Using screencasts to transfer organizational knowledge

Screencasting is usually viewed by libraries as an innovative tool to teach patrons how to use the library’s services. What if rather than instruct patrons, screencasts were used by an outgoing employee to explain their work and train their replacement in absentia?

This Friday I will depart the University of Michigan Taubman Health Sciences Library for a new position. I’ve done a lot of work on the Plain Language Medical Dictionary iPhone app. I know a lot about the inner workings of this project. With limited time I couldn’t write a manual of everything that I know with screenshots. Instead, I’ve chosen to create a series of screencasts where I informally explain how to install the developer tools, update the app and submit the changes to the App Store.

I captured a one minute excerpt of one of my screencasts so you can see what I’m doing.

Rather than being one to many, this is a one to one screencast. It’s meant to be viewed by the future graduate student assistant that will replace me. I speak and use the computer as if the person were sitting next to me. I didn’t write a script or cater to a general audience. For the sophisticated and highly technical tasks of updating and maintaining the Plain Language Medical Dictionary, there is probably no better way to transfer my knowledge. Written manuals are dense and time consuming to read and write. After 30 minutes of watching the series of ~5 minute screencasts that I created, the future employee will have a sufficient orientation to continue my work.

While training an employee in person is probably the best way to communicate and transfer organizational knowledge, for situations where an outgoing employee worked alone, screencasting is a wonderful way to ensure the smooth transition and continuation of special library projects.

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