Dec
01

Gardening and Web-based Multimedia – Some Basic Tips

Filed Under (Audio, e-learning, instructional design, podcasting, Video) by Chris LaBelle on 01-12-2010 and tagged , ,

Gardening is one of our most popular topics within Cooperative Extension. In the spirit of form following function, we set out to capture some short vignettes from an expert gardener and convey the most important elements of these discussions in video, podcast, and caption-enhanced photo slide shows in a simple and easy to access format. We videotaped the interviews, worked on trimming down content and created an attractive and easy-to-use webpage that organizes the resources into appropriate categories. Before I discuss some of the lessons learned and design tips, feel free to look over the site.

http://extension.oregonstate.edu/gardening/sustainability/

Admittedly, it’s on the lower side of the complexity scale, but as mentioned, it’s mainly a collection of short stories that are formatted for online video. A few brief tips:

1. As always, think about your audience. This goes without saying and is built into any ID model. In our case, we imagined our online gardening enthusiasts swimming in an ocean of PDF files and knew they would welcome visual content that highlighted the experience of an expert in her own backyard.

2. Catchy headers, intros and titles are important. Eye tracking research on newsletter usability points out the dire need to capture reader attention in the first two words of titles and headers. A recent Jacob Nielson Alertbox provides other tips.

3. Modularize video content to ensure clips are short and compelling. Most of our video clips are under one minute and speak to a single topic. Although branded with our university logo, the style is conversational and to the point.

4. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good when you’re shooting video. Case in point, Kahn Academy…. Bill Gate’s favorite online teacher cobbled together a few hundred dollars worth of video equipment and single-handedly crafted almost 2,000 online video mini courses that are viewed upwards of 70,000 times a day. His 20 million page view count suggests he might be reaching as many “non-credit” students as several large universities.

5. Tools? We used video editing software (Final Cut Pro), Slideshow Pro (for the photos and captions), and a basic video camera with a wireless microphone.

Analytics show these online resources are popular and our low bounce rate (8%) suggests users are being pulled deeper into the site after landing on the home page. Our next step in this project is to build a virtual tour of our expert’s garden and allow users to drill down on key characteristics of the garden (water usage, light, native or non-native) based on a seasonal view.

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