Screen toaster – helping to produce much more than a piece of toast!

I thought I would write a blog about an interesting piece of free software that I was made aware of on the Podcasting course at OUCS. I also went on the Introduction to Podcasting course although on a different day. Whilst on the course I was also told about a free piece of software called ScreenToaster ( the slightly strange name it appears to be extremely useful tool for helping readers improve their information literacy.

Through their website you can produce demonstrations on how to use anything from SOLO to renewing books remotely. Basically it uses screen capturing to allow you to precisely record every action needed to do a particular computer based task. All you have to do is register for free on their website and follow the instructions. There are also useful newsfeeds and forum messages which give some very detailed and useful information on how to make the most of Screen toaster. You will need to be precise about where you move the curser etc as it will record absolutely everything that you do whilst recording.  You can also add sound to accompany the screen movements you have captured to explain things further.

It seems to me that this could be an excellent way to help readers who are visual learners and those readers who have learning difficulties such as dyslexia more than traditional text based guides would. I think that this could then be downloaded on to multimedia mobile phones so that students could access it anytime and anywhere.

Podcasting at Oxford

On Monday I attended a session on podcasting, part of  ‘The IT Learning Programme’ (ITLP) with OUCS, so I thought I’d blog about it incase anyone was interested in attending a session in the future.  Although not a practical training course the session acts as a brilliant introduction to podcasting for anyone who is interested in finding out about how podcasts can be used as an educational resource; podcasts can be used for student outreach, to present research, to distribute a lecture series or for a series of tutorials or training materials.  I’d been doing some research into the uses of podcasting for libraries, thinking about how podcasting could be useful and what libraries could podcast on so this session certainly gave me more ideas to think about.

The course called Multimedia: Podcasting at Oxford FAQs took the form of a presentation about podcasting at Oxford University and a question and answer session.  The presentation went through key topics such as a background to podcasts, the use of podcasting by an institution such as Oxford and the practical process of producing a podcast.  The process of making a podcast was demonstrated by Steve our presenter; demonstrating the process step by step from recording sound to create an mp3 file to uploading it to a public web server and adding to a subscription system so that the mp3 could feature on a podcast portal  such as or iTunesU.  A significant amount of time was spent during the session being shown how to use sound editing software such as Audacity, a user friendly piece of open source cross-platform software which is fantastic because it’s free and will work on most operating systems.  Even though I have used Audacity before it was nice to have a refresher and pick up some useful tips about creating a professional standard podcast using the software.

OUCS run the Introduction to Podcasting throughout the year, as podcasting at Oxford is an ever increasing area of activity and in addition other courses on-screen and audio capture are available. OUCS have even created podcasts themselves about the art of podcasting so you can refresh your skills at your own desk, find the feed here.  If you are at all interested in learning about podcasting at Oxford then I recommend signing up!

Trainee Projects: Podcasting

Hello trainees!

You will probably have heard about the trainee projects – each of you will choose something to work on over the course of the year, and you’ll be asked to give a presentation about it at the end. This should hopefully be in an area that you’re interested in and that will benefit both you and your library.

As I was already interested in the digital side of libraries, and the Law Library was keen to expand on its collection of Web 2.0 resources, I decided to create a library podcast. The library web team discussed the idea in a meeting, and it was decided that I would create a podcast guide to SOLO, the library resource discovery tool.

I began by putting together a script and recording it using free audio recording/editing software called Audacity. I then put this together with screen shots and drawn images in Windows Movie Maker to create a slide-show style podcast. It’s important to make sure that none of your images breach copyright law, and you must get permission from the University press office (email: before using photos of some buildings. I showed the podcast to my supervisor and members of the web team, who made suggestions as to what I could add or change. The podcast is now ready and should hopefully be online soon, watch this space! I’m now also working on the next in the series, about OLIS OPAC and ASR.

Back in March, we had the annual Staff Conference, which this year was based on the theme of all things digital and web 2.0. Since this was right up my street, I gave a presentation with fellow trainee and podcaster, Alice Primmer (SSL) on how to put together a basic audio podcast. Here is a list of useful links we gave to the people who attended:

OUCS information on podcasting at Oxford:

Oxford University podcasts:

Access your free webspace using your SSO:

OXITEMS main page, where you can upload files onto the Oxford University RSS feed so that they will appear on UTunes:

Download free audio recording software Audacity and the LAME encoder, which will allow you to save files as MP3s:

Download free screencasting software CamStudio:

These are the highest rated directories of podcasts to subscribe to and download:

Some library podcasts to look at for inspiration:

Podcasting for business training schemes:

Best of luck this year and for anyone else who decides to attempt it, happy podcasting!