Teaching Tips and Questions

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Captions for videos

  • 1.  Captions for videos

    Posted 03-29-2020 20:28
    If you use video, adding captions is helpful. Consider how helpful they might be for students who:
    • have hearing difficulties
    • are non-native speakers of English
    • have regional accents that are very different from yours
    • are watching the video in circumstances where they can't turn up the sound (e.g., while they are caring for noisy children or children who are watching TV, so that the sound of your video would be distracting.)
    The easiest way to add captions to videos these days is to use auto-generated captions, and then go through and correct any errors that appear in them. (Speech recognition software is not perfect, so there are always errors. But it's still WAY faster than doing the captions by hand.)

    If you are making your own videos, check whether your software has an auto-captioning capability. (For example, my university provides YuJa software for making lecture videos, and it does have an auto-captioning function.) Then go back and edit the captions before you post the video. (If you have teaching assistants, this is a great job for them to do.)

    You can also add captions to ANY video (whether you made it yourself or grabbed it from YouTube or somewhere else) by using the excellent site Kapwing.com. Create a free account, and then go to this page where it says "Add subtitles to video". Upload your video and click "auto-generate" to get the subtitles. Then go through and fix errors. When you're done, click CREATE to download your subtitled video.

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    Barbara Sarnecka
    Irvine CA
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  • 2.  RE: Captions for videos

    Posted 03-30-2020 01:30
    Those are great ideas Barbara. Another option to caption your lecture that I learned from a colleague of mine here at Cal State Northridge is that you can use MS powerpoint, in the presenter view and it will automatically caption as you talk. So if you go to the Slide Show tab on the newest version of Microsoft Powerpoint, you will see there is an option to click always use subtitles. You can actually look what your subtitle settings are, and you can record the powerpoint from there. It's made things a lot easier for me. I have students in my courses that have hearing difficulties and need the help. Usually I send it to our NCOD office for captioning by their professional captioning team, but in a time like the current, where I have no time to pre-record my lectures,  I have learned there are these resources out there. For that, I am grateful.

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    Meeta Banerjee
    California State University Northridge
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  • 3.  RE: Captions for videos

    Posted 03-30-2020 11:33
    Hi Meeta, 

    Yes, great point! You can do that with Google Slides, too. If you are lecturing using Google Slides, there's a button called "Captions" in the black control bar at the bottom, which appears when you are presenting. (See attached photo. Captions button is indicated by pink arrow and circle.) You can click it and it will start auto-generating captions as you speak. 

    One thing to be careful of with real-time captions, though: They can be distracting. People tend to read the captions instead of looking at your face or the rest of the slide, and when the captions have mistakes (e.g., transcribing Piaget as 'PRJ') it can be inadvertently funny and very distracting. So I usually don't use real-time captions while I speak to audiences in North America, but I do put captions (with errors corrected) on videos that I post for people to watch later. And I still use real-time captions when I give talks outside North America.

    How to use google captions


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    Barbara W. Sarnecka
    Professor, Cognitive Sciences
    University of California - Irvine
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