Thoughts On Video Tutorial Creation

I have spent a lot of time recently working with videos.  This past summer, I used videos extensively with my online Advanced Legal Research class, and this semester I have been putting an emphasis on starting the UF LIC’s video tutorial collection.  Getting the ball rolling on the video tutorials was not as easy as I had anticipated, however, so I thought that I would share some thoughts on the process.

1.       Have a written plan. 

I admit that I was not for this in the beginning, and I resisted it until it became an order to write one.  Overall plans and goals are fine with me, but having every detail planned out for a project is not part of my nature.  I prefer to have the flexibility to change directions when needed without slowing the process down by having to constantly update a plan or other documentation.  This works well for me when I am working on a solo project.

When others are involved, as is the case with this tutorial project, it turns out that a written plan can be very helpful.  It is helps determine priorities, improve accountability, and set realistic expectations.  While future direction changes may not occur as quickly as I would prefer, there is some flexibility built into the plan, and the benefits outweigh the cons in this case.

2.       There is more to it that recording a lesson and releasing it. 

New issues continue to crop up with the tutorials.  Some of the things that I did not immediately think about, but that have become important are:

  • Branding – Right now, we are using the law school’s template, but perhaps we should be more specific and design our own Legal Information Center template.  This needs to be decided before we create too many videos or I will be spending huge amounts of time tweaking earlier tutorials.
  • Copyright – I work for the State of Florida, which has the ability to hold copyright.  Should we use the traditional copyright protections?  What about a Creative Commons license?  One of the things that was pointed out to me is that we ought to be consistent with the policies of the other UF libraries and with our University Counsel. Thus, I have recruited the help of the UF Libraries’ Scholarly Communications Librarian.
  • Style Guides –Do you want to keep a consistent look to the tutorials? What fonts should be used for what purposes? Is there particular phrasing that you want to use regularly?
  • Tagging – Similar to style guides, it is a good thing to be consistent with your tags.  You need to decide ahead of time between things like UFLAW, UF LAW, and UF Law.
  • Tutorial themes – We are trying to create several different series of tutorials, including basic how-to tutorials, longer tutorials that may be used in a class, what is a resource in 60 seconds or less, and non-research tutorials (e.g. how to use the scanner).  I sat down with a colleague to discuss the basic tutorials one day, and by the end of our conversation, we had decided to go with a “10 steps” theme.  Other themes will probably develop for our different series.

3.       The more feedback you get, the better your tutorials will be.

This one is pretty obvious.  Everyone is proud of the work that they created, especially when it has consumed large chunks of time and taken a great deal of effort to produce.  Do not take it personally when someone else tears your work apart.  Sometimes their suggestions make your work better, and sometimes it is personal preference and either way will work. Try a second version (don’t delete your original!) and see which works better for your intended audience.

Thus far, I have sought the feedback of my UF Law colleagues, but have not solicited feedback from the larger library community, unlike some others who are working on video tutorials (e.g. Elon University School of Law put out a request for feedback on their citation tutorial collection).  Since our intended audience is our specific patrons, I do not think that this is a mistake, though more feedback may be helpful.  If you would like to see our three finalized tutorials, you are welcome to take a peek at our Vimeo Legal Research Channel.

Since video tutorials can be useful to all library types, I am curious to know who else is working on video tutorials.  Let know if you are working on video or even considering them, how it is going, and if you have any video tutorial thoughts/concerns/questions/nightmares to share!

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