19 Sept 2021

Be a Star with Screencast: Producing Valuable Online Resources from Home for Maynooth University Library

Libfocus is very happy to post the third of the highly commended posts in the 2021 CONUL Library Assistant Awards. Congratulations to Fiona Tuohy of Maynooth University Library.

This blog post will give an insight into my experience of using Screencastomatic to create useful online resources for our students during the pandemic. As part of the Teaching and Research Development Team at Maynooth University Library, I worked with our Teaching Librarians to produce short video promoting our many resources. Without the face-to-face contact, we needed to find a way to show our users how to navigate and use our resources themselves. We decided that short How to videos showing the steps required clearly and concisely was the way forward. As we all know it’s never a good idea to jump headfirst into a project but if you keep to this checklist, you’ll save time. 


The first thing to do is ask yourself – who is my audience? What is the purpose of this video? If you are creating a video to show e.g. How to find an eBook, break down each step, each mouse click and decide then what exactly you need to show on screen. Have it clear in your mind what will be the first screen and the last screen within the video. Repeat the process but this time say out loud how you would explain each step so the user can do it themselves. 


It’s essential to write a script. Firstly, it removes the dreaded ‘ehs’ and ‘ems’ we all fall victim to when presenting in person. If it’s a collaboration with a colleague and you are doing a recording for them, a script is such a useful tool to work with. When the topic is something you’re not familiar with, it’s helpful to have a hard copy of the script beside you as you record voiceovers for that awkward word or phrasing you need to double-check (I still can’t say Digital Object Identifiers after 2pm!!). A script helps you monitor the length of the video. What started off as one 15 minute video could work better as two 7 minute videos. 

Photo by Simon Payne on Unsplash 


Line up the kid’s toys and use them as your audience! You can’t write a script, cross your fingers and hope for the best when it comes to record. Practice several times – I guarantee you’ll re-draft the script at least once. There may be a lightbulb moment during the redraft where you realise you’ve left out an important step. That’s something you want to happen at this stage rather than on completion. 

Voiceover tips Created using Canva by Fiona Tuohy 


With the continuous doorstep deliveries, outside ambience and incoming calls, recording from home can be a challenge. The beauty of Screencastomatic is you just need a headset with a mic and a quiet place. I know easier said than done for many working from home! For recording first time, there will be nerves and many outtakes but the more your confidence grows the easier it gets. Voiceover tips can provide insight into preparing for a recording. It can make a huge difference to how the final recording sounds. 

Example of MU Library branding for Screencasts 


Screencastomatic allows you to add text, highlight, add arrows even insert video. Simple ways to point out the really important information to the user and make it easy to follow. Sometimes you don’t need to record your voice at all. With short how to’s silence really is golden. I would suggest using a title page for your videos – it looks professional and users will become familiar with the branding. 

Number of views for videos within Using Library Services Playlist 


Now your video is created you need to promote it to your users. We created a new playlist called Using Library Services within our YouTube channel. But sometimes it can be difficult to promote via YouTube directly. We added the videos to our Working Remotely Guide as they were created and then promoted the guide as our one stop shop for useful resources for our users. The majority of the videos were created in Semester 1 and had consistent views up to March 2021. 

The future 

We are currently working on content for next Semester. The aim is to still use the Working Remotely Guide to connect with our user community but rename to reflect the likely hybrid learning environment in the coming academic year. We also hope to develop our Library Moodle space this year and it will be important to provide content for students to access and use to support their learning in our classes. We can also link in to course module Moodle pages and ensure our academic colleagues can easily access our learning resources for use within courses. Screencastomatic is inexpensive - $15 per year for Deluxe Solo – and reasonably easy to use. By choosing this tool you can create a suite of excellent online content to promote your library resources. 


Post a Comment