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Videos Add Value

Introducing ASTM Videos for Standards

If a single picture is worth a thousand words, then a video may be worth the thousands of words it can take to explain an ASTM test procedure.

In February 2012, ASTM International introduced videos in selected standards. Learn how your committee can take advantage of this new feature.

That potential — plus saving time and money in lab training and helping users understand the description of a procedure — has led to the recent rollout of ASTM standards videos.

In February, ASTM International debuted videos to subscribers of the Standards and Engineering Digital Library Plus product. At launch, available videos included those covering sections of standards from Committees C01 on Cement, D18 on Soil and Rock, and more, on such procedural particulars as test specimen molding, compressive strength determination and hand tamping. Each video, completed by the ASTM staff multimedia producer in collaboration with a technical committee video task group, first goes through an established evaluation, production and approval process before it is added to the SEDL+ collection.

Consider the possible benefits for your committee’s standard test methods. Videos can illustrate any portion of a method that can benefit from a visual demonstration. Examples include sample preparation, apparatus setup or the procedure itself. Methods that frequently give rise to questions or have numerous users might be considered good candidates for videos. Videos could be especially helpful to users whose native language is not English.

Jan Wildman, quality control manager, Ardaman and Associates, Orlando, Fla., is chairman of Subcommittee D18.07 on Identification and Classification of Soils and membership secretary of D18 on Soil and Rock. Wildman has recently participated in the development of several videos for D4318, Test Methods for Liquid Limit, Plastic Limit and Plasticity Index of Soils. “It is amazing that words can be interpreted in various ways,” she says. “I often feel that I have over-described a technique only to find that someone still has questions or has interpreted the instructions completely differently… It is so much easier just to see the procedure being done.”

Note that videos do not replace a standard; they are designed to provide additional benefit for the standard’s users. The films all include caveats that they represent one way to perform a part of a test and that ASTM does not endorse a particular type of test equipment used in the film.

And note that the video task group from the subcommittee responsible for the standard will oversee the review of the video prior to ASTM making it available. As with a technical paper’s peer review, additional edits can be made before the video is available. The ASTM multimedia producer essentially uses the language in the standard as the script for the video.

Should you think a video for one of your committee’s standards is a good idea, or if you would like to volunteer your laboratory for a shoot, the place to start is with your technical committee’s staff manager.

This article appears in the issue of Standardization News.