Friday, February 3, 2012

Tools and Techniques for Improving Learning and Course Accessibility for all Learners

How might we make our classes more accessible? Why not think about recording and capturing the lesson and providing a transcript.

You can simple start this by using a lapel mic, headset with mic, any type of digital recorder (iPod with voice recorder, iPhone, iTouch) or moving to the more hands-on approach of using Garageband, Audacity, a narrated Powerpoint, Power Sound Editor 1, or mp3DirectCut. Some institutions may have available applications such as Blackboard Collaborate11, Mediasite, Tegrity Campus, Echo 360, Panopto, GoToMeeting, GoToWebinar, or Camtasia Relay. The nice feature of these applications is that they are full-service, meaning they capture, compress, and synchronize with little more than a few clicks.

Once you record or capture the lecture in a digital format, the next step in making your content more accessible is to transcribe what you said. This step can often be costly, time consuming, and difficult – but not impossible.

Keith Bain (a thought leader in this area) suggested recently that faculty consider CapScribe, Dragon Naturally Speaking, Media Access Generator (MAGpie), or InqScribe as tools for converting speech to text. Many computer operating systems also include a built-in function to convert speech to text.

If you wish to take a short-cut and want to add engaging content to supplement your course, I suggest using NBC Learn to compliment to your lesson plan. The nice feature of using NBC Learn is that they have already provided the recording, video narration, and full transcription. They even include study cards!

In addition to the accessibility factor, the latest neuroscience research tells us that we learn best when we repeat events over and over in our mind, when we couple the experience with other senses or emotions, and when we struggle with new information or information that is contradictory to what we previously believed. Therefore, to help all learners, we may strive to provide multiple means to digesting course content and reinforce learning by providing audio or transcription.

The literature supports this assertion and suggests that students who use multimedia to study do better on quizzes and exams than students who do not reinforce the experience. Moreover, when it comes to accessibility, it is not an option, it is a legal requirement. So go ahead - Create a voice recording, a podcast, a narration of your power points and providing a transcript of your event. You might find that your students remember, learn, and begin to build a strong foundation to scaffold more complex thinking.

Bain, Keith., is associated with the Liberated Learning Consortium and adjunct professor at Canada's Saint Mary's University.

Bart, Mary


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