Survey of Multimedia Creation Software

InfoTech Tips and Trends Question:

The Emerging Technologies in Instruction Committee is interested in hearing about the multimedia creation software (such as RoboDemo, Qarbon Viewlet, Flash, etc.) you are using to create or enhance your tutorials. Please tell us what the software is, its advantages and disadvantages, and anything thing else you think may be of interest to your colleagues.


Answers from ILI-L:


Response 1:

From: Ken Burhanna

I've had a lot of experience evaluating and working with these types of tools, but let me say up front that these products are dynamic and change quickly. My review of them occurred over the last two years and some things may have changed in the last six months that I am not aware of.

Flash technology is a great solution for creating dynamic, web-based content. It creates small, easily streamed files. Flash files can be easily served from a web server, meaning that there is not the overhead of special software or hardware. Flash does require a Flash player plug-in for the viewer's browser, but this has been standard in the leading web browsers for the last few years and has become nearly ubiquitous. If by chance the user doesn't have the plug-in, it can be easily downloaded and installed in a matter of a few minutes.

The leading Flash-authoring tools seem to be Robodemo ( http://www.macromedia.com/software/robodemo/) and ViewletBuilder (by Qarbon at www.qarbon.com). Another product, Camtasia Studio ( http://www.techsmith.com/), is really a desktop recording solution with the capability of Flash file export. Camtasia is not true a Flash-authoring tool and it lacks a lot of the functionality for interactivity that Flash provides. It does provide the best quality screen captures and recordings.

Robodemo and ViewletBuilder seem very evenly matched. They both allow for:
- Several content features (text balloons, captions, highlighting, background colors and images, narration capabilities_
- Interactivity features (click zones, text entry, html linking, playback controls, quizzing with onscreen scoring) -- Robodemo additionally allows for mouse rollovers.
- Output options (Print or MS Word versions, .EXE for CD)

Both seemed to me easy to learn and use (within an hour I was developing in both), although I prefered Robodemo personally.

I think the price is right for both of these, especially with the educational discounts available.

Recently Macromedia acquired Robodemo from eHelp coporation. I see this as an extremely positive move. Macromedia is the creator of Flash technology. They would seem perfectly positioned to support an authoring tool like Robodemo and to provide opportunities for it to be integrated into the richer and more complex development environment of Flash MX. So Robodemo seems easily scaleable with Flash. But Flash requires specialized development/ programming skills. With Robodemo (if you feel fairly comfortable with computers) I think you can get started creating flash movies within hours. And also eHelp was one of my only problems with Robodemo earlier. They were difficult to work with and displayed poor customer service.

Robodemo (I think ViewletBuilder too) can also produce what is called a manifest file that can communicate data to learning management systems like WebCT. This is a great opportunity that I would like to experiment with. It would essentially allow an instructor to assign a web-based learning module with quizzing to students, and then the module would report via the manifest file that the student viewed the module and what the student's quiz results were. I stress that I have not done this level of integration and my description is that of a lay person.

I previously worked at Cleveland State University as their Instructional Design Librarian, and did most of my Flash-authoring work there. See www.ulib.csuohio.edu/help/hands-on for samples of what we created. Also, I have spoken at Internet Librarian on this topic and I have an article entitled: "Flash-Authoring Tools: New Products Make Content Developers of Librarians in a Flash" appearing in a forthcoming issue of College & Undergraduate Libraries that you might watch for,

Ken Burhanna, M.L.S.
Assistant Professor, Libraries & Media Services
First Year Experience Librarian
Kent State University
Kent, OH 44242
330-672-1660
kburhann@kent.edu

Response 2:

From: Kate Rubick

We also just got Camtasia at Lewis and Clark College. It is easy to use in most ways. The only frustrating thing is trying to record a 5-minute video without stumbling over my words... I am experimenting with their audio editing feature, but have not yet figured out how to make it work. None of our attempts are up yet either. But I do think it’s a good product overall.

Kate Rubick, Reference and Instruction Librarian Watzek Library, Lewis & Clark College
0615 SW Palatine Hill Road
Portland, OR 97219-7899
Phone at my desk: 503-768-7338
Fax: 503-768-7282
rubick@lclark.edu
library.lclark.edu

Response 3:

From: David Michels

I have recently acquired a program called Camtasia from Techsmith (the people who make Snagit). It creates movies that can be converted to a variety of media formats for use with standard flash plug-ins, Windows Media Player, Quicktime, Real Media etc. I found it easier to use than RoboDemo and cheaper for an educational license. I haven't got any of my attempts up yet but I'm optimistic.

David Michels BTh MA MLIS
Public Services Librarian
Sir James Dunn Law Library
Dalhousie University

Response 4:

From: " Bill Badke"

For quick animated tutorials, I've had terrific success with Wink, a freeware product available at http://www.debugmode.com/wink/. It creates flash tutorials (without having to learn flash) and can also reproduce the screens of the tutorials in a PDF file. Have a look at on of our Wink efforts at: http://www.acts.twu.ca/lbr/AcSePr.htm.

William Badke
Associate Librarian, Trinity Western University, for Associated Canadian Theological Schools and Information Literacy 7600 Glover Rd., Langley, BC, Canada V2Y 1Y1 Ph. (604) 888-7511, ext 3906
e-mail: badke@twu.ca
Web: http://www.twu.ca/library

Response 5:

From: Marcia Keyser

You might consider Swish, a utility that builds Flash animations. I have not used it but have heard good things about it; it is affordable, makes small files, and fairly easy to use.
http://www.swishzone.com/

Marcia Keyser
Cowles Library, Drake University

 


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