This is the second in a three-part series on how the blogging phenomenon has affected IT professionals.
Not long ago, when she was about 20 minutes into a webcast for Microsoft employees on how to set up a blog, Eileen Brown discovered that most people had stopped paying attention. And that was a captive audience.
The UK-based Microsoft IT evangelist realized that if she wanted to get her message across, she was going to have to find a better way to deliver it. Brown's solution? A "blogcast." The Web-based video format provides tips and tricks, how-to segments and interesting tidbits in 10 minutes or less. No more would administrators have to sit through a 60-minute webcast waiting for a single snippet of relevant information.
Brown linked to her first
Brian Tucker, founder of The Blogcast Repository, said he created the site because he needed a place to host his own blogcasts about Microsoft's Systems Management Server (SMS) software. He has since begun compiling blogcasts on a range of other Microsoft products and technologies. Recent additions include an insider's look at Microsoft's TechEd 2005 conference and an exploration of Windows Server Update Services (WSUS). Tucker bills his site as "the central vault for free technical videos."
Blogcasters focus on the little things in IT
Jacksonville, Fla.-based consultant and self-described blogcaster Daniel Rich uses Tucker's site, and said he plans to create a blog to describe its content and link to the site. "I've got about four or five blogcasts on the repository, and beyond that [in my blog], there will be observations, tips [and] different scripts that I use that are handy."
At least one IT expert is a champion of the blogcast cause.
"What blogcasting does, from the IT perspective, is that it takes small things that the IT admins do every day and puts them into short training videos," said Rod Trent, a Microsoft SMS most valuable professional (MVP) and manager of TechTarget's myITforum.com. (TechTarget also owns SearchWin2000.com.)
"They can download these things. Watch on computers. Take [them] to portable media centers and sit and get trained all day long for probably five- to 15-minute segments," he said. "These blogcasters fill the void when people want something quick and informative when trying to get a job done."
The future of IT training?
Brown agrees and hopes that blogcasting can help make IT training easier. "I think they're going to be extremely handy," she said. "You can read a 50-page white paper and go through the screen shots one by one, but if that's reduced down to five pages and two blogcasts, you can read the white paper and watch how somebody is configuring that component. If you don't understand it, you can watch
So, will blogcasts revolutionize learning on the job in IT?
"The possibilities are endless," Brown said. "I think it's the start of a phenomenon and, hopefully, if we can spread the word to enough people, host them somewhere and blog about it, [then] everybody's lives have been made a little bit easier and a little bit more productive."
The Blogcast Repository's Tucker said blogcasts are simply a more effective learning tool because they are more in line with the way people absorb information.
"People always seem to have a better understanding when they watch [a blogcast] rather than read a documentation," he said. "If you have a visual, even though you may not follow exactly what the person is saying, it adds another level to the whole process."