New Video Tools for Course Content Development

Looking for a new and easy to use tool to create closed captions for video content you author for your course(s)? ¬†There’s a few new tools just out this Fall 2017 term that area available to all University faculty (full time, online, part time, hybrid, extend ed, etc.)

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If you’re the kind that likes to figure things out yourself. Check out the links below and get to work:

  • Microsoft Stream
  • Screencast-O-Matic

The two services both provide means for creating closed captions, though they are not designed to do so exclusively.

Microsoft Stream

Microsoft Stream is provided to University faculty as part of the Microsoft licensing enjoyed and provisioned by the University Information Technology office. ¬†You can login here, using your University credentials to explore the service. ¬†Think of Stream as an exclusive video streaming service that’s specific to and for exclusive use by University students, faculty and staff. Stream is similar to Microsoft’s other service, Microsoft Video which is similarly included in the Office365 service and related licensing. Stream does not permit any uploaded video to be set to ‘public’ access – only those associated directly with the University can be permitted to see video content. A more exhaustive review of the service is available here.

To leverage the captioning function follow these steps:

  1. Update_video__DOE_20170915PD_Supporting_University_Adjuncts____Microsoft_Stream_ūüĒäLogin and upload a video asset to the service using your University login credentials
  2. Depending upon the audio quality (including voice diction, pronunciation and related sound fidelity) and file length, the service will produce a caption file in about 20 minutes. ¬†This is done through a voice to text detection algorithm, so it won’t be perfect, but it may be better than typing things up yourself.
  3. You can then pair the caption file with Warpwire, YouTube, or even just provide it as a rough transcript of the content in your course.

Screencast-O-Matic

Screencast-O-Matic has long been used by University faculty for face to face and online courses. ¬†What’s new is the pairing of the Pro level of service with a Google speech to text engine, which works much the same way Microsoft’s Stream does. ¬†The difference here however is that the Pro level of service from SOM allows you to edit the caption from right within the program. ¬†Microsoft’s Stream doesn’t permit easy editing of the captions, unless you download the caption VTT file and then hunt through this kind of mess to fix misspelled words, inaccuracies and complete blunders accordingly:

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To get more information on how to access the closed captioning feature in SOM, check out these tutorial videos:

If you have questions about using Screencast-O-Matic, or need directions on how to access the Pro service so you can access the editing function, record beyond 15 minutes and use the annotation tools contact the Department of Online Education.

For more information, faculty and course designers can contact the Department of Online Education.  Bear in mind, you need not wait to have a focused need based on enrollment in order to begin captioning course content you author.

Why would I use one service over the other?

  • If you already have a video in need of captions – look to use Microsoft Stream to create captions quickly.
  • If you are getting ready to create video content – and can do so, type out or correct the captions produced by Screencast-O-Matic.
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Posted in Faculty, How To

Online Video Tutorial Authoring – Quick Overview

As an instructional designer a key component to my work is creating instructional videos. ¬†While many platforms, software and workflows exist here’s the workflow I use:

    1. Write the Script: ¬†This first step is critical though to some it may seem rather artificial. ¬†Writing the script helps guide and direct the rest of the video development process. If the video is part of a larger series, inclusion of some ‘standard’ text at the beginning and end of the video helps keep things consistent. ¬†For example, in the tutorial videos created for our Online Instructor Certification Course, each script begins and ends with “This is a Johnson University Online tutorial.” Creating a script also helps insure you include all the content you need to, rather than ad-libbing – only to realize later you left something out.As the script is written, particular attention has to be paid to consistency of wording and verification of the steps suggested to the viewer – so they’re easy to follow and replicate. Some of the script work also involves set up of the screens used – both as part of the development process and as part of making sure the script is accurate.

 

  1. Build the Visual Content: This next step could be wildly creative – but typically a standard format is chosen, especially if the video content will be included in a series or block of other videos. ¬†Often, use of a 16:9 aspect ratio is used for capturing content and can include both text and image content more easily. Build the content using a set of tools you’re familiar with. The video above was built using the the following set of tools:
    • Microsoft Word (for writing the script)
    • Microsoft PowerPoint (for creating a standard look, and inclusion of visual and textual content – it provides a sort of stage for the visual content)
    • Google Chrome (for demonstrating specific steps – layered on top of Microsoft PowerPoint) – though any browser would work
    • Screencast-O-Matic (Pro version for recording all visual and audio content)
    • Good quality microphone such as this one
    • Evernote’s Skitch (for grabbing and annotating screenshots), though use of native screenshot functions and using PowerPoint to annotate is also OK
    • YouTube or Microsoft Stream (for creating auto-generated captions – if it’s difficult to keep to the original script)
    • Notepad, TextEdit or Adobe’s free Brackets for correcting/editing/fixing auto-generated captions VTT, SRT or SBV
    • Warpwire to post/stream/share/place and track video content online. ¬†Sakai is typically used as the CMS to embed the content and provide additional access controls and content organization
  2. Record the Audio: Screencast-O-Matic has a great workflow for creating video content and it even provides a way to create scripts and captions. I tend to record the audio first, which in some cases may require 2 to 4 takes. Recording the audio initially, provides a workflow to create appropriate audio pauses, use tangible inflection and enunciation of terms. For anyone who has created a ‘music video’ or set images to audio content this will seem pretty doable.
  3. Sync Audio and Visual Content: So this is where the use of multiple tools really shines. Once the audio is recorded, Screencast-O-Matic makes it easy to re-record retaining the audio portion and replacing just the visual portion of the project. Recording  the visual content (PowerPoint and Chrome) is pretty much just listening to the audio and walking through the slides and steps using Chrome. Skitch or other screen capture software may have already been used to capture visual content I can bring attention to in the slides.
  4. Once the project is completed, Screencast-O-Matic provides a 1 click upload to YouTube or save as an MP4 file, which can then be uploaded to Warpwire or Microsoft Stream.
  5. Once YouTube or Microsoft Stream have a viable caption file, it can be downloaded and corrected (as needed) and then paired back with any of the streaming platforms.
  6. Post of the video within the CMS is as easy as using the LTI plugin (via Warpwire) or by using the embed code provided by any of the streaming platforms.
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Posted in Faculty, How To, Sakai

Sakai Status – 10 May 2017 UPDATE

An earlier reported issue of the Sites button and related Favorites list has been resolved as of 1:25pm EST.

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Remember – there are several ways to get to your course sites:

  • Use of the Sites button (waffle icon) in the top right
  • Use of the Favorites (starred) sites in the Sites Favorites tab
  • Use Overview>Membership to see all course sites
  • Use Overview>My Worksite Setup to navigate to course sites

If you continue to experience issues, be sure to log out and/or restart your device and then contact the HelpDesk if you continue to experience problems.

Posted in Faculty, Sakai, Students

Sakai Status – 10 May 2017

Some faculty and students have reported an issue with Sakai’s Sites button and Favorites list. ¬†The issue has been identified and is being worked on presently. ¬†Faculty and students can still access their courses by using Overview>Membership after logging in:

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A status with new information will be posted as soon as it’s available.

Posted in Faculty, Sakai, Students

Take away to Help Students in Course Sites

Just as it’s important at the end of the term or session to turn in grades to the Registrar’s Office via my.johnsonu.edu – it’s important to close out course sites in Sakai, specifically to unpublish them.

sitepublishstatus

The immediate question I typically get from faculty is, “Why?” Well here’s a few reasons:

  • Keeps you and students organized. ¬†Sakai provides all users with the ability to favorite sites (place a star next to them using the Sites button) per user. Favorite sites appear in the top blue banner of Sakai. Leaving sites in a published state, crowds out and creates confusion for students.
  • Helps protect against plagiarism and cheating. By unpublishing course sites you protect your own courses and similar or identical courses taught by other instructors from students being tempted to or fully deciding to share their papers or assessments with other students who may be taking the course in the future.
  • Sakai doesn’t automatically surface or show the most current term courses (though this has been discussed as a feature to implement), so it’s important to unpublish courses so students are less confused about where to look for their current courses.

Unpublishing a course takes about 7 seconds:

  1. In the course site go to Site Info
  2. In Site Info select “Manage Access”
  3. Change the selection from “Publish site – accessible to all site participants” to “Leave as Draft – accessible only to site maintainers”
  4. Select Update

Unpublishing a course doesn’t remove your (instructor) access to a course site, it only does so for students who were officially enrolled in the course. Student’s data (grades, forum posts, assignments) will all remain in the course site. By design, Sakai does not delete data – several protections are put in place to prevent or wholly disallow data removal.

There’s obvious room for leaving some course sites published – esp. at the graduate or PhD level, but by and large, most sites should be unpublished at the end of each term or session – a few days or weeks following the official end date of the course.

Posted in Faculty, Sakai

AWS Reports Issue Resolved

According Amazon’s Dashboard (screenshot below), the issue which affected some portions of access to course sites in Sakai has been resolved (5:08 EST).

screenshot-2017-02-28-20-08-47

Faculty and students are encouraged to continue to working in Sakai normally. If you experience any issues logging in, accessing course content, submitting grades or assignments, to contact the HelpDesk. Students experiencing issues related to submitting assignments, discussions, tests or quizzes late should contact their course instructor for direction on how to proceed.

 

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Posted in Faculty, News, Sakai, Students

What does Amazon have to do with Sakai?

amazonA lot of people seem to be asking this question. ¬†Most students (and faculty) tend to think of Amazon as the online equivalent of Walmart (though Walmart has it’s own online presence) – as just a seller of retail items. ¬†Amazon however is far more.

sticker375x360Amazon not only sells retail items (and space) it also provides internet services or hosting for thousands of companies, institutions and other entities. ¬†This hosting essentially allows and provides easy, fast and often redundant access to content on a global scale through something called a content delivery network. ¬†Essentially through an extreme set of complex algorithms, security and other layers the paper just submitted in your course ‘lives’ on an Amazon web server through their S3 platform (Simple Storage Service). It was most evident to me in my role with the university when I noticed images in courses ‘disappearing’.

Think of it this way. Lets say you’re going to a friends house for dinner – they’re hosting you. They ask you to come over to see them. They even tell you that their niece, Nozama is going to be bringing desert in the form of those¬†great scout cookies you enjoy so much. You arrive on time to the dinner and everything seems to be going just fine until it’s time for desert. Sadly, your friend tells you, Nozama couldn’t bring the cookies just yet, because her parents car had trouble on the way over. Sadly (presently) the cookies you love so much are missing in action.

In some ways you could look at this as the host’s problem is that the host of the cookies is having a problem. ¬†For more on understanding the nuts and bolts of hosts, check out this explainer from CommonCraft.

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Posted in Faculty, Sakai