What might be the benefits and drawbacks in using podcasting, online video, screencasting or slidecasting to support patrons/ stakeholders in regional areas?
Regional areas are characterised by being remote from central, metropolitan areas where information services and associated support are readily available. This type of aid in highly populated areas, such as major cities, includes human, physical and electronic support. The means of communication that include podcasting, online video, screencasting and slidecasting can have a positive and negative impact upon individuals and groups in regional areas.
The potential positive aspects include the mode of communication available based upon the features of their multi-modal style. For example, an online video, screencasting and slidecasting contain both a visual and auditory component. In particular screen casting, which “captures” the actions and movements on a computer monitor, like the movement of a pointer provides a way to watch a process being completed (Educause, 2006, p. 1). For example, if wanting to explain a process, such as reserving a title on a library catalogue, it mimics what you would see if overlooking the screen of the assistant of a information service.
In the context of an education information service, it in turn provides supportive resources that aim to create an electronic learning interaction similar to what is experienced between the teacher and their students in a classroom (Educause, 2010, p. 1). The immediacy of these items in an online environment is also a positive factor in the delivery of information services. For instance, technology developments have allowed screencasting in a “live” mode which further supports collaboration in an electronic environment (Educause, 2010).
However, barriers can be presented if the video, podcast or screen or slide cast cannot be received easily. In regional areas, there are limitations in regards to mobile and internet reception. These aspects are generally being remedied by Government programs and developments to improve network communication (Educause, 2010, p. 1). One example is the ‘National Communications Fund’ to support broadband services which was established in 2002 (Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, 2008).
As a one-way mode of communication when not “live”, it does not really facilitate discussion through questions, but rather supports information flow, such as in a podcast. Each podcast and video in addition assumes that it is suitable for the general user who would retrieve this information (Educause, 2006). This can be problematic because if it is not designed for the user properly it does not support understanding.
If used as a form of communication, not dissimilar to emailing, it can be of greater benefit. An important consideration of this however is the affective self of the parties involved. For example, providing an auditory or multi-modal item it can either improve the openness of communication or encourage confidence, or it may not be suitable as it could cause anxiety.
Therefore, the advantages and disadvantages of using these forms for communication, whether for patrons or stakeholders, lie in incorporating thought into their design. Generally, the advance of technology which can reach those in remote and rural areas can greatly support information services and also facilitate the user.
Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts. (2008). B.1 – Australian Government communications programs for rural and regional areas. Retrieved September 12, 2013, from http://www.archive.dcita.gov.au/2006/06/networking_the_nation/evaluation_of_networking_the_nation/attachments_to_the_evaluation_of_outcomes_and_impacts/attachment_b_-_other_australian_government_and_state_government_programs_targeting_communications_needs_in_regional_australia/b.1_-_australian_government_communications_programs_for_rural_and_regional_areas
Educause. (2006). 7 things you should know about… screencasting. Retrieved September 10, 2013, from http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7012.pdf
Educause. (2010). 7 things you should know about… next-generation presentation tools. Retrieved September 10, 2013, from http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7056.pdf