With the diverse tools available I find myself confused- what is the best tool to use? For example, if I am thinking of conducting a remote library orientation or perhaps a meeting. Should I screencast/webcast/videocast/slidecast/
Beyond the exact definition of each term more importantly when should each tool be used? This is my attempt to clarify all these tools in my mind.
To me, one fundamental way to differentiate online tools is to consider whether the tool is meant for one to one sessions or one to many. In this blog post, I will discuss tools for one to many online sessions. The focus here will be on librarians sharing slides, videos, documents , browsers, displays of *their* screen to large groups online and narrating with their voices and sometimes showing videos of their faces from webcams.
Cobrowsing is a related but different technology to screensharing.
"Co-browsing differentiates itself from screen or application sharing because it is not achieved by sending a high rate of screenshots of the presenter screen to one or more participants but by distributing in a synchronous fashion the URL(s) being visited by the presenter to all participants' browsers."
To add further confusion there is a difference between "screen sharing" and "application sharing", where the later is "more specifically the ability not just to show specific applications to other connected participants but the combined ability of screen sharing with remote control.", though the distinction usually isn't made.
But for most use cases I am considering
While some advanced services do allow both screensharing, application sharing & cobrowsing type facilities, with higher bandwidths and technical issues with cobrowsing, screensharing is the main method of presentation.
In what follows I will focus on librarians doing screensharing ie sharing their screens or presentations to others rather than cobrowsing/remote assistant type functions.
The main decision you have to make is whether you want to have something prerecorded so your users can watch it anytime they want. This would be asynchronous type of session. The advantage is that you can have "digital extensions" of yourself that is always ready to help 24/7. The disadvantage is that it is all prerecorded so any element of interactivity is gone.
Some presenters are more comfortable with prerecorded sessions compared to "live" sessions because they can ensure that whatever they do is "perfect", recording over and over again until they are happy. On the other hand the pursuit for perfection can be very time consuming and often can also lead to a very boring presentation that lacks a certain spark a real live presentation includes.
Hybrid ideas include doing a "live presentation" which is also recorded for future viewing. So for example WebEx a web conferencing software generally meant for live seasons has build-in recording functions.
Another interesting idea for presenters who are afraid of making errors in real-time is to prerecord certain sections, play them in the "live" online season, then react in real-time to questions sent online. Of course this whole thing will then be recorded. Again Web-ex does allow this.
Below are some tools that are I believe purely meant for prerecording with little or no live casting capabilities.
Tools you can do to prerecord include anything from full-blown powerful tools like Camtasia/Adobe Captivate to free/freemium services like Camstudio, Jing or webbased ones like
Screencast-O-Matic, ScreenCastle, Screenr (comparison on Edtech blog). Though many of these webbased tools have limited session lengths for recording.
It is of course possible to use pure pointpoint plus audio recording for video over (using built-in powerpoint "Record narration function") but you can also use software like Breeze powered by Adobe Presenter (now replaced by full webconferencing Acrobat Connect Pro). These are basically software designed around a certain type of presentation typically powerpoint slides rather then recording everything on your desktop.
Compared to desktop screenrecording this can be more "professional" because your screen/desktop is often cluttered with a lot of additional irrelevant items.
- Audio support (Some of the basic versions only allow the main presenter to speak)
- Support of webcams overlaying main content (slides/videos/documents etc)
- Screensharing (presenter only or anyone, control of desktop etc)
- Other interactive options e.g Whiteboards, annotation sharing options etc.
- Supports viewing on mobile
The key thing about such tools is that they should be as easy to use as possible. Ideally all you need to do is to give out a url for users to click and it starts to run on their browser with as little additional installation as possible.
Would be interested in librarians experiences with Kiosk-like systems, do users use it? Or is it too troublesome compared to the ease of opening one's mouth to ask a real life librarian standing in front of you?