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: Battle of the Forms – Google V Office 365


So, back in June Microsoft released Forms in Office 365 for Education, which fulfilled a gap in the Microsoft product range that Google had been offering since 2012. Using forms is a quick and easy way to create a survey or quiz and be able to analyse and evaluate responses almost immediately.

Microsoft are still relatively behind in developing this technology and currently only provide it for education, not the general public or for enterprise. However on the plus side one can fully integrate all Microsoft products now without relying on external sources such as Google Forms or Surveymonkey, this is a big plus where consistency is essential.

Let’s compare the 2 products:


In my experience of using forms (Google) in the classroom, being able to provide a visual alongside a Question has been vital in providing test questions and so Microsoft not offering this simple option in their forms product is a big oversight and something that I hope will be added soon. The possibilities that Forms opens up in a classroom setting, alongside other Office 365 products such as OneNote and the Class Notebook is encouraging to a more dynamic approach providing a synergism between the Tutor and the Student.

I did experience some further frustration the other day when a colleague asked me to share with her a form I had created in Office 365 Forms. After about 5 minutes of clicking (and swearing) I Googled (Oh…the irony) the problem. You cannot have a co-author or collaborate on one form in Office 365 forms, hmmm bit of a problem when collaboration is key to good academic practice!

The ability to Upload Files in Google Forms is, in my opinion, a massive game changer. As a long time user of the Google for Education suite this feature embodies what Google Apps for Education is about and that’s a seamless integration of the products into a student’s user experience.

Come on Microsoft, I’m batting for your team now!

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.

5 simple ways you can use video in your teaching

Using video can be a great way to add something extra to your teaching, and it can serve a multitude of purposes, from visualising tough concepts to bringing real life scenarios into the classroom.

At the University of Derby we create many different educational videos to enhance the courses we offer and are lucky enough to have an in-house production team to support this (which includes me!). We also encourage academics to produce their own content and the examples below are all things that could be made with the tools most people will have access to already, like a smartphone, iPad or a laptop.

So, here are 5 simple ways that you can use video in your teaching:

1. Interviewing experts

Bringing outside expertise to your students can be used to prompt discussion or thinking about new ideas. When we have guest speakers at Derby we often ask them to talk to us on camera, and they are usually more than happy to provide extra insight for our students. Interviews like this can be done very quickly and it gives you the chance to ask questions which relate directly to your students or course.

Here’s two examples of expert interviews that have been made recently for our students. The first is a discussion based interview and the second is a more traditional off-camera interview.

I’ve set this to start at 12m55s in:

2. Record your lectures

Why not record what you’re already doing. Lecture recording has many benefits: It creates revision aids, allows students to catch up after authorised absence and can be a great help to learners with English as a second language.

Here’s an example made using our lecture recording system: Electronics Revision Lecture

3. Demonstration videos

Sometimes students may not have the chance to take in a demonstration fully or may need to review aspects of a complicated process. Demonstration videos provide a resource which students can access over and over again, allowing them to pause and review content at their own pace.

Here’s an example made with a visualiser:

4. Student projects

Giving students a video project can sound a bit daunting but you may be surprised by the results. It can inspire creativity in students and give them new skills which increase employability. Resources like the Adobe Education Exchange have communities of educators who share multimedia projects they have had successes with and is well worth checking out.

Video can also be used to capture students reflections on their learning and can be a help to the following year’s cohort when tackling the same projects.

Here’s an example of student reflection:

5. Screencasts

Recording your computer screen and adding commentary to create a screencast can be used in many different ways. You could talk students through an online process or demonstrate a piece of software. Some of our own academics even use this to provide feedback on assignments.

Here’s an example in which we talk students through our our email system:

Whilst some of these examples have been made using professional equipment, you could create good content using a smartphone or an iPad. A 30 second video filmed on a smartphone could give students that vital extra information they need or help them visualise a concept they are struggling with.

….and don’t forget these are reusable resources, content like this can be used across many different related modules and for as long as it remains relevant. That same 30 second video could help thousands of students over many years.

Why not think about how you could use video in your course, everyone has that one question or topic that students ask about over and over again. Maybe a video is the key to helping them.

Follow @DerbyMediaTeam

The Media Production and Support team at the University of Derby can help create a wide range of effective video, audio and multimedia products for your course and also offer training in creating your own content and recording your lectures. This is a free service we offer to our academic staff.

If you would like to speak to someone about creating content for your course or undertaking training, please contact: r.higson@derby.ac.uk or visit http://www.derby.ac.uk/lei/media

Visualise this!

Those of you that know me will know that I have something of a soft spot for visualisers. The fact that not every classroom has one of these built into it does actually bring a small tear to my eye. The common data projector (death by PowerPoint aside) has in my opinion achieved a lot in its quest to replace the ever ageing overhead projector.

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