Difficulty scale (in terms of creation and students support): varies from LOW to HIGH depending on the format choice.


Why would I want to deliver this type of material online?

In blended courses, delivering software and web tutorials online reduces the amount of time spent in class allowing more face-to-face class time to be spent in small group activities or discussion.  In addition, online tutorials provide students 24/7 access to materials for just-in-time training and support.  This type of access can reduce instructor workload since it alleviates the need to repeat instructions which were otherwise delivered face-to-face.

Screen captured video tutorials with narration can help instructors highlight difficult or important aspects of the procedure.  Screen captured video can clarify the location of tools and buttons making it easy for students to learn the necessary steps quickly.


What are the most common formats?

Software demonstrations are commonly delivered in the following two ways:

  1. Text + image

These tutorials are usually documents that contain images of the computer screen (screen shots) with text directions.  They are best used when the procedure is lengthy or when students need a quick review of the steps.  In addition, some students (especially less tech savvy student) prefer to print the instructions and follow along step-by-step.

  1. Audio + motion

These tutorials are usually screen captures.  They are best used when the steps are complicated or the interface is confusing.  Some students learn quickly from video demonstrations and can manage the process intuitively after a brief viewing.

Below is a diagram showing a variety of formats digital content.  Items on the left side of scale are easiest to create, deliver, and support in the online environment.  Items on the right side of the scale are the most difficult.  When choosing which format to use when creating online presentations, use the lowest technology that will fit your needs.  For more information, see the presentation “Overview of Content Delivery in the Online Environment.”



 What are the important considerations for this type of digital content


As with all digital content, accessibility is an important consideration.  Whenever possible it is essential that video materials be made accessible to students with disabilities.

Screen captured videos can be made accessible to hearing impaired students by:

  1. Captioning the screen captured videos
  2. Supplying text and image-based tutorials


At this point captioning is still a costly and time consuming process.  As technology advances, we should see easier, more cost effective tools for creating and distributing captioning. The most practical option for making video screen capture videos accessible is to create a script before you record your presentation.  With some investment of time, these scripts can also be timed to your video using Camtasia Studio creating text captions that are visible within the frame of the presentation.

If you have students in your class currently in need of captions, you can request assistance through UWM’s Student Accessibility Center.

Transcription services:

Transcripts can be procured through paid services.  UW-System has a contract with Automatic Sync Technologies (http://www.automaticsync.com/captionsync/) and 3Play Media (http://www.3playmedia.com/) to provide transcription services at a reduced cost.  Depending on your choice for distribution, these transcripts can be integrated with your screen captured video to provide captions.  For more information on these providers, please contact the LTC.

Text and image-based tutorials:

If you plan to screen capture a software tutorial, it is strongly recommended that you create a text-based script before you record your narration.  Not only does this make the recording process easier (you will make fewer mistakes that need to be re-recorded) this script can be use to create captions or text and image based tutorial.

In addition to students with disabilities, text and image-based tutorials are also useful for students who wish to read material rather than watch it.  These students may prefer text/image tutorials because they can be printed, allowing students to follow along step-by-step.  In addition, text/image tutorials are often easier to review than time-based presentations which are more difficult to navigate when looking for a specific piece of information.

PDF documents created in MS Word:

Text and image-based tutorials should be readable by screen readers.  This means that the tutorial should have accompanying text that has identifiable characters.  You can ensure that your presentation has readable text through one of the following methods.

If you used Microsoft Word 2007 (or Mac OSX) to create a text/image tutorial, the document can be saved to PDF format.  Screen readers should be able to read text that was originally created in MS Word.

Voice recognition software:

While not as common as scripts, it is possible to record your narration and then use voice recognition software to create a transcript.  After “training” the software for your voice, you can import an audio file and software, like Dragon NaturallySpeaking will create a text transcript.  The resulting document contains text ONLY, you will need to add punctuation and paragraph markers.  You can improve the accuracy of word recognition by training for discipline-specific or problematic words and re-importing the audio files again.

With some work, word recognition accuracy can be as high as 90%.  However, the time required for the initial setup is only justified if you have a significant amount of pre-recorded files to transcribe.  For presentations that have not yet been recorded, most feel that creating a script in advance of the recording is the fastest and easiest way to create a text transcript.


What software will I need?

To make a screenshot image:

In order to take screen shots of your computer screen, you will need specialized software.  While there are a number of options available, here are a few popular and reliable choices:

My Media Screen Recorder tool in D2L is available through the Insert Stuff button in the HTML Editor in a wide variety of D2L tools; for example, Content, News, Dropbox, Quizzes, and Discussions.  This tool is simple to use and has a very streamlined workflow.  The disadvantage is that recordings cannot be edited after they are created.

Jing is a free piece of software that will allow you to select and capture anything you see on your computer screen as an image.  After you capture the image, you can add text, arrows, circles, or highlighting.  The edited image can be saved to your computer and inserted into MS Word where you can add the accompanying text instructions.

SnagIt is the paid version of Jing, made by the same company, TechSmith.  SnagIt offers more advanced editing tools and options; it included an editor which can be used on past screen shots or other images.

ScreenSteps is a handy piece of inexpensive software that provides screen capture and image editing tools similar to SnagIt.  It also makes creating the text tutorial information very simple.  Once completed, the tutorial can be exported as an HTML document and uploaded directly to D2L, where it lives as a web page rather than a PDF making it very accessible for online viewing.

To create text and image-based tutorials:

You can compile screen captured images and the accompanying text instructions into a text and image based tutorials using MS Word.  Once created, these tutorials can be saved in PDF format (Microsoft Word 2007 or Mac OSX or later) for delivery on D2L.  MS Word and Adobe Acrobat Professional can be purchased through WISC – Wisconsin Integrated Software Catalog http://wiscsoftware.wisc.edu/wisc/

Information on the process of creating PDFs with text-based notes and PowerPoint slides can be found below in tutorials and training.

To make a screen capture video:

There are several considerations for screen captured video material.

  • Does the video needs to be edited or can be recorded and distributed in one session.
  • Is it necessary to call attention to specific parts or details on the screen.
  • How will you distribute your screen captured video.

SnagIt will also make screen captured videos, in addition to image screen shots.  This tool is useful for quick tutorials or just-in-time training for students due to the fact that videos created in SnagIt must be exported to Camtasia Studio in order to edit them.

Camtasia Studio is made by the same company as SnagIt, TechSmith.  This is a richly featured tool for creating and editing screen captured video.  One of the advantages of Camtasia Studion is that you are able to zoom to enlarge important details in your video.

SnagIt and Camtasia Studio can be purchased at an educational discount directly through Techsmith: http://www.techsmith.com/volume-license-education.html

To distribute the video captures:

One of the biggest challenges when using video in the online environment is distributing video successfully over the web.  In recent years this has become easier with the introduction of streaming media services like YouTube, for example.

One of the advantages of using TechSmith products (SnagIt or Camtasia Studio) is that you can upload your material to a server provided by TechSmith called ScreenCast.  Once uploaded to ScreenCast, the video can be linked to your D2L course using embed code (supplied by ScreenCast) and the [Insert Stuff] feature in D2L’s content editor.


What hardware or additional tools will I need?

It is highly recommended that you use microphone headset for recording your voice.  This will assure that the microphone remains at a fixed distance, creating a consistent volume level throughout the recording process.  We suggest the Logitech® Stereo Headset H390: http://bit.ly/p670G3  However, any noise-cancelling, USB-connected microphone headset should suffice.


What training or tutorials will I need?

This tutorial will help you create a screen capture using the My Media Screen Recorder tool in D2L: http://uwmltc.org/?p=10682

Please request training from the LTC for:

  • Taking screenshot image (using Jing, SnagIt, or ScreenSteps)
  • Creating text and image-based tutorials
  • Or making screen capture videos (using SnagIt or Camatasia Studio)
  • Displaying screen captured video using embed code and D2L’s Insert Stuff.

Check our blog as you begin creating your online content (http://uwmltc.org/).  We are in the process of creating online tutorials for many of these procedures.  In the meantime, please contact the LTC (ltc@uwm.edu) for one-on-one consultation and training for these tools!