No, really… I can’t hear you (or, The Funniest Thing on YouTube)

Want to see something really funny on YouTube?  I’m not talking mild chuckle funny, I’m talking about side-splitting, laugh until you cry funny?  While videos of screaming goats are always good for a belly laugh, but if you want to guffaw, check out your own videos.  Yup.  The ones starring you.  The ones where you provide detailed instruction or the ones where you are discussing some heavy topic in great detail.  Those videos.  Yeah.  They’re a riot.  To see the “funny” version of your video, play the video with the closed captioning turned on.  Unless you’ve done the work to correct the closed captioning, you will be amused by YouTube’s automated closed captions and how YouTube thinks it knows what you’re saying.

They can be terribly funny…. to everyone except the hearing impaired.  To those of us who are deaf, partially deaf, or have less-than-perfect hearing, YouTube can be one of the most frustrating places on the web to visit.  (Full disclosure…. I’m deaf in one ear and have a cochlear implant which helps me to a certain degree, but in order to fully understand what’s being said in many videos, I have to turn on closed captioning.)


That’s me, and my Cochlear receiver (aka the outside part of my “robot ear”)

So what is to be done??

Two simple steps can be taken to ensure that your message is communicated clearly to those who have hearing impairments.

First, if the video is a screen-capture that contains instructions on how to complete a certain task, include text in the video itself.  I use Camtasia, which includes a plethora of “call-outs” and other ways to add text to videos, but the option to add text to the video is available with most video editors.

Second, if something is important enough to distribute (via Twitter or in a blog post), then take the time to edit the closed captions.  YouTube’s machine captioning provides a reasonable starting point, but it misses a lot of the nuance.  Punctuation is practically non-existent in YouTube’s auto-generated captions, and if you have a particularly long video, it may take extra time to get it just exactly perfect.  But it’s worth it!

Sure, I realize that you may not have time to go perfect every little detail, but if the message so important enough that you created a video, shouldn’t it be equally important to reach all people?

So that’s my rant for now…. Perhaps my next task is to create a video showing how to edit captions on YouTube videos.

As always, questions, comments, concerns, or (gentle) criticisms are welcome.


Innovations 2013: Day 1 – Session 3 – 360° Student Services: Engaging Online Students From Prospect to Degree

SinclairOnline is one of those programs I really admire. They’ve built a strong set of programs with a variety of degrees and certificates available fully online. I actually saw their presentation at ITC in 2012, but wanted to see what has changed since I last saw them.

Creating a fully online student support system isn’t easy.

First, it’s critical to evaluate the entire progression of a student, from initial admission to graduation. Each step of the process was evaluated to find bottlenecks in the process.

Then, they analyzed who their students are to determine which students needed the most attention and most assistance navigating the system and developed a three-tier system

Tier one: non-local learners, first year experience students, at-risk students who are fully online (Developmental, Academic Intervention, or Academic Probation)
Tier two: fully online students who don’t fit into tier one.
Tier three: students who have some on-campus classes and some online courses

Once they figured out what they needed to do, and who they needed to serve first, it was time to implement a solution.

Used two pieces of internally developed software called SSP (Student Success Plan) and MAP Maker to develop system to track students.

SSP (an open source program) collects personal and demographic information from students, including data on student goals, challenges (child care issues, physical health issues, etc), and previous academic performance. After intake, students are given an action plan which provides them with a plan of action. Record also includes a journal in which all interactions with students are recorded. SSP is integrated into Colleague so advisors/academic coaches can have all information into one place and make best decisions on how to advise students. Also includes early alert system which gives academic coach the ability to know how students are doing throughout the semester. Robust reporting functions are include as well.

MAP Maker allows coaches/advisors to create an academic map for students so that students can see what courses they need to take each semester and develop a plan of action for their entire time at the school. MAP Maker integrates directly into SSP and is scheduled to go open source in July 2013.

Other services…

Navigating SinclairOnline: seven-step interactive guided tour of all aspects of SinclairOnline and includes a contact form and an embedded enrollment checklist which gives students step-by-step instructions on what they need to do to get started.

Required Orientation: 1 to 3 hour course “How to Succeed in an Online Course” which must be completed prior to registration for online courses. 4 sections and 10 self-assessments including technical tutorials on using ANGEL and performing normal day-to-day activities. Upon completion of course, students receive certificate of completion and are allowed to register within a matter of minutes.

Wrapping up….

This innovative system represents a shift from an institution-centric to a student-centric approach to providing student services.

its a lot of work, but it seems to be an excellent way to provide full service support to students from the moment of admission to the moment of graduation, and beyond.