Monday, January 10, 2011

To have captioned is better

Manger est bon
Mais avoir manger est meilleur.

My dad would say the above on occasion. My mom, a French teacher, would wince. It is not very good usage. The literal translation is: "To eat is good, to have eaten is better."

I've taken that idea and applied it to captioning of video rendered in YouTube. I've done a bunch of that quite recently. Here are some observations about the captioning activity and the videos themselves based on that effort.

Captioning is tedious but you do get better at it over time. The expression "captioning is good" does not refer to the tedium but to the social desirability of the activity. The prime reason to do so comes from a need to make the videos accessible. But I wonder whether students who are not hard of hearing will also benefit and, indeed, if making the transcripts available will have a fundamental effect on their note taking activity.

The expression "to have captioned is better" refers to the sense of accomplishment after this is done and the tedium is in the past. That sense of accomplishment extends to the following:
  • The videos are not slickly produced. There are mistakes in them. The are "ums" (which are not captioned). This is the way I go about explaining the economics when speaking. So there is a sense of reality to the videos in that.
  • I didn't produce a script first. This is most notable in the way sentences start. Many begin with "And" or "So"which is a terrible way to write. But aloud this helps put a flow to the ideas.
  • The pace at which I talk is uneven, sometimes very fast, other times with a substantial pause. I believe that quick speech indirectly conveys enthusiasm for the subject.
  • There is mumbling on occasion. This happens after I detect an error being made. I shouldn't have made the error, but I did. Here the captioning might help the student who otherwise wouldn't get what is in the mumble.
  • There are some standard phrases across the videos. I usually start with "Alright" or "Okay" for reasons I'm not quite sure. This is quite ingrained as is my concluding sentence, "And there you have it."
One other reason for doing is this because I'd like to see students do likewise and make their own videos with captions, so the content they produce has re-use value. I wonder if that will ever become the norm.

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