eLearning and screencasts, in particular, seem to be all the rage to the point they are even replacing online documentation for some technology vendors. This development raises my Irish a bit because I never think buzzwords and fads should substitute for real support documentation.
While screen casts are great to augment online documentation and customer support sites
Here are 5 reasons screencasts annoy me.
- Screencasts have a slow pace. I am a fast reader. Narrators in many screencasts speak way too slowly for me. When I need to learn something, I am more apt to pick up a book versus going to a class making screencasts a nuisance to me.
- Screencasts aren’t troubleshooting tools (for me at least). I mostly learn by doing. It was the way I was taught to learn new software. If I am consulting technical documentation, it means I’ve run into a problem and get around it with my usual bag of tricks. Screencasts only serve to aggravate me at this point especially if I need to run through procedures multiple times to get something to work properly.
- Screencasts aren’t reference material. For a lot of the apps I regularly use, documentation is for reference. Screencasts just don’t fit my needs for reference material.
- Narrator voices in screencasts. I’ve heard some utterly dreadful narrator voices in some screencasts in the past. On the hunt to find a neutral voice, too often the narrator’s voice is distracting to me.
- Screencasts are too much like a classroom. At this point in my career, I can still measure my formal classroom learning post college to be regarding hours, not days or weeks. I learn better from books and trying out a new system not by watching a movie on my PC monitor.
Screencasts are still shiny and new, and heir apparent to instructor led training for some organizations due to budget cuts and the economy in general. However, the same isn’t true for technical documentation. Software demos maybe. Technical documentation No.
For me at least, screencasts seem much more suited for sales, marketing, and thought leadership content versus carrying the bulk of needed technical content.
Don’t even ask me about my full feelings on eLearning…