Faster Captioning

This post details some easy tips and tricks to speed up your caption editing process using Notepad and Word.

This post assumes users are using Panopto (ReCap), therefore Panopto guidance is linked for uploading and downloading caption files. Guidance for other products such as Streams, Vimeo and YouTube can be found on their own sites.

In FMS TEL many team members regularly work with captioning videos – whether these are our own instructional videos or webinars, or student learning materials. Recently a few of us in the team have been talking about how we caption videos – specifically, what processes we use. There are some of us in the team who use the inline caption editor in Panopto, and use speed controls to manage the flow of speech so they can correct as they go. Others prefer to download the caption files and work with them in a separate program.

Both methods have their pros and cons. Working within the online editor is often best for short videos, or those with very few corrections to be made. Sometimes, though, it is easier to manage longer or more error-prone caption files in their own window. This gives more space to see what you’re doing – as long as you can avoid messing up the file structure. You can also use proofing tools in Word to speed things along or cut out repeated mistakes.

The rest of this post details some tips you can try to speed up your own process if not using the online editor.

You may find that for the bulk of the editing you don’t even need to be listening to the video – the errors can sometimes be evident just from text.

To work with captions outside of Panopto, you’ll first need to download the caption file. If there is no file to download, you’ll need to request automatic captions first. The caption file can be opened in Notepad. From there, you can edit each line of text separately. You must not change the file structure – so do not edit any of the other lines in the file, even the empty ones.

The file repeats in structure every 4 lines. The first is the sequence number of the caption, the second is the timestamp displayed in hours, minutes, seconds and milliseconds, the third is the spoken text and the fourth is an empty line.

Then, save the Notepad file. In its folder, right-click the file, select ‘rename’ and edit the file extension to .vtt instead of .txt (you may need to change your folder settings to view file extensions first). Then, upload your caption file.

Deciding WHAT to edit is a whole separate issue, but once you’ve made those decisions, Word’s proofing tools can help you target certain things more efficiently.

If you want to take advantage of some more proofing tools, try copy and pasting your entire file into Word. This will allow you to use tools such as Spelling and Grammar check to remove duplicate words or transcribed stuttering sounds, and can also draw your attention to other oddities. The Spelling and Grammar tool automatically moves you through your document, saving time scrolling and searching. As well as checking spelling, this can also help trim unnecessary words from the text, making it faster to read.

Find and Replace is useful, and can help…

  • If a name has been consistently misspelled – for example Jo/Joe.
  • If the speaker has a filler word that can be removed (I say “kind of” as filler so always search for and remove it from the captions!).
  • To replace key numbers or years that have been spelled out with their numerical representations (e.g. ninety-nine percent -> 99%).
  • Filtering out inappropriate language if it has been misheard by the auto software – if you see it once you can search the whole document quickly.
  • Filtering out colloquial spellings (gonna -> going to).

A good tip to ensure you only find whole words is to search them with spaces before and after the word itself. You can also use the ‘more’ option dialog and check the ‘whole words only’ box.

These extra options can help speed things up.

If you have been deleting a lot of items and adding spaces in their place, you might also want to do a find and replace for two spaces together and replace with one space. Run this a few times until there are no results. Similarly, you could look for comma-space-comma if you have removed a lot of filler.

These steps won’t fix everything, but can cut out some of the bulk and help speed up your process. After using these tools, read through the captions carefully again to fix any leftover errors.

Our team is growing!

Last month we welcomed Michael Hughes to the FMS TEL team, as Learning Technologies Developer.

Michael is one of six Web Developers within the team who create and maintain Web-based systems which support learning and teaching across the Faculty, University and beyond. He brings with him great enthusiasm and experience of developing innovative systems. One of his first projects is to work with the RolePlayNorth team to redevelop an old, but business-critical, system that has reached end of life. He will be co-developing this with Dan Plummer (FMS TEL systems usually have a least two developers, to help ensure nothing is one person deep!) and collaborating with the wider team in other activities.

“Coming from a manual labour background and specifically working in the Traffic management and Utilities industry for the past 8 years. Seeing a lack of development and online tools to help assist doing the job led me to learning how to code.

Industries like those are the backbone of the economy and the lack of basic tech was eye opening. Working one day I asked one of my more experienced co workers about the marker post locations (white sticks 100 meters apart on the motorway) which we used everyday to plan out roadworks. Finding out that most workers didn’t have the information where they are and if your traveling from say A69 or the A66 coming to the A1 you have no idea if you have to travel south or north to come south as to not miss your starting location for roadworks or even worse a car crash which could mean a 30 minute turn around if guessed incorrectly.

This idea pushed me to working on the project that got me the learning technologies position here at Newcastle University.”

Michael Hughes

We are excited to have Michael on the team and cannot wait to see what he will accomplish!

Case Study: Virtual Oral Presentations as a summative assessment

How do oral presentations work for 100% online modules?

Presentations helps students put across an idea while expressing their personalities, which is hard to do in an essay.

Introduction

Oral presentations are a popular choice of assessment in the Faculty of Medical Sciences, especially in our e-Learning modules. Students are asked to submit a pre-recorded presentation to Canvas and the markers watch the presentations at a time and place that suits them.

Diarmuid Coughlan, module leader for ONC8028 Practical Health Economics for Cancer, has kindly agreed to walk us through how the Virtual Oral Presentation element works on his module.

The Assessment

This year we had 14 students on the module. We asked the students to create a 15 minute presentation using either Zoom, Panopto (Recap) or PowerPoint.

We informed the students right at the start of the module that an oral presentation was part of the assessment and 4 weeks into the module we provided a formative assessment. The formative assessment allowed students to familiarise themselves with their chosen software, gain experience talking to a camera and also get some limited feedback on their presentation skills.

The submissions are double marked by 2 markers. Marking is completed separately by each marker outside of Canvas, then markers meet to discuss which marks/comments would be entered into Canvas and made visible to each student.

The Set Up

We provided 2 submission points in Canvas:

Recording Submission Point:

This area was used for the marking. It was set up as Media Recording for MP4 uploads (max of 500 mb) with a Text Entry option for Panopto users (no size limit).

We allowed students to choose which technology they were most comfortable with and provided video and written instructions for Panopto and Zoom. PowerPoint instructions were added later as an option with links to guidance provided by Microsoft.

View of instructions in Canvas

We also provided some instructions so students could crop their recordings to comply with the 15 minute time limit.

You are limited by time so remember to edit your recording so it is no longer than 15 minutes. Instructions: Windows | Mac | Panopto

Slide Submission Point:

This area had a 0 point value. It was set up as a File upload area for students to submit their slides as .ppt or .pdf, this allowed us to get a turnitin plagiarism score for each presentation as well as a reference copy of the slides, should anything be unclear in the video recordings.

How did it go?

There was a lot of fear from students initially. We encouraged students to give it a go, informing them that we were not trying to trick them. We provided clear guidance on what we expected and provided a rubric with a breakdown of points, clearly showing only a small percentage of the grade would be based on their presentation style and delivery. The content of the presentation was the most important part!

The use of technology was varied:

As markers we also had to overcome our fears of technology.

PowerPoint is easier once you know how to access recordings (you have to download the file, then click start slideshow).

Sometimes the Panopto recordings were hard to find, especially if students had experience of using the technology in Blackboard and did not follow the Canvas instructions correctly.

What are your next steps?

  • We only provided grades with a short feedback comment last year, we plan to provide more extensive feedback going forward
  • We will add more video content into the module as examples of how to create engaging slides and showcase our presentation styles – hopefully leading by example
  • We would also like to provide examples of a good presentation vs a bad presentation

Captioning and Transcribing – What Standard Should I Aim for?

When captioning and transcribing, what is meant by ‘accuracy’? When are captions good enough?

In FMS TEL and LTDS many team members regularly work with captioning videos, in particular for our own instructional videos or webinars. Recently a few of us have been talking about how we caption videos and how we decide what to correct. After discovering we all had differences of opinion about what to keep and what to edit, it seemed like a good idea to think through the issues.

This webinar from the University of Kent features Nigel Megitt from the BBC talking about priorities when captioning and audio describing TV programme. It includes research on how people with different levels of hearing feel about captions.

Note: These discussions refer to materials created for staff training and other internal uses. For student materials, please see the university policies on captioning materials for students and the captioning disclaimer to help with your decision-making.

Different Types of Captioning and Transcription

Commercial captioning companies offer a range of levels of detail. We do not outsource these tasks, but the predefined service levels can help clarify what decisions are made when captioning. Is verbatim captioning better than a lightly edited video? An accurate set of captions or transcript should include hesitations and false starts, but a more readable one might remove these for fast comprehensibility and more closely resemble the script of a speech.

Key Considerations

  • Destination – who is the audience? What do they need?
  • Speaker(s) – how can they be best represented? How do they feel about you editing their speech for clarity (e.g. removing filler words) vs correcting captions to verbatim?
  • Timescale – how fast do you need to turn this around? Longer videos and heavier editing takes longer.
  • Longevity – will this resource be around for a long time and reach a wider audience? If so it may merit extra polish.

Once you have broadly decided on the above, you can deal with the nitty-gritty of deciding what to fix, edit or remove. Deciding on your approach to these common issues means you won’t have to make a decision each time you find an error in your transcript. If working with a few other colleagues on a larger project you might want to agree with each other what standard you are aiming for to create uniformity.

Editing Decisions

The ASR occasionally misunderstands speech and adds incorrect captions that may be distracting, embarrassing or inappropriate, for example adding swearing or discriminatory language that the speaker has not in fact used. Checking the captions for these is a great start, and is likely to be appreciated by all speakers!

We don’t usually speak in the same way we write. Normal speech is full of little quirks that don’t appear in text. Some of these include…

  • False starts (If we take… no actually let’s start with… yes, OK, if we take question 4 next…)
  • Hesitations (um….ah…)
  • Filler Words (you know, like, so…)
  • Repeated words (You can do this by… by reading the text)

Other Considerations for Captioning

Remember that captions will be read on screen at the pace of the video. This means that anything that you can do to increase readability may be useful for the viewer. This includes simple things like…

  • Fixing initialisms and acronyms (PGR not p g r, SAgE not sage)
  • Fixing web and email addresses (abc1@ncl.ac.uk, not A B C One At Newcastle Dot A See Dot UK)
  • Adding quotation marks around quotes.

You may also consider…

  • Presenting numbers using figures rather than words (99% not ninety-nine percent)
  • Removing awkward breaks (When Panopto separates a final word from its sentence.)
  • Fixing inaccurate punctuation like full stops in the wrong places, or commas and apostrophes (this is quite time consuming).

Considerations for Transcription

As well as the editing and tidying jobs above, before beginning to work with your file, consider whether or not the timing points are going to be important, and how you are going to denote different speakers, or break up the text. For example, for an interview you may need to denote various speakers very clearly. By contrast, for a training webinar, even if there are two presenters it might not be crucial to distinguish them. Instead it might be better to add headings for each slide so that the two resources can be used side by side.

Once you have decided on what to edit and what to ignore, your process will move along much faster as you won’t need to decide on the fly.

Keep an eye on the blog over the next few weeks for tips on how to quickly manage and edit your caption and transcription files.

Personal Tutoring, an example of rapid application development?

What is Personal Tutoring?

Personal Tutoring is the process of assigning the availability of university staff for student tutoring. It is not actually the process of assigning individual students to individual staff. Staff in the faculty are assigned to programme groupings/pots (not individual programmes), these groupings have a lead administrator that can then work out by looking at the expected student intake whether they need more staff resource, or can free it up for others.

The faculty admin team have undertaken this process for many years using excel spreadsheets and email communications to pass the information back and forward. This kinds of activity is both time consuming and prone to errors caused by duplicate copies of data and missed communications.

This is the perfect example of a process that can be done better using a web application, the kind of work the Technologies Developers in FMS TEL undertake all the time.

No time to plan properly

Sometimes a project comes to the unit that needs to be completed in a short time frame. Ideally the amount of time spent on a new website would be evenly spread between specifications, design, implementation, testing and support/improving., it may even go through many loops of these processes.

When a project does not have the luxury of time, then all these steps need to be compressed and decisions made on which steps need to be prioritised . In the case of personal tutoring the design phase and specifications where collaborated from the old Excel spreadsheets and turned into a simple tabular wireframe display. These spreadsheets where also identified as the origin of the data the site would be based off and import scripts planned accordingly. No complex interface features where offered, just a clean display of the data, with filters and stats to help the tutoring assignments. As for the implementation of the site, we decided to host the new site on top of another, saving time on hosting framework and infrastructure. We chose a site that had similar tools (FMS Projects, which has a statistics section) and tools we could utilise. We also based the core of the new site off knowledge and experience the team was used to (API’s and data tables, spreadsheet importing / exporting). Finally the testing and support side was compressed, keeping the interface simple, reducing the need for support and documentation. The limited number of users the site may have, also helps support as we can offer short term direct guidance.

With all these measures, we managed to reduce a development process that could take 6 months down to 3.

The Results

The Personal Tutoring site is due to go live in July 2022. We managed to write and get a functional version of the site done in roughly 2 months. This left 1 month planning the release, testing and show casing the site to the customers and making improvements from their feedback. Overall we are pleased with the structure and quality of the site. The code design is based on solid principles and should offer a degree of flexibility when Personal Tutoring gets used and the inevitable suggested improvements come through.

If you are interested in this topic and wish to learn more, please contact:

Dan Plummer, Learning Technologies Developer, dan.plummer@newcastle.ac.uk

Probity in Online Exams – Success at TEPARG for SDS and FMS TEL

This post highlights the work done by SDS and FMS TEL to support remote exams over the past few years. Successful techniques for keeping students informed and supported are discussed, including student voice.

Work done by the School of Dentistry and FMS TEL Team won first prize at the Trans-European Pedagogic Anatomical Research Group Hybrid Conference this year, for the presentation on ‘Adopting a flexible approach to professional anatomy spotter exams during COVID’. You can read the internal news item on Sharepoint.

This work was also subsequently presented at the Newcastle University Learning and Teaching Conference 2022. Newcastle Staff can view the poster here for an overview.

This work centres on how exams subject to oversight from professional bodies – in this case the General Dental Council – could be run with adequate probity when these could not be undertaken in person.

The first element of this is to run the exams ‘live’ rather than as a 24h format. This meant that teaching staff and professional staff could be on hand to resolve any technical difficulties or make invigilation decisions.

A variety of question designs were also thought through. The final format was a ‘stimulus’ question type on Canvas, allowing an image to be shown with answer options alongside. Now this question type can also be used with Inspera exams.

The support of students with SSPs was also a key consideration, and rest breaks were granted across the board when exams were very lengthy. Students were asked what they thought about the probity measures put in place, such as the use of an exam declaration, and checking responses which may have been copy-pasted. Overall, the response was positive.

A key element in the smooth running of these exams was the preparation offered to students beforehand, such as clear messaging via email and the opportunity to practice with the exam environment before undertaking their summative assessments. 99% of students agreed that they had been well-supported throughout the process and during the exams themselves via the Zoom exam hotline. Most calls were students double-checking their responses had been submitted, rather than having technical issues.

Learning from these exams has already been carried forward for digital exams running through the new Inspera exam system, and the confidence staff and students have in the procedure means that any future changes to circumstances will be much easier to navigate for these teams and cohorts.

The Unessay – NULTConf

Dr Stephanie Holton presented her Unessay assessment task – what could you assess with an Unessay?

At the Learning and Teaching Conference Dr Stephanie Holton, along with two of her students, presented their experiences trialling a new approach to assessment – giving students freedom in how to present their learning, rather than setting a traditional essay task. This work was done in a module examining Ancient Greek texts.

What is an ‘unessay’ – and how exactly does it work? This talk explores the increasingly popular unessay as alternative assessment type, taking as a case study its implementation across several compulsory language modules in the School of History, Classics & Archaeology during 2020-21. Delivered by both the staff and students involved, it highlights the wide range of benefits – as well as the challenges – of diversifying assessment in some of our most traditional modules.

Dr Stephanie Holton

The full talk can be viewed here.

It was fantastic to see how the students were able to approach this new assessment methodology, and the outputs themselves were diverse, including models and digitally-created choose-your-own adventure books. The support provided included workshops and one-to-one sessions so that students knew what to expect, and were confident they were on the right track. While somewhat time-intensive in terms of support, the level of engagement and ownership the students felt around their creations was a clear benefit of this methodology.

Students were able to share their extra curricular creative skills, and the diversity of their approaches meant that they were prompted to explore their texts in new ways – for example researching clothing colours for their model characters that would be appropriate for the time. The need for these extra details prompted students to do more research around their text that they may not have otherwise done, broadening their subject knowledge.

These kinds of assessments open the door to students using and expanding their digital skills, even though this isn’t the focus of the assessment. The element of choice allows them to choose their own level of comfort with how they’d like to present their project – whether this is in a digital format or physical.

What could you assess with an Unessay?

Augmented reality in physics laboratories – NULTConf

NULTConference – Augmented reality in physics laboratories how might this help in FMS?

An extremely interesting talk from Dr Aleksey Kozikov on using AR to allow students to operate equipment in a lab remotely.

We introduce augmented reality (AR) in online physics laboratories and demonstrate their operation. It allows students to see the real and virtual world overlaid with each other. Webcams stream videos of real hands-on experiments live into students’ computers. Virtual objects (buttons, switches, cables, etc.) overlay with the real scenes. As users handle virtual tools, they perform required tasks of experiments. We will also discuss advantages of having AR labs.

The full talk can be viewed here

Equipment was set out with a webcam in front of it. . The webcam was linked to a micro controller which allowed students to control it remotely. Students logged into an onscreen control panel. Virtual buttons were placed over the top of real buttons on the machines to allow students to have the effect of pressing them. The camera worked by using markers which were placed on the machines to help the camera with tracking and keep the virtual buttons in place.

There were also 360⁰ virtual tours of labs. Students could enter and walk around the labs, click on icons to learn more about equipment and click a weblink to a browser to do the experiment. There was no need for software, just a browser. Only necessary functionality was available. No need to log into university computers, and students could work remotely in groups.

Red circles were used as markers for the camera. Next steps were to use Fiducial markers (small QR codes) which can provide much more information. They are also looking for students to be able to use handheld controllers with VR glasses in future development. These would also be used in person in the labs and they would be able to comment to someone through the glasses on Zoom.

This concept may be transferable to some experiments done in FMS labs.

Technology Showcase – UTME Study Day

This weeks post shares a session FMS TEL were asked to participate in a study day on the Utilising Technology in Medical Education (UTME) module offered by the School of Medical Education.

The FMS TEL team were asked to participate in a study day on the Utilising Technology in Medical Education (UTME) module offered by the School of Medical Education.

The module aims to raise students’ awareness of how technology enhanced learning is currently used in health care education and gives students the opportunity to explore technologies and investigate theoretical underpinnings. Based on these aims we put together a 3 part presentation.

Part 1 – Tools for Student Interaction

PowerPoint Slide: FMS TEL Interactive Content, Instant/Quick Wins

Emily introduced a number of TEL tools including; Menti, vevox and padlet. Each tool was discussed; outlining its uses, pros and cons. Current examples of content designs, interactive activities and animations used throughout the faculty were shared.

Part 2 – Collaborating and Facilitating Group Work

PowerPoint Slide: FMS TEL Collaborating with Microsoft

Michelle demonstrated how to use Microsoft 365 to co-author and co-edit documents, presentations and spreadsheets. Students were shown various features including; reviewing mode, version history and how to use Sharepoint to monitor breakout room activities.

Part 3 – Teaching Tools

PowerPoint Slide: FMS TEL Teaching Tools

Eleanor shared her experience of teaching with Zoom/Teams and tips on how to humanise online sessions. She discussed common barriers, such as awkwardness or long silences and strategies or tools to use as solutions.

Embrace the silence: the use of timers in synchronous teaching

Learn how to use timers in your PowerPoint presentations to aid questions and answers for students and yourself.

As teachers or trainers we can often feel the pressure to fill the silence when presenting. How long should you wait for an answer? Or a better question might be, how long do you think you wait?

Research suggests that at least 3 seconds can provide positive outcomes for both teachers/trainers and students (Rowe, 1972).

Each task may require different lengths of silence, you will want to think about the time the students will need to:

  • process the question
  • think of the answer
  • formulate a response
  • (if teaching virtually) unmute or type their response

The concern is to provide the period of time that will most effectively assist nearly every student to complete the cognitive tasks needed in the particular situation.

Stahl, 1994

You may find yourself counting the 10 or 15 seconds in your head, but still the silence can feel unbearable.

PowerPoint Animations to the rescue

Using a consistent slide design with an animation will not only relieve the pressure on you to keep track of the time but also provide cues that students will become familiar with as your teaching progresses.

Below are examples and instructions for 4 different types of animations you can create in PowerPoint, ranging from super easy to slightly complex. At the bottom of this post you will find a template document of all the examples shown plus a few more complicated designs which you can download and use in your own presentations.

Example 1: Stopwatch

Example stopwatch PowerPoint animation
  1. Insert a circle and style as required (holding shift will help you draw a perfect circle)
  2. Add a “Wheel” animation to the circle and adjust to your chosen duration (max of 59 second)
  3. Add the stopwatch icon (Insert > Icons > search for “Stopwatch”)

Example 2: Progress Bar

Example progress bar PowerPoint animation
  1. Insert a rectangle, remove the outline and choose a fill colour
  2. Add a “Wipe” animation to the rectangle, using the effect options drop down change the direction to “From left” or “From right”. Adjust to your chosen duration (max of 59 seconds)
  3. Insert a second rectangle on top of the first, remove the fill colour and style the outline as desired.

Example 3: Count Down

Example count down PowerPoint animation
  1. Create a text box for each number required, style as required
  2. Add the “Disappear” animation to all text boxes
  3. Set the first number to start “on click” with a 1 second delay
  4. Set all other numbers to start “after previous” with a 1 second delay
  5. Stack each text box on top of each other in the correct order, you may want to use the arrange menu or the selection pane to assist with this
  6. (optional) Add a text box at the back stating times up

Example 4: Scrolling counter

Example scrolling counter PowerPoint animation
  1. Insert a rectangle, with no fill and an outline of your choice
  2. Insert a text box and type in the required numbers, with a new number on each line
  3. Add the “Lines” animation to the text box, move your text box so your first number aligns with the green arrow and your final number aligns with the red arrow (further guidance). Adjust to your chosen duration (max of 59 seconds)
  4. Insert more rectangles above and below the first rectangle you created to hide the numbers as they scroll in and out

Resources

References

Rowe, M., 1986. Wait Time: Slowing Down May Be A Way of Speeding Up!. Journal of Teacher Education, 37(1), pp.43-50

Stahl, Robert J. & ERIC Clearinghouse for Social Studies/Social Science Education.  1994,  Using “Think-Time” and “Wait-Time” Skillfully in the Classroom [microform] / Robert J. Stahl  Distributed by ERIC Clearinghouse [Washington, D.C.]  <https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED370885>