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Create Screencasts for Effective Training Demonstrations

Technical Blog Post


Create Screencasts for Effective Training Demonstrations


You can create screencasts (also known as viewlets) of Maximo to help your employees learn more about the product or to help them understand and complete complex tasks. Often, a company customizes Maximo and screencasts are a good way of providing company-specific information to your employees that is not available in Information Centers or other IBM platforms.

A screencast is basically a recording of the computer screen, which can be produced and edited to create video demonstrations.  Used correctly, screencasts can be an engaging and cost-effective way to educate and train your employees.  Here is some advice to help you create effective screencasts

Planning the screencast

  • When planning a screencast, remember to keep it as short as possible:  between 3 and 5 minutes is ideal.
  • Think about what you want your employees to learn from the screencast, for example, figure out what they need to know to perform a task.
  • Think about the delivery of the screencast. Will the video be displayed on an LCD TV or a desktop computer or a mobile device? The aspect ratio is the proportional relationship between a video’s height and width.  4:3 is the standard ratio for traditional computer monitors while 16:9 is the standard for HD video. LCD demonstrations require an aspect ratio of 16:9 while 4:3 is the more conventional ratio for desktop presentations.
  • Design a storyboard to describe the flow of the screencast. Use screenshots to illustrate the various screen changes that will occur and use comments to describe what is going on in each slide. If recording a voice-over, write a script to describe the various user actions.  A script helps you produce the best sounding audio by allowing you to avoid mistakes or saying “um” or “uh”. Writing a script before you start recording will help save you from doing multiple takes as well as reduce overall project time. At the very least, have a rough idea of what you want to say before recording each slide or demonstration.

Get access to your content sources and software

  • Arrange access to software and data. You may need access to virtual machines, servers, applications, databases, collections, user IDs, passwords, and firewalls. This can be time consuming so identify what you need as soon as possible and go about arranging access to them immediately.
  • Consider using presentation slides, such as PowerPoint slides, for titles and transitions. Make sure that the slide size matches the aspect ratio of the screencast. For a 16:9 screencast, a 1280x720 slide works well; for 4:3 screencasts, 1024x768 is better. To use the slides in your screencast, export them in PNG or TIFF formats.
  • Choose the screencast software that you are going to use. Camtasia Studio and Qarbon ViewletBuilder are two well-known screencast software packages. Freeware options include Jing and ActivePresenter Free Edition while open source alternatives include Freeseer and CamStudio.

Recording the screencast

  • Before you click record, practice, practice, practice!
  • If recording a voice-over, check out this post about creating high quality audio.
  • Clean up your desktop and turn off any instant messaging applications or alerts. Adjust the window size to match the screencast ratio. Avoid capturing third-party or competitor application icons, shortcuts, and so on. Clear your browser history and type-ahead information so that unintended URLs do not display. Remove any custom toolbars or toolbar quick links or any other personal settings. Do not capture any of your Program Files, start menu, or other OS-level functions that may have third-party tools.
  • When recording, capture an individual step rather than an entire task. Break up the capture process into individual steps. You can then import the steps into your screencast project as required.

Editing the screencast

  • Import all your resources into your screencast project. Trim the ends to remove any superfluous recording. Cut mistakes and any parts of the video that drag.
  • If you recorded a voice over, you can speed up your video to match the audio. Use transitions sparingly and keep the user as oriented as possible. If you are using transitions, use introductory slides, simple jump cuts, or cross fades.
  • Use callouts to describe user actions but do not add callouts for actions that are obvious. To focus the user, you can insert pan and zooms. Pan and zooms are especially important if creating screencasts for mobile devices as they can help make the UI text legible. If there are significant sub-steps, create a table of contents.

Publishing and exporting the screencast

  • Export your screencast in the highest quality possible. Publish the screencast in its various formats and make sure that it renders correctly.
  • Be careful when uploading directly to online platforms such as YouTube; it is better to save a master copy first and then upload later.
  • You can also export your screencast in a variety of different formats for different users. For example, you could export an alternative screencast for mobile workers who may be viewing it on tablets or other mobile devices.
  • If file size is a consideration, try reducing the video size, frame rate, automatic bit rate, or both. Remember that each of these reductions can also result in a poorer quality video.

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