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YouTube As an FAQ Platform?
June 1, 2010 - 9:56pm

We make tons of screencasts for our FAQ pages. Voice-over screencasts are great ways to show people how to accomplish tasks in the LMS, on the Web, or in specialized applications. A movie is no substitute for good step-by-step directions, as many people would prefer to have the steps written out for them to follow. But as screencasting is much faster, and in these days of unlimited demands and limited time, having a screencast available is better than not having anything. (The gold standard is to have both a screencast and step-by-step instructions).

The question is where should these screencasts live? The most common practice is to put links to the screencast movies on a dedicated support page that is linked off of the LMS or academic technology pages. These pages are almost always open to non-institutional users (do not require authentication), and are sometimes findable by Googling.

I'm wondering if it makes sense to publish "help" screencasts to YouTube? Maybe preserve the links on the FAQ page, but have them point to YouTube as opposed to local media servers. You can see an example of what this would look like for this quick screencast I did on using Flickr to find Creative Commons images for presentations.

The advantages of using YouTube as an FAQ publishing platform:

--Many screencasting tools now offer one-button uploads to YouTube, so publishing is very easy. I used Screenflow to create the above presentation.

--YouTube is in the video serving business, so the screencasts look good and can be viewed on multiple platforms and devices.

--YouTube automatically creates embed code, making it very easy to place the screencast on multiple pages, including in discussion boards or blog areas of an LMS.

--Placing "help" screencasts on YouTube contributes to the larger commons of free and openly accessible educational material. If all of us start to share our screencasts than we will be able to draw from a library of shared content, reducing the need to always create our own.

--It is probably a good thing to get our institutions work out into the world of social media, even if it is simple screencasts showing how to accomplish educational tasks.

The disadvantages of using YouTube as an FAQ publishing platform:

--It is not clear where on YouTube to place "help" screencasts. Should the files be loaded on to personal accounts, or on to an "official" institutional or departmental channel?

--Who will curate screencasts once they are up on YouTube? These screencasts quickly go out of date as the technology and platforms change. Should the old ones be taken down, or should the links referring to them be removed?

--Do we really feel confident in relying on YouTube to be our media platform for (possibly) critical help files?

What do you think? Are you starting to rely on YouTube (or other commercial platforms) as your publishing destination for campus generated content?


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