Monday, November 2, 2009

COETAIL Course 3, Reflection: Final Project

Here is my final project, a screencast explaining some ways to think about formatting a document using styles.

The goal of this project for me was to produce a stand-alone presentation that could be used by HS English teachers to give guidance on efficient formatting functions, particularly in MS Word. Firstly I checked in with the department head to identify a unit during which they might want to use such a presentation. After identifying research papers as a good candidate I obtained the formatting sample that the students receive. I used it to identify a subset of commonly overlooked, but useful functionality available in MS Word and other word processing and layout applications. I chose screencasting as the delivery mechanism.

I did a bit of experimentation with screencasting software to get comfortable with it. As I planned my screencast I tried to think of the audience. In my experience it can be difficult to persuade people to do things differently in familiar programs. I identified fear of an unproductive learning curve, as in spending 15 min learning something that only saves 5 minutes work, as the main obstacle.

Initially I approached it almost like an infomercial, trying to be convincing. I also spent way too long rehearsing and fighting with Word trying to get it to behave consistently. The screencast was becoming very long, detailed and boring.

I reread presenting naked for some inspiration and completely revamped the majority of the video. Making the lessons more general and being honest about the difficulties involved really helped my message.

I am looking forward to feedback from the English department.

1 comment:

Jeff Utecht said...

Great Work John! Good use of the tool. What did you use to make the screen capture. Looks to be higher quality than say jing or notebook recorder. I use ScreenFlow on the mac and love it!