Should Narrators of Tutorial Videos Announce Tool Changes?

Should Narrators of Tutorial Videos Announce Tool Changes ?

The teacher in the following video is changing tools, and newbs don’t notice. (Even though the mouse can be seen changing the tool.)

Reference this discussion …
Measurement label stuck on 'Sides' not 'Distance'. How do I change it back and set height distance please
… where the OP doesn’t realize that the Circle Tool was changed to the PushPull tool.

The narrator of the lesson has just changed to the PushPull tool without announcing the tool change, … and just goes on to state the action that needs to be performed with the new tool.

Teachers (in software instructional videos) need to understand that everything is new to newbs, and they do not notice everything that is happening. They are watching the model space closely, so they miss other things that happen. They also often lose track of the cursor movements.

Anyway, in videos, teachers need to always announce anytime any button or control is clicked, or a tool is changed.


I been thinkin all day

Would it be possible for the tool used by the teacher to be predominately displayed on the screen? This would be much like @TheOnlyAaron shows the down arrow key in his presentation

While I agree of the problem some info is needed that the tool changes, I would suspect it is quite difficult to remember to always say it out loud. Once you get used to drawing in SketchUp, you often don’t even know you are changing tool because your mind operates at a higher level and tool changing just comes automatically. Also it could be disruptive for the flow if the teacher stops and explicitly tells they are changing tool each time.

I think the teacher should state tool changes the first time they select a tool, but that any shortcuts pressed should also be shown clearly on the screen. This way we both have an initial presentation of the tool and a good flow in the rest of the tutorial.

I wrote this tool with Rich O’Brien about 7 years ago…
It inserts a piece of screen-text in the top left corner of the screen - it lists the last 5 tools used and their short-cut keys. Useful for training purposes.


That’s the whole point. It is of no use for newbies to show how ‘quick on the draw’ you are as instructor. When demo-ing (or teaching) I believe it is best to tell three things:

  • What you are gonna do (I am gonna draw a rectangle and need the rectangle tool)
  • Explain while doing (I activate the rectangle tool, pick a start point with LMB, pick an end point with LMB)
  • Say what you just did (I activated the Rectangle tool and drew a rectangle)
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Even if you’ve never seen the program open before it would be awfully slow to watch if the person tells what tool they activate and why each time they activate a tool. The first times are required, and maybe the second times, but not the 4th or 10th.

using text or speech is of no advantage unless translated…

an issue with non-standard ‘cues’ is when the user thinks they are part of SU…

I’m not getting any screen text messages when I follow your steps, etc…

hovering a toolbar tool and/or shaking the cursor after a change [especially shortcut keys] is better for visual communication…

having ‘Instructor’ in frame can help or a keypad viewer with a comment that it’s external…


I think the problem with the text appearing to be a part of the native interface can be easily fixed with some good styling. Just making it a white text on a transparent black background like a subtitle on TV and people see it’s “meta” content.

Except that users watch what they think they need to watch (because they are stuck trying to model something,) and not always in lesson order.

So no, (ie, I don’t agree,) the original suggestion for this topic still applies in my opinion.
There is a proper way to teach in video tutorials that should be followed for all videos.
(You don’t stop using good programming code style just because it’s your 4th or 10th plugin.)

There are also software tools that make it easier for the instructor creating the tutorials.

(As noted, keystroke overlays, and also visual ripples at the point of mouse clicks. Also perhaps using a more obvious bright system color for depressed buttons would help the newbs notice tool changes easier.)

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Changed topic title from …

Narrators of videos need to announce tool changes

… to …

Should Narrators of Tutorial Videos Announce Tool Changes?

… so it is more of an open question of discussion, rather than a statement of my opinion.


A lot of good thoughts in this topic! My input:

It’s important to remember that we are talking about video tutorials, not live-streaming. Videos can be post-processed to fix all sorts of issues and to add extra content. Yes, that’s extra work, but in this situation the video is the product, not whatever was being modeled!

For example, text indicating a tool selection can be added later, it doesn’t have to be a live feature of the SketchUp display.

In the same vein, language translations whether by subtitles or over-dubbing can be created later by someone who is bi-lingual. They don’t have to be generated in real time.

In a live classroom, if a tutor goes too fast, the students’ hands go up to ask questions. That provides a natural gauge of pace. A video has no such feedback, so it is the tutor’s responsibility to learn to pace themselves and to explain pro-actively what they are doing. The tutor needs to remember that the students are trying to duplicate the actions on their own computers and that makes them slower. Once again, the video is the product, not the model. It doesn’t matter if you can create a model in half the time if students watching the video are lost because you moved too fast!