Tutorial Creation: Lessons Learned

I recently created a library tutorial for a class assignment.  It showed people how to locate trade journals, and if my understanding of Bloom’s Taxonomy is correct, the cognitive skills are lower level ones.  Peer review has been positive, so I thought I would share some of my “best practices” for that particular tutorial.

I had read the following article, and it was invaluable. Anyone wanting to create a tutorial, even if you are not a librarian, should read it:

Plumb, T. K. (2010). Creating electronic tutorials: On your mark, get set, go! Journal of Electronic Resources Librarianship, 22(1), 49-64. doi:10.1080/1941126X.2010.486729

Based on this article, I kept the the tutorial short; it only explained one skill.  I also stuck to the branding scheme of my University Library.

I used Camtasia to create the tutorial.  This was a practical consideration.  Camtasia is the software we use for class, and I “pushing” out information to people.  I don’t know how to use Camtasia, and I’m not sure how much interactivity I needed here.

I made several “practice” tutorials on which to learn new skills.  Based on the peer review feedback from a word tutorial intended to teach the exact same skill, I knew I’d need to zoom in quite a bit and that I would have to use call outs. I did not really know how to do either of these things very well.  I reviewed some tutorials from TechSmith, which were very helpful.

1.  Making a practice video on which to practice the zooms and call outs was invaluable.  I knew I could make mistakes on voice narration because this was all a trial run.

2.  I learned that I should uncouple the audio from the video if I wanted narration on title and closing clips.  The title and closing clips were the parts that were really “branded.”  I needed an intro and a conclusion.

3.  I learned that it was best to do the zoom and pans first before the call outs.

4.  I did call outs last.  I used the Zoom in feature to help out with that.  Timing of these call outs was crucial,and by getting down to the tenth of seconds, I could make things better. I can’t emphasize the importance of using this tool; it really became my friend.

Another valuable resource is Tips for Developing Effective Web-Based Library Instruction, courtesy of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Instruction Section. I recommend every librarian, especially academic ones, use ACRL publications as a launching pad.

In short, having a plan and doing some pre work is well worth the time in creating a tutorial.  Also, know what your software can do and construct your content around that.  I had a script too.  Once all this is in place, the actual tutorial creation is very, very short.  And you can use this pre work for the next tutorials you create.


About Pamela J. Morgan

Librarian at Vanderbilt University Libraries
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