Extra – Noisy Classrooms and Closed Captions

This video shows you how to use “Closed Captions”, which can be a help in ameliorating the problem of noise in a computer laboratory.

There is usually a fair amount of excitement in our classes when our students are exploring robotics using our tutorials. We generally have teams of two students per computer, so the students will get practice in working and cooperating in teams. Teamwork means a lot of verbal communication, and the consequent noise level can make it difficult for students to hear the video narration in the environment of a computer laboratory.

Some of the schools we assist have solved this by using headphones. The Tasmanian Health and Safety requirements demand that students do not share headphones, so separate headphones had to be purchased for each individual student. Also a “headphone doubler plug” device had to be purchased for each computer, so that two students could plug their headphones into one computer. Headphones can be expensive, and were often lost or damaged by students. The costs involved can mount up.

About seven years ago we started using “Closed Captions” in our tutorial videos. “Closed Captions” are titles that appear, when requested, at the bottom of the video screen. The closed caption text can either summarize, or exactly replicate, the voice on the tutorial video.

We had anticipated that these captions would also be useful to some students who had hearing difficulties. This proved to be so. We had also hoped that the Captions would provide incentive for some less able students to increase their reading ability – and observed this happening with some students. However we had not anticipated that the captions would also assist some of our “English as a Second Language” students who had good English reading ability, but who had had been taught overseas by teachers who had taught their students using an “unusual” English accent. This led us to wonder if one reason our video tutorials have had millions of hits is that these captions have also assisted students who had had problems understanding our “unusual” Tasmanian English accents. Hmmm….