This week we created a screenshot based tutorial using a tool called Clarify-It. The tool is a cross between a screenshot application like Snag-It with the editing features of WordPress. You can quickly and easily create an image-based guide with a few clicks using just this one application. We were asked to create a tutorial of some sort with the challenge of abiding by the multimedia and contiguity principles we have been learning about over the past few weeks.
I chose to develop a guide on how to use the LIFE Magazine archive hosted by Google Books. My History 1302 students complete a source analysis project by using a topic selected from this archive. The collection of magazines are really cool because you get to experience events as Americans did in the time period. However, in past experience, my students have struggled to navigate the archive which seems to dampen the “cool factor” a bit. A quick, static multimedia tutorial might be just the thing that best helps my students with this project.
My tutorial is organized in a step by step fashion mirroring the process a user would follow as they try to access and use the archive. Each page has a title with text placed above the image, meeting the multimedia principle. On images where there is lots of information or detail, step numbers with descriptions are used to help the user process the information while reducing extraneous cognitive load, thus meeting the contiguity principle. In some other sections, there is no need for text annotations so simple callouts (boxes or arrows) are used to help the user connect the text to the image.
I have quite a bit of experience creating these kinds of guides from my years working as a technology trainer. That said, I found Clarify It to be a useful but limited tool for this purpose. Clarify It made creating the guide really easy. I was able to create sections as I thought through the development of the training and add\change screenshots on the fly. I really liked the flexibility of tool overall.
A number of issues complicated the experience, however. I found that undo and redo functions I heavily rely on in Adobe and Microsoft products were not as useful in Clarify It. I ended up losing content several times until I remembered to stop using hotkeys. A second, more problematic issue relates to screenshots that required heavy text annotations or labels (ex. pages 3, 4, & 8 of the guide). Each image on these pages is almost a full screen view which becomes compressed when published – a process which makes the annotations appear tiny. I could not find a way to make the text annotations larger and still fit within the image. Unfortunately, there was no way to pull the annotations off the image and into the margins of the page, which would easily fix the situation. I could fix the issue by editing the guide in Adobe Acrobat but that defeats the point of Clarify It as a one-stop shop for quick screenshot tutorials.
Meeting the Objectives
The objectives for this assignment are AECT standards 3.1 which reads “Candidates create instructional design products based on learning principles and research-based best practices.” and AECT standard 3. 2 “Candidates make professionally sound decisions in selecting appropriate processes and resources to provide optimal conditions for learning based on principles, theories, and effective practices.”
This assignment is similar to the Sketchnote assignment in that we are being asked to create real-world educational products based on multimedia theories found in the literature, thus meeting both AECT Standards 3.1 and 3.2.