A couple of weeks ago I discovered a University document called the New Learning Technologist Development Toolkit. And so I began a new project to follow it and develop my skills in Learning Technology. Obviously a project like this needed some way over the top organising… 😁
A while ago, I developed my own Microsoft Team called ‘Team of Me’, for organising myself and bringing my notes and notifications together in lockdown. This seemed like a good place to organise my training plans, so at first I created a channel in this Team to collect resources for this new project.
I began setting up a plan in Planner, creating lists of links, collecting PDF resources, making a few notes in the OneNote notebook and setting up some helpful Flows to channel messages into the right places, and cheer my progress along.
However, I soon discovered that the New Learning Technologist Toolkit, which looked like a short PDF, was actually a lot bigger than I’d thought. Everything it mentioned sent me down another rabbit hole of links and documents, and I realised it would need several channels in its own right to organise it all.
In fact, I began to suspect that becoming a Learning Technologist would take a lot longer than the 4 weeks listed after all. Who knew🙄. And so I decided to set my project up in a new Team of its own, which I’ve called ‘My New Learning Technologist Toolkit Team’.
The challenge now was to copy across the content I had collected and created in my original Teams channel into this new team.
Sometimes I wish I could caption literally anything. But at least since the move to home working, I’ve been wishing I could get live captions for online meetings and training sessions. I think transcripts are probably a bit too intrusive without consent, along the lines of making recordings, but live captions would often be so useful.
So I am very happy today, because I have finally found a way to get live captions that I think will work for anything with sound that plays in the browser on the computer. It was developed for Android first and so it involves installing a new version of Google Chrome called Canary, that is still in beta testing.
Downloading Chrome Canary: really liking the all-yellow version of the Chrome logo. I just know great things are ahead…
Visit this URL in the Canary browser where you can change the settings: chrome://flags/#enable-accessibility-live-captions
Enable live captions
Relaunch the browser
Switch on the Live Captions setting in the browser options (enter this URL to search for it: chrome://settings/?search=captions )
Search for Captions and switch on the Live Captions setting in the browser
You should be able to see captions whenever there are spoken words now. I can confirm that this works with Collaborate live sessions and video playback, as well as Teams meetings in the web browser (although the Teams Desktop App has better caption and transcript options of its own).
Testing out the Live Captions
The first chance I got to try this was in our morning Teams meeting…
So, here they are working in a Teams meeting in the browser:
Live Captions in Teams (Web Browser Version): Good to see them, though again, not perfect – if you have access to the desktop app, click the three vertical dots for better captioning options in Teams meetings. I look a bit goofy in the corner because I’m excited to see this working for the first time!
Here they are, working in a Collaborate video playback:
Live Captions added to video playback in Collaborate: They aren’t always right, but they definitely are there!
Here they are working in a Collaborate live webinar:
Screenshot of Live Captions working in Collaborate: looks fantastic, very useful! Is that Teams notification annoying anyone else?
And here they are working in YouTube:
(Which also has its own captions, but I’m including it as a demo)
Screenshot of captions in YouTube – in this case, very accurate too! Also, lovely guided meditation, courtesy of The Honest Guys
So, I really like this – thanks, Google!
Can we have slow down, rewind and replay next please? I thought at first, they’re not miracle workers – but I suppose with enough buffering they probably could.
And I wonder if it would work with Google glasses…
What can you do about old website URLs that are still indexed by Google? I received this question recently:
I was just contacting you to ask you about some of the links from my original website. When I put my name into a search engine quite a few pages from my original website come up like the news page etc and when you click on these it does take you to my new site with a page not found message. I was wondering what I should do about this, is there a way to stop these results showing? It isn’t too bad as someone could still go to the links and get to active pages but I was a little worried that it could send people away. I am hoping you may be able to help?
I’ve been having fun with Google Analytics this week😃.
Yesterday, I needed to add statistical tracking to our Digital Education Team blogs on the University’s hosted version of WordPress. This has previously been no problem (eg with this blog), but with the new blogs, it didn’t work.
I created a new Google account for the team with our non-Gmail address, and that turned out to be fine.
I set up a Google Analytics account for the team, and that all seemed to work too.
But when I tried to connect my Analytics account to the Beehive Pro statistics plugin in the blog, it couldn’t find the website listed in my account. It said there wasn’t a ViewID. I was able to authenticate the Google account with the plugin, but the plugin couldn’t find anything in my Analytics account to associate with it.
Here is a summary of the Google Analytics account structure:
Organizations: An organization is an optional way to represent a company, which lets you access your company’s product accounts (e.g., Analytics, Tag Manager, Optimize), and manage product users, permissions, and cross-product integrations.
Accounts: You need at least one account so you can have access to Analytics, and so you can identify the properties you want to track. An account can be used to manage one or more properties.
Properties: A property is a website, mobile application, or device. When you add a property to an account, Analytics generates the tracking code that you use to collect data from that property. The tracking code contains a unique ID that identifies the data from that property, and identifies it in your reports.
Views: a View is (or was) a defined view of data from a property. Users are given access to a view so they can see the reports based on that view’s data. Analytics creates one unfiltered view for each property you add, and allows you to create more defined views using filters.
So, what could have gone wrong?
The first thing I checked was the Analytics account permissions, in case my plugin, although authenticated with Google, wasn’t actually authorised to do anything. But these all appeared to be correct: I had granted the default permission set of "Edit, Collaborate, Read & Analyse, Manage Users", so all the required permissions were there.
However, looking in the Analytics account, many things did look different from the various help and instructions available. They also looked different from my own personal account:
The Tracking info option wasn’t listed under Admin > Property.
There were no Views listed in the Admin panel, and I couldn’t see any way of adding one.
I noticed that the tracking code for my web property began with 'G-' instead of the usual 'UA-'.
There were a lot more interactions available for tracking
One of the unexpected but nice parts of my job lately has been editing the automated subtitles on some of our teaching videos.
This is a requirement for our course materials, to ensure our videos are more accessible for, for example:
Students with other hearing difficulties, for whom subtitles can help with comprehension of fast spoken or unclear dialogue, perhaps spoken with unfamiliar accents, mumbling, or with background noise
Foreign language speakers, for whom the subtitles might help with translation and following along with the spoken text
Students with learning disabilities, attention deficits, or autism, who may find subtitles help them to maintain their concentration on the videos
Students who need to study in a place where they can’t play sound
Students who need to see the spelling of proper nouns, such as full names, brand names, or technical terms
Students who just prefer to watch videos with subtitles as a habit
According to research by Ofcom in 2006, 7.5 million people in the UK (18% of the population) used closed captions, and of these, only 1.5 million were deaf or hard of hearing. 80% of those who preferred to watch with subtitles used them for other reasons.
Since we moved to hybrid learning, we have more and more teaching videos to work on, so that is an occasional silver lining to social distancing for me, as subtitling is a nice, quiet and absorbing task, and our videos are often very interesting 🙂
Because technology is often associated with flexibility and fast time, this can lead to assumptions that online learning is faster and better. Institutions need to provide education in ways that fit with the lives of individual learners, and that means restructuring teaching time in flexible and personalised ways. A key part of engaged online teaching is mitigating transactional distance by planning for how teaching can be structured in both synchronous and asynchronous ways.
Redefining Contact Time
Contact time generally refers to the tutor-mediated time allocated to teaching or providing guidance and feedback to students. There has to be a different way to define contact time online, taking into account student mobility, distance education and flexible patterns of study. Online contact time can be characterised by personalised tutor presence and input within a specified time-frame.
If any of my readers are (or know any) maths or science students who use assistive software or other assistive technology, I would love to hear from them to get their views and experiences of this. Please do get in touch - comment on any of my posts about accessibility and I'll get back to you!