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Preparing Robust Tutorials:
Three Serving Suggestions

Submitted by: Amy Blevins, MALS, Liaison/Information Services Librarian (252) 744-2229 and C.W. Elton, MS, Education Technology Consultant (252) 744-3614
Poster Design by: Jason Cottle, BFA, Graphic Designer
All from William E. Laupus Health Sciences Library, East Carolina University

Question: Our purpose was to determine best practices of creating and delivering online tutorials for optimal information accessibility to our Division of Health Sciences students learning to use library resources.
: We are an Academic Health Sciences Library which serves the School of Allied Health Sciences, the School of Nursing, and the Brody School of Medicine primarily. The enrollment as of 2005 for all these schools was 690 undergraduates and 1075 graduate students, according to ECU's 2005-2006 Fact Book.
: Using a case study methodology, PowerPoint, Mediasite, and Camtasia were used to produce online tutorials. Tutorial creating software was evaluated on four criteria: usability, accessibility, cost, and time required to create the tutorial. To evaluate usability and accessibility, we gathered feedback from our faculty and students. Librarians tested the tutorials from their home connection to see how they worked, and emails were sent out to receive feedback from different faculty members. High and low bandwidth files were provided to help determine characteristics of client side Internet connections. In addition, tutorials were viewed on a dial up connection to see how much time was needed to load the tutorial and how well the tutorial functioned on a slow connection. Cost was evaluated in terms of total cost required to obtain the software for use, and time was measured by the tutorial creator.
Main results/Conclusion: We found that in our situation, Camtasia delivered optimal results for short sessions like database instruction. For instructional situations where video and audio of the instructor, in addition to computer screen shots, can enhance learning, Mediasite would be more appropriate. Furthermore, in situations where bandwidth is low and/or budgets are tight, PowerPoint tutorials are an acceptable solution. Based on our four criteria and the responses of our patrons, Camtasia is the most suitable software for serving up tutorials to our patrons.


  • Camtasia - Screen recording software by TechSmith.
  • Mediasite™ - Software by Sonic Foundry to create multimedia webcasts.
  • PowerPoint - Microsoft product used to create presentations using slides. The screenshots for this particular tutorial were taken using SnagIt®, a screen capturing software by TechSmith

Additional Information


The survey was sent to 24 people and they were asked to pass it on. 23 responses were received (14 faculty/staff, 2 undergraduates, and 7 graduate students). To determine the usability of the tutorials, four questions were asked.

  1. Which tutorial was the easiest to use?
    results shown in Usability graph below
  2. Which tutorial do you feel was the most effective?
    results shown in Usability graph below
  3. Which tutorial was most pleasing overall?
    results shown in Usability graph below
  4. What feature(S) of the tutorial(S) helped communicate information to you most effectively?
    (NOTE: Users had the option of selecting more than one feature)

33.3% video, 57.1% mouse movements, 28.6% instructor presence, 28.6% Audio instruction only, 28.6% Interaction (having to click to advance in tutorial)

Users offered several comments to this question. Their exact comments follow:

  • "I thought the instructor presence in the media site tutorial was distracting because I just kept watching what you were doing and not really paying attention to the other part of the screen."
  • "The circles and arrows and the tutorial helped the most."
  • "Interaction of any kind is a Powerful engagement technique."
  • "The audio and visual presentations. The instructor presence was not necessary."
  • "The audio instruction was a big plus - the video really wasn't needed."
  • "I like the Camas tutorial the best. It was easiest to pay attention to. It was also the most effective because of the step-by-step 'teaching' approach. The video with the instructor in it wasn't so effective because while you should be watching the web page screen, you're watching the instructor instead."


* Based on results of a survey of students, faculty and staff of East Carolina University (primarily from the School of Allied Health Sciences and the William E. Laupus Health Sciences Library).


* Based on users with high speed connections. During testing with a 56K modem Internet connection on a computer set up with Microsoft's Windows Vista and Office 2007, we were only able to download the PowerPoint file. In addition, out of 6 attempts to download the PowerPoint file, we were only successful once.


* Cost based on users with Microsoft Office. The cost for a single user license of Microsoft Office Professional 2007 is $499.95 according to Microsoft.com. In addition, the cost listed for PowerPoint is the cost for a single user license of SnagIt®, an image capturing software. Costs are valid as of October 1, 2007.


* Time determined by the librarian creating the tutorials and the Education Technology Consultant who prepared Camtasia and Mediasite files for use on the Internet. Both are highly experienced users of the above mentioned software.