Digi Know: Making videos from Box of Broadcasts more inclusive

Adding subtitles to Box of Broadcasts videos

One of the key features which makes the use of videos from Box of Broadcasts (BoB) more inclusive is to use subtitles. Most programmes on BoB have subtitles available and switching these on whenever you use videos or clips within class can mean understanding what is being said and heard easy for everyone. Simply click on the S icon once the recording has started to play.

screen grap of subtitles button in Box of Broadcasts

This can be particularly important for international students and those who are hearing impaired. It is also a good idea to highlight this feature for students so they are aware how to turn these on when they might be viewing videos outside of face-to-face sessions. Adding a small image of how this can be done next to the video clip in Course Resources might assist with this.

Accessing a transcript for a programme on Box of Broadcasts

Transcripts of most programmes are also available which can be useful for students to access in order to be able to read what has been said in their own time rather than trying to keep up with the video on screen. Where a transcript is available this can be viewed by clicking the Show Transcript button.

Show Transcript button in Box of Boradcasts

It also allows you to search the programme for key words which will be highlighted within the transcript and at the same time the video will move to this point in the video. Further uses of the word can then be cycled to using the forward and back arrows. This enables quick navigation to key points which students may want to view again.

Search transcript screen grab

Students are usually unaware of these features and it is worth highlighting these when you first use BoB whether in class or online.

Digiknow: How to use Lecture recording to support inclusive learning and teaching

room with rope barriers leading to tv

Capturing lecture content, whether in the classroom or from your desk, and making this recording available to students, can give students the opportunity to re-watch content, enhance note taking and revise topics. This assists all students not just those with additional support needs.

However, these recordings can be made more inclusive and useful to students by following a number of simple practices.

Adding notes to the slides

Adding notes to slides, whether within PowerPoint or alongside the lecture recording, can make a big difference to how inclusive this learning resource becomes. Not only does it enable the student to draw upon the key points you make during the recording it also helps to provide an alternative to a transcript of what was said. You can either add notes to the PowerPoint slides in the note section (potentially converting this into a handout) or alongside the slides in your lecture recording.

Making the slides available to download alongside the recording

Making the slides available allows students to annotate and add notes to their slides either manually or digitally. This also makes learning more flexible as some students may want to take the slides with them on the move but would not have the ability to take the recording with them. There are two ways you can add these files, either upload them in Course Resources alongside the link to the recording or add them as a PDF to the recording.

Using holding slides to help students navigate within the recording

Sometimes within a recorded session time may be taken to participate in active learning within class. This part of the lecture recording will become less useful to students. In order to help with navigating past this part of the recording, consider using a place holder slide in your presentation. This makes it easy for students to use the slider to move past this slide and therefore this part of the recording.

Using the keyword search to aid navigation within the recording

You can easily navigate through a lecture recording using the search function, which allows you to use key words to search the recording and notes to get back to specific point in the recording. It then makes where this word occurs and means you can navigate to each point within the recording.

Use the Panopto app to view recordings on your mobile device

You can download and use the Panopto app on Android and iOS (Apple) via the iPad and iPhone to view lecture recordings. This enables you to take them with you on the go.

Making students aware of these features

In order for students to take full advantage of the practices and features of lecture recording which support an inclusive learning experience it is important to inform students how to access these. It might be during the first time lecture recording is used these features are highlighted to students or this is done within a short recording supplied alongside the first lecture.

More on the accessible features of our lecture recording system

Digi Know: Mobile apps to support study skills

mobile learningThis blog post provides information about a series of mobile apps which you may find useful for notetaking, mindmapping, task management and organisation. Unless otherwise stated you should be able to get these apps on both Apple and Android devices. Just search for them in either the iTunes App store or on Google Play. These apps are all free but there may be in app purchases in order to access additional features.

Please ensure you read the terms and conditions for using the mobile app to understand the apps commitment to intellectual property rights, data protection and information security.



  • Take electronic notes combining text, images and audio.
  • Organise these into notebooks.
  • Automatically sync them across your different devices. This means you can start taking notes using your tablet and then finish these on your computer.
  • Share your notebooks with other people.
  • Create task lists to keep you organised.

Microsoft OneNote

  • Create digital notebooks which you can then access online either via an App on your mobile device or via an internet browser.
  • The University provides this to students as part of Office365.
  • Create notebooks to collect thoughts and ideas, to-do lists, capture images of documents, whiteboards, or take clips from websites.
  • Organise these within notebooks.

Google Docs (Used with Google Drive)

  • Online word processing tool which is similar to Microsoft Word but the documents are stored and accessed online.
  • Mobile app allows you to access and edit these documents online or offline and then syncs these once you are connected again.
  • Add and format text, images and drawings.
  • Use the Voice typing feature where you can speak into a microphone and have your words typed automatically.
  • Work is automatically saved for you and you can use the revision history to look at old versions of the document.
  • Share and collaborate on documents together at the same time.


  • Record up to 10 minutes of audio from your mobile device.
  • Upload an unlimited amount of clips to your profile and organise these into a set of playlists.
  • Share your clips with others via Twitter and Facebook.
  • Follow and comment on other people’s clips stored on Audioboom.
  • Audio files are publically available as there are no options for individual users to have a private channel.


  • Capture short sections of audio using a simple record button.
  • Highlight particular parts of the recording when you think ‘this is important I must make a note of this’.
  • In case you missed the first part of the idea, it will go back 15 seconds within the recording to capture what you might have missed.
  • Add important notes, photographs and visual information such as whiteboards/presentation slides within the recording.
  • Focus on what is being said instead of having to take notes.

Sketches (Apple only)

  • Draw out your notes, doodles and diagrams on your iPad or iPhone and organise these into collections.
  • Draw your sketches using a variety of different drawing tools and a wide range of colours.
  • Use patterns to fill large areas of the picture, add text and shapes to add further meaning.
  • Share your drawings via email or social media tools such as Facebook and Flickr.


Mindjet Maps

  • Create simple and complex mindmaps on your tablet.
  • Send the mindmap to yourself as a PDF file.
  • Use colours to distinguish between different ideas within the mindmap.
  • Add images/photos to the mindmap to make it more visual.
  • Add links to webpages and other online resources.

Task management and organisation


  • Create a series of to-do lists to help organise your learning tasks.
  • Receive reminders for tasks that need to be completed soon.
  • Share your lists with others and use the comments feature to communicate about shared tasks.
  • Access these lists across your different devices (e.g. on smartphone, tablet and computer).
  • Print your to do lists.


  • Create boards and cards to help organise your projects.
  • Share project board with other people or use this for group work.
  • Add checklists, labels and due dates to cards to keep track of tasks.
  • Receive notifications detailing any changes to the board or cards you are added to (this can be emailed to you).
  • Add resources to cards such as links to documents, websites and presentation slides
  • Use this to help plan assignments or manage research tasks.

Appy Monday – RefME

Banner showing Digital Derby and Appy Monday: Exploring mobile apps for learning and teaching

What is RefME?

RefME is a free tool that can be used for accurately automating citations, reference lists and bibliographies simply by scanning book or journal barcodes using your phone camera.

RefME | Free Reference Generator – Harvard, APA, MLA, Chicago… from RefME on Vimeo.

What can it do?

  • Generate references by scanning book or journal barcodes using your phone camera.
  • Search by Book/Article Title, ISBN, ISSN, DOI or URL if you don’t have a barcode
  • Generate a reference for a website by pasting in the URL
  • Add notes to your references via the app or via the website
  • Collaborate with others
  • Export your lists via email, Evernote or send directly to Word and others

Download it now

You can access it on the web or via the mobile app on Apple or Android.

How could it be used for learning, teaching and assessment?

  • Make a digital note of any academic source used when compiling course material
  • Have this list available at all times on your phone/tablet
  • Have the same list on all platforms
  • Distribute the list digitally to students or to yourself for additional course material
  • Encourage students to use it for their own purposes

Short task:

  • Create an account for RefME or use your Facebook account to login.
  • Find a book that has an academic context and a barcode
  • Open up the app and scan the barcode
  • Check that the generated reference is correct for the referencing style chosen

Important note

Before using any mobile application or online service please check the terms and conditions to ensure you are aware of the implications of using the service. In particular, look out for items covering data security, ownership of content and public/private sharing options.

Further support

If you would like further support to get an idea of how you could use RefME within learning and teaching, please contact the Technology Enhanced Learning team on tel@derby.ac.uk or ext 1865.

Digi Know: Thinking about accessibility

Access to Cloud / Ladder to Heaven

Image from: FutUndBeidl shared under CC BY 2.0

A while ago I did a series of blog posts about accessibility. I thought it might be useful to collect these together in order to highlight some of these practices. Although the Office tips refer to Office 2010 many of these features still exist within Office 2013. This is particularly important to consider as the changes to the Disabled Student Allowance are due to come in for the next academic year (16/17).

Accessibility Series: Delivering Accessible and Inclusive Blackboard Collaborate Sessions

Flower alone

Image from Doug Wheller shared under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Using Blackboard Collaborate to deliver online sessions with your students can help to bring together students at a distance whilst still enabling them to receive teaching materials and interact with each other. However, there are a few things that disabled students might find particularly challenging about accessing this type of learning opportunity.

For example:

  • Following the multiple channels of communication can be difficult especially if some of them are inaccessible to the student (e.g. audio for hearing impaired students).
  • Activities requiring immediate interaction can be more challenging for those with dexterity and spelling issues.

You may also be unaware of whether any students have a disability because they might not have disclosed this to you before the session.

In order to help remove these barriers for students it is important to think about accessibility when you are designing your session. Keeping the design of the session simple, providing easy ways for students to interact, as well as providing a balance between providing interest and ensuring content is accessible is a good starting point, however, take a look at the guidance provided below for more specific information on using Blackboard Collaborate inclusively. You might also find the Accessibility Guide for Participants useful for you and your students.

This advice has been put together based on information from the webinar held by the JISC Regional Support Centre in Wales on 29 January 2013 called ‘Webinars that work: how to minimise barriers and maximise inclusion’. Resources and a recording of this session can be found at Lunchtime Bytes 2012/13 (scroll down to the session on 29th January).

The resources have been divided into sections that look at what to do at different stages of the planning process and by disability.

General Advice

Before the session

  • Find out the needs of the students before running the session.
  • Let them know the limitations of the software.
  • Show them how to optimise the layout for their needs (Accessibility Guide for Participants).
  • Get them to test any third party tools they use to see if they work with Blackboard Collaborate, e.g. colour overlays.
  • Review your session plan and based on the needs of the students arrange any adjustments that are required.
  • Consider getting someone to type closed captions into Blackboard Collaborate – this could be a participant in the session, another tutor or someone hired for this purpose. Instructions on this can be found at Accessibility Quick Guide: Captioning in Blackboard Collaborate.

During the session

  • Check regularly that no one is having problems, as you can’t assume students will make you aware if they are.
  • Stress where in the sessions contributions are optional, so that students do not feel pressured to participate when they do not need to.
  • When getting participants to type questions into the text chat area, get them to prefix them with Q to help you and others find them more easily.
  • Get everyone involved in contributing to accessibility during the session. For instance, helping with typing closed captioning, explaining visual elements on the screen, speaking clearly and at a reasonable pace.

After the session

  • Get feedback after the event and encourage students to be open with any difficulties they faced.
  • Provide post event resources including links to recordings, transcripts and any files that were used during the session e.g. PowerPoint slides.

Specific Advice by Disability

Details about the features of Blackboard Collaborate for different disabilities can be found on this page on the Blackboard Collaborate website.

However, here are some additional things to consider when planning a Blackboard Collaborate session. It looks at the challenges faced by these students and some of the possible adjustments.

Blind or Visually Impaired


  • Does the student listen to the presenter or to the screen reader? Which is most important? There can sometimes be a conflict between the two which can be disorientating and create confusion.
  • How can the students access the visual information presented during the session?
  • Some functionality may not accessible, even using assistive technology.
  • How can the student keep up with the multiple threads of communication (text, video and sound) by sound alone?


  • Provide students with an outline and resources for the session beforehand so students know which to focus on at a particular point.
  • Check whether students are happy for others to know about their disability and how they prefer this to be explained to their fellow students.
  • If possible, test any features you intend to use with the student in advance of the session.
  • During the session, let the student know at what point they should focus on the presentation, discussion or information read out by the screen reader. They may need to silence the screenreader at particular points.
  • Try and avoid relying too heavily on the text chat, repeat any points raised here verbally so students understand what others might be responding to.
  • Describe any key content of slides, especially images, do not assume that these can be seen.
  • Build in time for aurally summarising the key points of the session so far, ask others to contribute to this to ensure you have covered everything.
  • You might consider giving the student permanent “open mike” so they can request clarification at any time.

Deaf or Hearing Impaired


  • How can the student tell what the presenter is saying? This could be the content of the session as well as the instructions on how to participate.
  • Will the students have time to make sense of text dense information? If there are closed captions, information in the text chat area and text within a presentation it can be difficult to take this all in at once and keep pace with the session.
  • For some students keeping up with the multiple information threads can be even more challenging as they are working in a second language, with their first being British Sign Language or another countries sign language.


  • Check whether students are happy for others to know about their disability and how they prefer this to be explained to their fellow students.
  • Depending on the content of the session, a presenter could work from a script which is sent to the students before the session. If they deviate from the script then this can be flagged in the chat by the facilitator.
  • For activities, during the session, consider adding the instructions to the text chat or on an activity slide (remember this can be challenging for slow readers).
  • Before the session provide students with knowledge of the terminology used during the session, as this can help with reading.
  • Ensure the images you use support the text on the slide and are not distracting.
  • Build in time for summarising, in the text chat, the key points of the session so far, ask others to contribute to this to ensure you have covered everything.
  • If you are utilising a sign language interpreter pause regularly to ensure they are given enough time to translate what you have said.
  • It may be possible to transmit a video of yourself talking so students can lip read. However, this can be made more difficult if the connection speed is slow and the video ends up being jumpy.

Specific Learning Difficulty


  • Will the students have time to make sense of text dense information? Trying to take in information in the text chat area and text within a presentation can be difficult all at once.
  • Will students be reluctant to participate in the text chat area because they fear poor spelling and typing speed?


  • Check whether students are happy for others to know about their disability and how they prefer this to be explained to their fellow students.
  • Reassure students that it is the value of the contribution over correct typing or spelling which is important.
  • Depending on the content of the session, a presenter could send text dense information out to the students before the session.
  • Ensure the images you use support the text on the slide and are not distracting.
  • Build in time for aurally summarising the key points of the session so far, ask others to contribute to this to ensure you have covered everything.
  • Give the option for students to use the open mike for questions or comments, they may feel more confident using this than the text chat.
  • Consider using an easy to read font and text size to make this easier to access for students.

Physical Impairment


  • Will the student be able to fully participate if they only have keyboard access to all functions?
  • How will the students cope with the speed of writing needed to contribute and the need to navigate between different tools to contribute to multiple threads?


  • Check whether students are happy for others to know about their disability and how they prefer this to be explained to their fellow students.
  • Depending on the content of the session, a presenter could send any resources to the student before the session so they can prepare for what they might want to say.
  • Build in time for aurally summarising the key points of the session so far, ask others to contribute to this to ensure you have covered everything (navigation may be trickier without a mouse).
  • Give the option for students to use the open mike for questions or comments, they may feel more confident using this than the text chat.

Key Points

There are a number of key points to take away from the information in this blog post.


Promote an open dialogue with your students about their needs. The more open they are about their requirements, the more you can ensure that any adjustments you make are supportive of their needs rather than introducing additional barriers. They may already know what works for them, so you will not have to try lots of different things to find the right approach.


As with most things preparation is the key. Make sure that you have considered the needs of your students well in advance of the session and make the resources you are planning to use available to them in advance.

Follow-up resources

Make sure you follow up the session by sending out any resources linked to the session e.g. transcripts, recordings, resources and links. To continue promoting an open dialogue with your students, provide them with an opportunity to provide feedback about the session and encourage them to let you know whether they experienced any problems accessing the content or the activities.

Accommodations help all

Remember that many of the suggestions made here can help all students and if the accommodation is detrimental to others then it is the wrong one.

Accessibility Series: Evaluating the accessibility of electronic resources

Done and not done-2This final post in the accessibility series looks at approaches for evaluating the electronic learning resources you have created.

There are a number of ways that you can evaluate the accessibility of the resources that you have created. Some of these are quick and easy to implement whilst in-depth approaches will require time and extra resources.

These methods cannot guarantee that the resource is accessible to every possible student but they can help to identify accessibility issues with the resource. All of these techniques require human judgement to ensure that the quality of the accessibility practices can be assessed not just the technical aspects.

Automatic checking tools

These tools can help you to identify technical accessibility issues with your resources. They should be used with the guidelines to incorporate human judgement. For example they cannot check that images have ‘appropriate’ alternative text, just that they ‘have’ alternative text.

Microsoft Office Accessibility Checker

This tool comes with Microsoft Office 2010 and can be found in Word, PowerPoint and Excel. Once run it identifies:

  • Errors – given for content which makes a file very difficult or impossible for some disabled people to understand.
  • Warnings – given for content that in most, but not all, cases makes a file difficult for disabled people to understand.
  • Tips – given for content that disabled people can understand, but that might be better organized or presented in a way that would maximize their experience.

(Microsoft, 2013)

It takes you to the place in the document that the error occurs and provides advice on how to fix it.

For more information on how to use the accessibility checker in Office 2010 take a look at this guide.

Adobe Acrobat Accessibility Check

Adobe Acrobat Professional, available to install on staff computers from UoD Software as part of the Adobe CS6 Master Collection and also for home use from the Derby Teacher Superstore, provides an excellent tool for checking the accessibility of PDF documents.

Using the Accessibility Checker you can run either a quick or full check to pick up on areas within the document which may cause an issue for disabled students. Take a look at this guide for more information on using the Accessibility Checker in Adobe Acrobat Professional.

Without Adobe Acrobat Professional your options for checking the accessibility of PDFs may be limited. However, if you want to know if there is a problem then you can use the Quick Accessibility Check in Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is installed on most machines.

To do this:

  1. Open the PDF in Adobe Reader.
  2. Click on Edit.
  3. Select Accessibility.
  4. Select Quick Check.
  5. The check only identifies issues one at a time, so if there is a problem an error message will come up. Unfortunately this will not provide information on how to fix the problem identified.

If you find errors then you might want to refer back to the guidance on Creating accessible Word documents, Creating accessible PowerPoint presentations and Creating accessible PDF documents.

Student feedback

Student feedback is one of the best ways to evaluate a resource for its accessibility. Not only will it give you an idea of how useful the students find it but also whether they have any problems accessing it or the information it contains.

It is a good idea to create an open dialogue with students about online resources. This means that they can feel comfortable about raising any problems they have and that you are responsive to their needs.

Here are some useful questions to ask students when they are reviewing a resource:

  • Did you have any problems accessing or finding the resource? If so what?
  • Did you have any problems viewing the information in the resource? If so what?
  • What aspects of the resource did you find useful?


Microsoft (2013) Check for accessibility issues [online], http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/word-help/check-for-accessibility-issues-HA010369192.aspx (accessed 20 January 2013).

I hope that you have enjoyed the post on accessibility, some of these resources have now been put onto our website within the Inclusive Teaching Practices resources and can be found in the section on Creating accessible electronic learning resources.

Accessibility Series: Alternative Formats

Cupcake Assortment

Image from: Cat shared under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

This post looks at the importance of alternative formats to make resources more accessible to students.

Alternative formats could be provided if there is no way to make a resource accessible to all potential students. Below are some examples of the alternative formats you may need to supply:

  • Microsoft Word versions of PDF documents.
  • Microsoft Word versions of PowerPoint presentations.
  • Alternative text of images, charts, graphs and tables provided in documents, presentations and VLE (Blackboard/Course Resources) content areas.
  • Transcripts for audio.
  • Closed captioning or transcripts for video content.
  • Audio descriptions for video content explaining the visual elements of a video.

More guidance on alternative formats is available from the Office for Disability Issues’ page on alternative formats.

The next blog post will look at the approaches you can use for evaluating the accessibility of your electronic learning materials.

Accessibility Series: PDF Documents

PDF Book

Image from: Uncalno shared under CC BY 2.0

This post looks at guidelines for making PDF documents more accessible to students.

Some of the points are linked to help guides, which explain how to implement the recommendation.

For further guidance on making PDF documents accessible take a look at the following resources:

The next blog post will look at providing alternative formats for electronic learning materials.

Accessibility Series: Microsoft Office PowerPoint Presentations

Peacock in Portugal

Image from: Wouter Beckers shared under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

This post looks at guidelines for making Microsoft PowerPoint Presentations more accessible to students.

This page provides general guidance on making PowerPoint presentations more accessible. Some of the points are linked to help guides, which explain how to implement the recommendation.

For further guidance on making PowerPoint Presentations accessible take a look at the following resources:

The next blog post will look at how to make PDF documents more accessible.