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How to Use the Steps Recorder

How to use the Steps Recorder

The Steps Recorder is a well-hidden tool available in Windows 7, Windows 8/8.1 and Windows 10. It allows you to record actions and then share the recording with others.

So why would you want to record actions? Well, have you ever had a colleague who is always asking you how to do things in Office? Instead of telling them, record the steps and send them the document. Or how about those occasional error messages that you need to report to your IT Team? Instead of explaining the issue, record the steps you took to get to the error.

Of course, steps recorder doesn’t just limit your recordings to Office.  You can record actions on pretty much anything; how to log expenses or use the line-of-business time tracking tools or how to play sneaky at Fortnite.  And the recorder tool is intelligent enough to black out sensitive fields such as passwords or digitally protected windows.

  1. Open the Steps Recorder (if you do not know where the Steps Recorder is located, search for it from the Start screen)
  2. Close any open windows other than Steps Recorder
How to use the Steps Recorder

NOTE: Steps Recorder will make screenshots of what’s on your computer screen and include those in the final recording. It is important that any unrelated open programs are closed first as this could be distracting.

  1. Click the Start Record button
  2. Complete the steps necessary as normal

You can tell when Steps Recorder is recording when the Start Record button changes to Pause Record and the title bar flashes ‘Recording Now’. The recording can be paused and resumed at any given time. During a recording you can also click the ‘Add Comment’ button to highlight a section of your screen and manually add a comment.

  1. Once you have finished, click Stop Record
  2. Click Save As
  3. Give the recording a name and click Save

A single .zip file containing all of the information recorded will be created and saved to your Desktop unless another location was specified. This can now be shared in one of the following ways:

  • Attached the file to an email
  • Copying the file to a network share drive or flash drive
  • Attaching the file to a forum post
  • Uploading the file to a file sharing service and linking to it

It is worth noting that Steps Recorder is not available in operating systems prior to Windows 7.

 


Do Challenges Motivate Trainees?

Snail moving to a finish line

Not that we like to brag but we’re pretty good at motivating attendees on our courses and events.  But there’s no magic bullet or panacea.  Just like raising children – lots of advice out there but no single, simple answer.  I can sense your disappointed face.

When we’re designing training exercises or labs, we need to motivate the trainees.  One way we can do this is to break new and potentially complex tasks into simpler steps and lead the user on a journey of mini-achievements.  Success is like endorphins; keep plying the attendee with obtainable challenges and they’ll continue and remain engaged.  Sounds like common sense; “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”.  I believe Kayne West took the credit for that gem.

But the difficulty of these challenges is a science in itself.  This study from the University of Southern California says the key is what people think ease and difficulty mean for them.  For some people, if tasks feel too easy, the journey becomes demeaning and boring and thus a demotivator.  Too difficult and the trainee might give up.  For others, easy tasks are in themselves motivators and for others still, high levels of difficulty can trigger feelings of the task being valuable and worthwhile to invest time and effort.

How people perceive difficulty can significantly influence their learning performance and the study found that people who perform better are the ones who felt that difficult does not mean impossible and easy does not mean trivial.

So we design course materials with a mix of challenges; some important objectives that are easy to accomplish (easy ≠ trivial) along with some complex or unfamiliar tasks broken down into methods, steps and terminology that allow trainees to achieve or at least confidently tackle the problem (difficult ≠ impossible).

Demographics comes into play as well so we also need to understand our audience and the mix of people.  The study found men on a low income are more likely to view difficulty to mean probable failure so may demonstrate a propensity to ‘give up’ quickly.  Statistics should always be questioned however and the study covered only 1,000 people and may not be representative of wider communities.

In conclusion, don’t set labs based solely on people’s perceived skill or ability but understand your trainees and set the right mix of challenges in order to maximise and maintain their motivation.  Training based on motivation is likely to be more successful.


Quick Access to a SharePoint library

Being able to synchronise a SharePoint document library to your pc in order to utilise it through Windows File Explorer is extremely useful. However the synchronisation will use up storage space on your local hard drive and having organisational documents stored locally will increase the risk of information compromise.

An effective way of rapidly accessing SharePoint document libraries and folders through File Explorer is to add them to the Quick Access section at the top left or the File Explorer windows, aka Favourites.

Step 1 – Navigate to the library through Internet Explorer

Browse to your SharePoint site and click on the document library.

SharePoint Document Library

 

Step 2 – Open the library in File Explorer

This is a great little step which opens the library as if it were a traditional mapped drive.  On the right-hand side of your document library toolbar (New, Upload, Sync, etc.) you’ll see the All Documents view.  Dropdown to see options and choose Open library in Windows File Explorer.  This allows you to act on the files just as you would normally for operations such as bulk copy or move.  The files are not synchronised locally so there is no offline access, storage or latency issues.  You must be online to achieve this and also must be using Internet Explorer as Chrome, FireFox and even Edge don’t support the Open library in Windows File Explorer feature.

Open a SharePoint document library in Windows File Explorer

Step 3 – Pin the library to you Quick Access navigation

When the explorer window opens, right-click the Quick Access on the left hand side and choose Pin current folder to Quick Access.  Or if it’s just a subfolder, right-click the specific folder you want and select Pin to Quick Access.  You’ll now have a handy shortcut to your online document library within File Explorer.

Pin a folder to Quick Access in Windows File Explorer

 

Caveats

This method assumes you are on a domain-joined machine with the same login as your Office 365 account, you have automatic login enabled and your SharePoint intranet is a trusted domain within Internet Explorer.  Otherwise File Explorer won’t be able to authenticate and you’ll get an error window stating access denied.  If this is a problem you aren’t able to resolve, then try one of the alternative methods below.

SharePoint Access Denied Error

 

Alternative methods

You can achieve a similar result in the Office applications.  Copy the URL of your SharePoint library (removing everything from the /forms suffix onwards).  Start your Office application, e.g. Word.  Select File, Save As and paste the URL into the filename box (you may need to click Browse first).  Hit enter and the app will open your document library.  Now you can scroll up the folder tree on the left until you see Quick Access and right-click in the same way as step 1.  This will propagate into other Office apps but not File Explorer and it’s useful if you regularly save into or open files from SharePoint libraries.

Finally, it’s also possible to pin the web page to your Windows taskbar in order to have quick navigation to the portal view of your library.  Drag the webpage tab onto the taskbar until the icon changes to Pin.  Then release the mouse button and you’ll have a persistent icon to that page.

Pin a webpage to Windows taskbar