Friday, January 05, 2007

Don't Tell Me, Show Me

I am the king of help sheets. Here at my school I've created and distributed tech help sheets that explain everything from "How to check your school e-mail at home" to "How to link to UnitedStreaming video assignments from your Blackboard course".

Unfortunately, what takes 30 minutes to explain in writing, I can usually demonstrate in 30 seconds on my computer screen. Well now my days of help sheet writing may be over.

Windows Media Encoder is a free download from Microsoft. (Thanks Steve Dembo for mentioning it in your blog.) It has several capabilities, but the one that caught my attention is its ability to record your screen activity.

Now I can hook a microphone up to my computer and record myself demonstrating various computer tasks for our students or teachers. When I'm done I have a Windows Media file that can be posted or e-mailed to whoever needs help. When anyone watches the video, it will be just like they are watching my screen and listening to me explain what to do.

Using the medium quality setting, 90 seconds of video takes up about 512K (1/2 MB) of space. What I've found works best is to break a task into several short 1-2 minute clips rather than record one long 10 minute clip. The shorter clips let your viewers select the part of the demo they want to watch, plus the smaller file size means they'll download faster.

Since I was not able to use Windows Media Encoder to record itself, I've posted a help sheet that explains how to use it.

[Using Windows Media Encoder]

Okay, so my days of help sheet writing aren't completely over.

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