blessing, because this assignment is doing essentially what we wanted to produce anyways.
Even though staff have been talking about videos for 3 years, we had ahard time picking one narrow topic that will be clear to explain but also be thorough enough to be helpful. I decided to start with the first step that students with disabilities must do in the process of receiving services. Thus, the product is called “Getting Started with DRS and Completing Student Application”. And that might come up on tonight
I engaged the assistance of the student employee to build some momentum (and keep him occupied during the summer hours). I had him (a) evaluate videos that are peers have produced regarding this the same software and (b) download and install the tool we chose which is Camtasia. I also had him create a prototype so we could determine the flow of creating, editing and producing. I wanted to know, for future videos, which parts of the process could be done by student workers, and which ones had to be done by staff.
After that, I stepped in. I looked at a very rough draft of the script and essentially rewrote it based on the feedback I received from staff members. I had to narrow down the word choice and the ideas so they were clear and concise. It was also determined that we needed to incorporate some other elements into this video that we had not previously anticipated (like what is the difference between our office and the other disability services office on campus). It took more time than expected to figure out which main points belong in which video as this is the first of a series. I created a Word document with 10 different columns signifying 10 different videos. Within each column, I outlined the main points and sub-points that should be covered.
The next step was to create a PowerPoint that outlined the main ideas for steps before showing the screencast. We felt it would help to maintain interest amongst our students who have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) as well as provide clarity.
Because this is a project for a professional office, we had to use the University’s PowerPoint templates. It took some time to alter the wording as well as the layout. One of the things that was discovered in the prototype was the need to add a footer of our contact information, so users can easily find contact information at any point during the video. The PowerPoint template was limited and I had to “manually” create a footer.
The screencast step in the creation process was more nerve-racking and time-consuming than I realized. For each screencast, (and there are three in this video), I essentially had to recorded about five times for it was seamless. There was some slightly awkward pacing but I was able to edit most of that out. I also realize how unsteady my mouse was on the screen once the record button was activated. However, I finally was able to get it all worked out and the different types of files compiled together in Camtasia.
Using Camtasia to Caption
Accessibility is extremely important to my office and I took much time to ensure the captions were timed correctly and that they were a reflection of the audio. There are certain parts of the scripts that I did not follow verbatim and it took more time to edit the word choice during the captioning process then desired. Thankfully, I Camtasia had a pretty easy to use captioning tool that allow me to listen to the audio, watch the screen and select a single word which initiated the start of a new caption. I was also able to export a captioning file that was easily uploaded into YouTube, the selected media player for final production.
Using Camtasia to Add Callouts
Adding callouts (arrows, circles) was the easiest part. I simply selected what shape I wanted, changed the border, transparency and color and dragged it to the location. Finally, I adjusted the timings of when it should enter and when it should leave.
Now that I went to the whole process by myself, I will be able to teach other student employees how to do certain pieces. For example, I found it extremely important for a staff member to create and edit the script. It also is probably best practice if whoever creates the script also narrates it. Additionally, it is important for a staff member to create a PowerPoint as we can simplify the main idea in the script to prevent overload. This follows multimedia principles. However, the captioning and callouts can be delegated to a student worker.
For the remaining videos, I have a game plan of which staff should create the script and PowerPoint and which student workers should be assigned to adding the captions and callouts. This will create an assembly line of sorts with myself, who has (now) been formally trained in multimedia creation, as overseer.
And the best part? I created a 3-minute video that will be beneficial for the students I serve! Check that off the list!