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ADCET, ATEND and NCSEHE Webinar: Mainstreaming Captions for Online Lectures in Higher Education in Australia

Event Details
Online webinar
8 November 2017 3:36 am

The Australian Disability Clearinghouse on Education and Training (ADCET) and the Australian Tertiary Education Network on Disability (ATEND), in partnership with the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education (NCSEHE) were pleased to bring you this free webinar “Mainstreaming Captions for Online Lectures in Higher Education in Australia – Alternative approaches to engaging with video content” presented by Dr Mike Kent and Associate Professor Katie Ellis.

In Australian universities, many courses provide lecture notes as a standard learning resource; however, captions and transcripts of these lectures are not usually provided unless requested by a student through dedicated disability support officers. As a result, to date their use has been limited. However, while the requirement for—and benefits of—captioned online lectures for students with disabilities is widely recognised, these captions or transcripts might also represent further opportunity for a personalised approach to learning for the mainstream student population. This presentation reports findings of research assessing the usefulness of captioned recorded lectures as a mainstream learning tool.

When we set out to investigate the ways diverse groups of students could utilise captioned lectures if they were offered it as a mainstream learning tool rather than a feature only disabled students could request, existing research suggested that many accommodations designed to assist students with disabilities actually benefit the entire cohort. The results of the study confirmed this was also the case for captioning.

However, currently, lecture captions are typically utilised in Australian higher education settings only as an assistive technology for students with disabilities, particularly students who are D/deaf or hard of hearing. In these circumstances, the student must undertake a lengthy process months in advance to ensure timely access to essential captioned material. Mainstreaming the provision of captions and transcripts for online lectures would greatly increase the accessibility of online learning — removing these barriers allows education providers to harness the broad potential of captioning technology. Indeed, ensuring that captions were available “by default” would benefit the educational outcomes and self-determination of the wide range of students who could benefit from this technology.

Lecture captioning and transcription is increasingly cost-effective, given technological developments in speech-to-text or automatic speech recognition software, and the increasing re-use of content across different iterations of a unit in online higher education courses. At the same time, international trends in online education—not least the rapidly evolving interpretations of international legislation—provide new incentives for educational providers to begin addressing accessibility shortcomings by incorporating captions and transcripts into the basic materials of a course.



Dr Mike Kent is the head of department and a senior lecturer in the Department of Internet Studies at Curtin University. Dr Kent’s main research interests focus on the two overlapping areas of people with disability and their access to communications technology as well as tertiary and online education. He is co-author, with Katie Ellis, of Disability and New Media, (Routledge 2011), and co-editor (with Tama Leaver) of An Education in Facebook? Higher Education and the World’s Largest Social Network (Routledge, 2014). His current research includes the forthcoming books Massive Open Online Courses and Higher Education: Where to Next? (Routledge) with Rebecca Bennett and Chinese Social Media Today: Critical Perspectives (Routledge) with Katie Ellis and Jian Xu.

Associate Professor Katie Ellis is Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Internet Studies at Curtin University and the convener of the Curtin University Critical Disability Research Network. She has worked with people with disabilities in government, academia and the community and has convened disability research advisory panels. She has authored and edited nine books and numerous articles on the topic, including an award winning paper on accessible learning platforms for students with disabilities and how these can be effectively used by mainstream students. She began a Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) in 2013 to investigate the impacts of the changing television environment on the social inclusion and exclusion of people with disabilities.

Posted 3 November 2017