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Friday, May 29, 2009

Capture Examples

The primary reasons for doing the eLearning Tour was that it is hard to see examples of what is being done by fellow eLearning professionals and get a sense of the patterns that exist.  As part of pulling together the tour, I asked for contributions from this blog and from Learn Trends.  I received quite a few responses.  Far more than I could accommodate.  And while I believe that I gave a flavor of what's happening out there through the tour, my gut tells me that it would be helpful to capture more examples.

So first question – after participating or viewing the videos for the event:

Is it helpful to capture examples?  Should we look to capture more examples?

Assuming that the answer is that it would be helpful, then the next question is naturally how we will do this.  Most of the people who submitted were quite willing to spend time pulling screen shots together and talking through their example.  But my belief is that putting up a series of videos like the current videos might not be quite right.

In my recent exchange in the post Metalearning with Vic Uzumeri about the use of video, I questioned capturing examples or other knowledge pieces via video, and the accessibility of that information.  Vic's response:

After a bit more than a decade of experimentation, I have formed some strong opinions about video's role:

  1. Video is at least as valuable a knowledge capture tool as it is a knowledge delivery medium. There is absolutely nothing wrong with recording an expert on video, then hunting through the video to help you write a text manual or text and image eLearning course. You can grab stills to illustrate the points. Just because you record it doesn't mean that you have to inflict it on some innocent viewer.
  2. The shorter the video the better. Chunk, chunk, chunk - then use other media to organize the chunks.
  3. Including synchronized subtitles makes a rapid seek far more effective.
  4. You still can't really search video content directly, but you can search a companion transcript, text descriptions and meta-tags.
  5. Video is superior to text for explaining some types of knowledge.
  6. There are tons of things that should never be put in a video and no one should ever be forced to watch - a talking head reading a dry script is my pet peeve.

I think that's well said and when I have been thinking about how we should capture examples, I have found myself debating the merits of:

  • A 30 minute call where we use a Google Doc or something similar for real-time editing of a screen shots and description/notes around the example.  This would then get published as a web page.
  • A 15 minute web session where we record a discussion and include text notes from the chat, possibly editing those later via something like a Google Doc – maybe a real-time editing session.  We would then publish a web page with the recording and the text on the same page.
  • Something else????

Part of my goal here is to find an easy, repeatable way to QUICKLY and EASILY capture these examples.  Particularly, given the shear number:

  • It shouldn't require more than 30 minutes of my time (or another moderators time).
  • It should be easily scanned.
  • It should be easily indexed by Google.
  • It should be HTML, i.e., not in PDF.
  • It should be easy to have other people moderate the capture sessions.

Again, assuming that people are interested in seeing more examples, my question is:

How should we capture examples?


Vic Uzumeri said...


One of my favorite eLearning tools just made a very generous change to their business model.

Blueberry Software (h/t to CEO Martin Green) has recently revamped their product line and now offer their screencasting video capture tool, BB Flashback in a free version.

BB Flashback Express is similar to Camtasia, but it installs a Windows driver to do screen movie capture. That minimizes the load on the CPU and allows it to do a surprisingly good job of capturing even video-based screen action. This free player does not allow any editing (the editor version costs money), but it does export to Flash and AVI and even does a very good job of rescaling screen resolutions.

One way to standardize submissions would be to ask contributors to download and install BB Flashback Express (or equivalent of their choice), record their content (possibly with explanatory comments), then export the result as a Flash or AVI movie.

That only leaves the problem of finding a place where they can upload them for your viewing pleasure.

Youtube? Photobucket?

Tony Karrer said...

Vic - doing the screen capture is not as much of a concern. We can use a few different tools to do that. Although you are right that if we want to capture video, that's going to take more work.

I'm actually more concerned with the form that these take.

Matthew Bibby said...

There is certainly a lot that can be done with video, if you end up going down that path maybe have a look at installing One Click Screencasting on your website so there is no need for contributors to download and install software.

To test One Click Screencasting go here:

To install on your site, see the API info here:

That being said, given the 30 minute editing time frame and other requirements - maybe consider using TwttrList.

You could ask for all contributions to be marked with a hashtag and then at the end of the session to go TwttrList and create a static page of contributions from the session.

TwttrList is here:

Video support could be as simple as contributors linking to their online videos. i.e. record an example using the tool of choice and simply link to it in their tweet!

For sharing videos online I often use - free online storage space that is fully integrated with Jing, Camtasia & SnagIT as well as provide a great desktop uploader for PC & Mac.