This is the sixth in the series of weekly Staff Newsletter articles in which I highlight some of the key decisions and developments that will shape how we will be delivering learning and teaching across the University in the new academic year.
This week’s article has been written with Professor Martha Caddell, Director of the Learning and Teaching Academy.
This week’s topic – captioning teaching materials.
Academic Year 2020/21 - Responsive Blended Learning
As we move to Responsive Blended Learning in Academic Year 2020/21 we will be making greater use of multi-media resources in all our courses. This may include, for example, pre-recorded lectures, footage from external sources or recordings from live teaching events.
Making Material Accessible
In order to ensure our materials are accessible to all our students, we need to consider how we caption or make available transcripts of video content. The University has recently issued guidance on what is required and some step-by step advice on how this can be done.
Why do we need to caption materials?
Recent legislation has highlighted the need for all website-based materials, including VLEs, to be accessible to all. Providing captions and transcripts of materials is helpful to a wide range of students and is good pedagogic practice.
But that seems a significant additional burden at a time teaching teams are already stretched. What is essential to do at this stage?
The University recognises this and is striving to address specific student need, legislative requirements and best practice in a pragmatic way. We have separated out what is essential and what is desirable for this academic year.
So what do I need to do?
There are two different types of recording you need to be aware of.
The recordings of lectures and other teaching material that you produce ahead of a class. These should be auto-captioned and transcripts provided. Practically, we are advising colleagues to do all pre-recording in MS Stream or Teams, where auto-captioning is automatically produced.
Only where students have an identified need for support will human-corrected captions / transcription be mandatory. Disability Services will alert course teams to any students in their cohort who have a learning profile with this requirement.
For ‘live’ recordings:
To support an inclusive learning environment, benefitting all students, it is desirable to have auto-captioning and transcripts provided for all recorded classes. It is desirable that captions/transcripts are human-corrected. Only in those classes where students have a learning profile which identifies captioning/transcripts as a support need is the provision of human-corrected auto-captions and transcripts mandatory.
What technology is available to help with this?
The University uses platforms such as MS Stream and Teams which allow for auto-transcription and captioning.
Guidance on how to provide transcriptions of Teams or Collaborate Ultra live sessions is available from the LTES team: https://heriotwatt.sharepoint.com/sites/is-ltestrainingcentre/SitePages/Captioning.aspx
Where else can staff access practical support and training?
Staff can access practical guidance on captioning and transcription via the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Service: https://heriotwatt.sharepoint.com/sites/is-ltestrainingcentre/SitePages/Captioning.aspx
LTES will be offering School-based support session on how to easily produce captions and transcripts for recorded material.
Staff can also access advice and guidance from the University Disability Service: https://heriotwatt.sharepoint.com/sites/registry-disabilityteam/SitePages/Teaching-and-Assessment-Information.aspx