E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

Screencasts

Screencasting of Tacit Knowledge

In the past, and for a good number of weblog posts, I have been talking over here about the importance of Tacit Knowledge in the coming back of Knowledge Management thanks, amongst other things, to the emergence of social software that helps boost collaboration and knowledge sharing in multiple different scenarios. For a number of years we have been having perhaps a bit too much focus on the Explicit Knowledge exchange where knowledge workers were more than  anything else encouraged to share their best of breed Intellectual Capital in whatever the designated repository without placing too much emphasis on the tacit knowledge exchange.

However, and like I have already mentioned above, with the emergence of social software there seems to be now a more balanced approach where Knowledge Management is finally trying to combine both tacit and explicit knowledge exchanges and get the most out of both of them. And it is perhaps now where there seems to be a bit more focus on the tacit exchange piece since it needs to do some serious catch-up. At least, initially.

One of the most powerful options to try to deliver on that particular know-how of knowledge and information is actually one of my favourite social software concepts that I have been advocating myself for quite some time now. And that is the phenomenon of screencasting. Screencasting, to keep it short, "is a digital recording of computer screen output, often containing audio narration" and if there is a person out there who is an expert on the subject is actually the guy who invented the term a couple of years back in the first place: Jon Udell.

So that is why I was quite excited when a few weeks back he actually created a weblog post titled Screencasting of Tacit Knowledge, where he actually advocated with a concrete example how screencasts can be really helpful tools to deliver much more than just explicit knowledge. That know-how put together at the service of showing someone, with both audio and video, how to perform a particular task and then learn from it right away is perhaps one of the most powerful methods for knowledge sharing, collaboration and learning by doing (Informal Learning). And this is perhaps one of the main reasons why more and more learning activities are getting delivered with the help of screencasts as they can certainly be very beneficial and very handy to deliver very powerful messages.

By now you are probably wondering which one would be my preferred method of producing screencasts, right? And I must say that after having tried out a  number of different tools like Wink or CamStudio (Both of them very good options as well and worth while checking, in case you are looking for more options out there) and reading further on a number of different great reviews my preferred method for creating a screencast is actually Camtasia, which funny enough in the last few days there has been a new major release put together, v 4.0, that comes packed with an incredible set of new features that will make it a delight for everyone to try it out.

I have now upgraded my v. 3.x license and got my hands on a copy of v.4 (Yes, I know it is not cheap. But you would have to think how much money you would be saving for the different tasks you are planning to use it for. Yes, indeed, it would become a rather cheap license and worth while the money. And big time!). I must say that I impressed. Very impressed. Specially with the good amount of social software related features put together in this particular last major release. They even launched a new service with it called Screencast where you can host your own screencasts at a reasonable cost and then share them with everyone else out there. Pretty an interesting option, for sure, specially if you do not have the means to store them online elsewhere yourself.

I guess I could go on and on and on regarding how good Camtasia actually is, but I guess I will just leave it over there for the time being and encourage you to check out Jon’s weblog post on how tacit knowledge can benefit a huge deal from something so relatively simple as a screencast. As time goes by I will go ahead and share with you a couple of my favourite features thus far and perhaps also create a couple of screencasts and show you by doing how effective they can well be. We shall see how that goes.

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Screen Sharing Tools and Technology – A Mini Guide

Not long ago I created a weblog post over at elsua @ ITtoolbox where I was actually sharing my views and thoughts about one very impressive social software offering to be able to conduct online e-meetings effectively in order to share your knowledge with others and collaborate further much more efficiently. And all of that free of charge. That particular application is called View 2.0 and the actual review I provided back then could still be very much accurate since that latest release. However, and although I can certainly recommend you try out Vyew at any given point in time, I have also bumped into another fantastic resource around the world of e-meetings and screen sharing that I just thought I couldn’t let it go pass by just like that.

The weblog post actually comes from Robin Good‘s Online Collaboration and Web Conferencing Breaking News – Kolabora.com and it was originally posted by Livia Iacolare. It is titled Screen Sharing Tools and Technology: A Mini-Guide and in it you would be able to find, perhaps, one of the most comprehensive and useful resources regarding the world of e-meetings and screen sharing tools. Because that is just exactly what that weblog post is all about: a review of 21 different screen sharing applications currently available out there that would allow you to host some very good online e-meetings. Yes, indeed, you read it right: 21 options ! Just awesome!

But that is not all of it because on that same weblog post, and specially for those folks who may not be familiar with what screen sharing is all about, there is also an entire section dedicated to clarify some of the myths behind screen sharing along with a compilation of the typical features of screen sharing. Indeed, quite an impressive resource and of those weblog posts that would keep you busy for a number of weeks trying out all of the different applications! Even after reading through Livia’s account of the most important options out there.

Thus if you feel you would have plenty of time to try them all out I can certainly suggest you give it a try and see how many you may have covered already and which ones you may want to try out at some other point in time. I have been exposed already to a good number of them, and I guess that I will actually be commenting on the ones that I have found incredibly resourceful and successful as time goes through. So stay tuned, because, yes!, there is still some more to come. But for the time being just head over to Screen Sharing Tools and Technology – A Mini Guide and get ready for some serious reading and some further involvement with some of those tools, because I bet that you would be getting exposed to more than one as time goes by. In one way or another.

Oh, if you go ahead and do that, don’t forget to weblog about it / them and let us know what you think. Perhaps we could compile a listing of reviews of the different tools and provide some first hand experiences on how to work with them to add further up on what Livia has put together already. But I guess that would be the subject for a good number of future posts. So, one step at a time, I would think, right?

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The Business Case for Enterprise Blogs – It Is Still (Personal) Knowledge Management

If earlier on today I created a weblog post about the level of accuracy from a news article on weblogging created over a year ago, here you have got another different example that proves the point that some times when you bump into really good content it doesn’t really matter how long ago it was created. It would still be very valid and could just fit in quite nicely in the current business environment. This is exactly what happens with a YouTube video put together by Rod Boothby some time ago that very clearly puts together, in under 17 minutes, an impressive and compelling business case for Enterprise Weblogs.

You can go ahead and watch the video over here:

In it you would be able to see how Rod states that enterprise weblogs are powerful enablers for (key) innovators to go out there and reach out through multiple conversations that would allow them to keep collaborating and innovating constantly with other knowledge workers.

At the same time, and while you get to dive into the more in-depth presentation, you would be able to see how he actually gets to build that business case by focusing on some real examples of what is going on at the moment out there on the Internet with examples like Apple, Google, wisdom of crowds, etc. Also you would see how one of the strongest points from Rod in that particular video is how to empower all enterprise employees into a single strategic objective: Constant Innovation.

From there onwards he finally explains how to actually tackle constant innovation through innovation creators and he actually manages, quite successfully I should add, to describe how they would operate as a team / community, or whatever the grouping, by allowing them to build up different relationships and establishing different informal networks where they could get to share their knowledge and collaborate further with other knowledge workers.

However, what I found most interesting about his business case is that towards half way through the video he is actually indicating how innovation creators do need better communication tools and not Knowledge Management. WOW! That was a strong statement, indeed ! Specially when later on he keeps on talking further about weblogs, which we all know are part of the social networking or the social software hype going on at the moment, that, in its own right, I am not sure what you would think about it, is Knowledge Management. And very much so.

Perhaps the focus might no longer on the explicit knowledge exchange, which is what, for instance, his example on Office products would be like, but rather on tacit knowledge exchange, which is what weblogs help enable big time! Yes, indeed, weblogs are powerful communication tools but not just that. I would go a bit further with that notion and indicate how they are also powerful knowledge sharing and collaborative tools going beyond the point of just communication, which is what e-mail and IM have done all along thus far. There is a difference, in my opinion, and why weblogs would still be part of what Knowledge Management is all about. Perhaps even more so with the so-called Personal Knowledge Management, where weblogs are perhaps one of its main examples that people keep relating to over and over again. Empowering knowledge workers to be able to manage their knowledge in a space where they are the ones in control of the knowledge sharing flow and how they would collaborate with others.

Either way, for the rest I have thoroughly enjoyed the video itself as I feel it does make for a good and compelling business case for enterprise weblogs and, best of all, are the last few minutes of the video where you can see some extended hints and tips on how to get things going, just in case you may be contemplating doing something similar, and what items you would need to incorporate and which ones you would need to forget. A good show, for sure. Highly recommended for those who may still be a bit skeptical about weblogs in the enterprise. I am sure they would change their mind after watching the video.

Link via A YouTube business Model in the Enterprise (Another interesting reading on the business value behind video for the enterprise)

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Top Ten Tips for Creating Effective Screencasts

If you remember, back in January I created a weblog post regarding how good screencasts are to augment instruction and knowledge sharing, specially when you would need to conduct demos or show people about a new tool, a new process, whatever, you name it. Having the possibility of not just listening but also viewing something on your computer screen is perhaps having the best of both worlds, both audio and video. And specially for visual learners it is a must-have, I would imagine.

Back then I mentioned how for quite some time now I have been trying quite a few options till I actually found the one that I am sticking around with till now (Oh, by the way, did you know that there is a new version of Wink, v.2.0, with a whole bunch of new features, including audio? Worth while a try for sure). And that would be TechSmith Camtasia Studio. Well, just this morning, and while going through my daily RSS feed reading, I bumped into this particular item by Bill Myers Online that I am sure you would also find very beneficial: Top Ten Tips for Creating Effective Screencasts.

Indeed, even though I have been using Camtasia Studio for some time now after going through those Top 10 tips I actually got to learn a trick or two that I was not aware of and that I am sure that they would help me get better and better at doing screencasts. Thus I just had to weblog about it so that I would not forget about them and could then apply them right away in my next screencast shows.

Just in case you may not have time to watch the actual screencast Bill Myers Online has put together on the subject, or to read the actual ten tips here you have got a teaser description of all of them to give you a quick overview of what they are. At the same time this would also help me keep track of them and remind me of trying to do better and much more effective screencasts and with these tips I am surely going on the right track. Thus here they go:

Top Ten Tips for Effective ScreenCasts:

  1. Start with Camtasia Studio: indeed, my favourite tool so far from all the ones I have tried so far.
  2. Use a USB digital microphone.
  3. Position the microphone to prevent popping.
  4. Use an enhanced cursor.
  5. Close unneeded programs.
  6. Set the size of the stage.
  7. Do a trial run.
  8. Plan to make mistakes.
  9. Edit ruthlessly.
  10. Publish to flash.

Good stuff, indeed ! A big thanks from here to Bill for sharing these tips with us and help us get the message across that screencasting can certainly be very helpful while trying to promote eLearning, collaboration and knowledge sharing within any organisation.

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Free iPod Video Converter – Take Your Learning with You Wherever You May Go!

It has been a little while since I have last weblogged about some interesting knowledge, collaboration and productivity tools, specially those who may help increase our knowledge skills, so I thought I would just share with you a nice tool I bumped into earlier on today thanks to one of my colleagues, Stefano. We had a conversation earlier on where he mentioned how he has been watching some of the different screencasts that I get to publish internally on a daily basis where I mainly focus on introducing people to knowledge and collaboration tools and he was suggesting if I could share those screencasts in .AVI format as opposed to making them available as streaming video.

At the beginning I was a bit curious about why he would want to have in AVI format all of the screencasts that I have been creating and then he just shared with me this gem: Free iPod Video Converter. What an incredible piece of freeware, folks! Stefano explained to me how he managed to get an .AVI file from one of the screencasts I did in the recent past and how he converted it, in some very easy steps, into an .MP4 format that could then be used in the video iPod and played right away. WOW! Fantastic !

Now, imagine this. Some time ago I created a weblog post where I was mentioning how powerful screencasting is in augmenting instruction; so think if all those screencasts could then be converted into an .MP4 format for the video iPod and converted thanks to the Free iPod Video Converter. People now would be able to take that learning with them while they are travelling, commuting, on the road, while working remotely disconnected, you name it. And still be able to shape up their skills in whatever the tool by making use of those converted screencasts and their iPods. Really nice !

I guess that with the opportunity to take those screencasts with you wherever you may go you would have the opportunity to improve your knowledge skills in whatever the learning activity in such a way that you would now then define the pace, length of study along with the time invested without having to depend on a network connection or being closed to a computer. Now you can take your potentially favourite media player and while you are enjoying it learn something in the process.

I do not have a video iPod yet, but if I ever get my hands on one of them I know exactly what I will be doing with it. Take my favourite learning screencasts with me and digest them at my own pace, at my own convenience. How effective would that method of learning and knowledge sharing be? I bet that perhaps quite a lot actually based on a new factor introduced with the usage of the iPod: The fun factor. Perhaps one of the most powerful ways of learning currently available. Don’t you think ?

So if you would want to give it a try just go ahead and download Free iPod Video Converter and start converting all those videos you have been piling up in your computer and that you didn’t have enough time for to go through them! You will now be able to change that with such a handy piece of freeware. I tell you. Fantastic find ! Thanks, Stefano !

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Using Screencasts to Augment Instruction

Another interesting weblog post that I have found on my RSS feeds for today has been the one that Phil Windley has shared over at Phil Windley’s Technometria regarding the subject of using screencasts as a very powerful way to augment instruction. And I just couldn’t have agreed with him more on this very same subject.

Having been involved myself with providing different education sessions on different topics and tools regarding KM and Communities of Practice during the course of 2005, and most probably during 2006 as well, I can certainly agree that screencasts are very powerful means of delivering content and education, specially to remote, distributed and virtual teams. There are plenty of reasons and benefits as to why screencasts are very powerful while conducting different education events but I am just going to mention five reasons why they have been very beneficial to me thus far:

  • Ability to record education session for later replay so that people who may not have been able to attend the education session at the time are able to listen to the original event without missing out on the audio and video of the event. And they can do that at their own leisure, while at work. Yes, indeed, what you would called informal learning.
  • Ability to save time and effort by not having to repeat the same education session with others over and over again and during whatever the period of time. In here I think I could also include the good amount of costs saved by not having to arrange multiple conference calls or even arrange face to face events to conduct those sessions or even reserve whatever the web meeting room I may have thought about scheduling ahead of time.
  • Ability to improve the amount of online resources for specific learning courses or tutorials. That way there is a growing amount of learning material that could be used extensively to increase the number of intellectual capital available for whatever the business and dealing with whatever the topic.
  • Ease of use for wider distribution through the usage of media files, Flash or whatever other web format where in most cases people would just need to have a browser or their favourite multimedia player. Indeed, in this case there is no longer a need to have expensive software running in your computer in order to attend those events. In most cases now you would just need to have a browser or a media player so that you can view the modules with just a single click.
  • Easy to create, edit and produce for later distribution and without hardly any intervention from the presenter in order to share the results with the audience. This is probably one of my favourite benefits since in most cases it would require very little technical knowledge to produce your own screencast and off it goes. Available to everyone.

So as you can see screencasts are certainly one of the most productive ways of getting virtual teams to enjoy different education events without having to worry about anything else than just getting the participants to make use of their favourite browser or media player and with no additional costs involved. By now though you may be wondering about what are my favourite tools to create screencasts and over the last couple of years I have developed an inclination for three of them:

If you are looking for a more comprehensive listing of different tools available for creating screencasts you could also check out the link best screencasting tools where you can find a very good listing with a good number of reviews as well for each of them and many more.

Thus next time you are thinking about delivering a course for an education event, you may want to have a look into the option of creating a screencast with it so that other folks may be able to benefit from it at the same time that you have got a good and inexpensive audio and video recording of the session itself. You may want to have a look into any of the different options mentioned above or the listing from the link I talked about earlier on. You will see that they would be a very successful and effective way of letting your education events sink in with your audience and remain there for later reuse.

[tags]Screencast, Wink, Camtasia, CamStudio, Learning, eLearning[/tags]

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