Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Online Tools to Enhance Instruction and Reference

Just a quick note to mention that I've been trying to settle down in using a handful of tools to extend the reach of content I create for reference and instruction purposes.


I've been playing around with uploading to this site some of the handouts for course-related lectures and workshops that I have taught. Many times, after a workshop is done, a professor I've worked with has asked me for a copy of the handout so she/he can post it to the course blog or website in Blackboard. By putting the document in Scribd, I can give that professor a URL to go to and download the document from. This means I don't have to worry about sending unwieldy (and, ahem, forgotten) attachments. By using Scribd, I can also give the professor an easy way to present that handout online in a document viewer (the "Share" feature gives you embed codes for documents that let you display the document in your blog or website).

Another nice benefit of course is that I'm releasing my handout into the wild on the chance that someone outside of my college may find it useful. Feel free to browse my handouts on Scribd and reuse them (I use the Creative Commons Attribution/Non-Commercial license for any items I upload).

I've had my account on Slideshare for a while now and have mostly used it to host slide presentations that I've created for professional events (workshops for other librarians, etc.) I'm going to try using it more often for course-related workshops that I do here at Baruch, as well. The same benefits that I get from Scribd (better way to share files, network effects from putting your content out on the open web, embed codes) apply to Slideshare as well.

YouTube and Capture Fox

There are times when I'm composing an email reply for a reference question that it just seems too tedious to explain step by step how to do something in a database. Lately, I've been experimenting more often with creating on-the-fly screencasts in which I record what's on my screen and narrate as I go. For a while, I was using Screenjelly (feel free to browse my videos on Screenjelly), but in the past few weeks, I've been relying more on using Capture Fox, a Firefox addon, to record the screencast and my personal YouTube account to host it. The library at Baruch College where I work has its own YouTube account that I could theoretically use to host these screencasts; before I can start using that account, though, my colleagues and I will want to hash out the issues related to publishing video content online under the name of the library.

There are, of course, other options for creating slicker-looking screencasts than what Capture Fox or Screenjelly will allow for (my library has licenses for Captivate, for example), but I'm kind of partial to Capture Fox because it is (a) free (b) fast and (c) lightweight.


At 7:43 PM , Anonymous Chad said...

Thanks for the point to Capture Fox. I haven't seen that one yet, and I'll definitely be checking it out.


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