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Training on a budget: 5 steps to making an online tutorial

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You need to show supervisors how your new online time sheet system works, but you're having a hard time getting everyone together for face-to-face training. Ditch the calendar tag routine (and the conference room) and make your own training video.

A new web-based, free service makes it easy.

Screencast-o-Matic is an online tool that lets you create a video from your computer screen (your “screencast”) and upload it to share. All you do is start recording, perform each step on your screen, narrating through the entire thing, then stop the recording. You don’t even have to download anything to start using it.

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The end product is a video you can share by YouTube, e-mail or on the Screencast-o-Matic site.

Note: Before you begin, make sure you have a microphone on your computer.

Step 1: Choose what size you want the finished video. If you’re exporting to a movie file, use “Full screen.” But if you’re going to upload the video to YouTube, opt for “HD size.”

Step 2: Select your audio. Opt for “no audio,” if you don’t have a microphone, or select the microphone that has been detected on your computer. Hit “Go.”

Step 3: You’ll see a frame appear on screen, which you drag to capture the area you want to record. You can always adjust it later, as you’re recording.

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Step 4: Hit record. You can pause at any point. If you make a mistake or want to record over something, hit pause, drag the timeline cursor to the point where you want to start over, then hit record.

Keep your video under 15 minutes, if you’re making an MP4 format movie. If you plan to export it to YouTube, keep your video under 10 minutes, which is the maximum allowed by that site.

Step 5: You’re done. The site then tells you your options: export the video as a movie, upload it to YouTube, or upload it to Screencast-o-Matic.

If you upload your video to a web site, you can choose to make it private, so it won’t come up in searches. You get the URL to send directly to the people with whom you want to share the link. 

With 59 Technology Tips, you and your team will learn how to:
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  • Supercharge your computer with ingenious shortcuts for faster surfing, keeping spyware at bay and making favorite Web sites easier to find.
  • Send actual screen shots instead of emailing links to web pages – it’s faster than clicking through!
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  • Make your cell phone work like a BlackBerry — with free services.
  • Master the polling technique that finds a meeting time for many different people … with just one email.
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