Category Archives: YouTube

The Anonymity Factor

Just because somebody’s thoughts are anonymous doesn’t meant that they don’t hold value. Take these other famous anonymous phrases for example:

  • “The best way to predict your future is to create it.” Anon
  • “Don’t let yourself forget what it’s like to be sixteen.” Anon
  • “Encouraged people achieve the best; dominated people achieve second best; neglected people achieve the least.” Anon
  • “Failure is not the worst thing in the world. The very worst is not to try.” Anon

All of which could be considered to be relevant to working in the education sector.

When videoing our stakeholder interviews, one person requested not to have their videos put up on YouTube (which of course is their right). This stakeholder had some very interesting views regarding curriculum design so I didn’t feel that it was fair to discard them. If you have read our blog about you will see that here at T-SPARC we see barriers like this as more of a challenge and will do our best to avert them and try to be inclusive of everyone, after all we aim to be Agile and Responsive as our title suggests.

I found after following a link to ‘TAG’ by UCLan on Twitter. This link led me to find a rather humorous video on plagiarism, after which had an advert for Xtranormal. I decided to explore the site and found that it would be a great way to make anonymous stakeholder videos. 

Take a look at our anonymous stakeholder below, talking about holistic and distributed approaches to curriculum design. This is on YouTube, with the captions created in Overstream.


T-SPARC’s most useful websites of 2009

printed internetHappy new year to you all! As 2009 has now come to a close we thought it was appropriate to have a look back at all the wonderful technologies we have found throughout the last year. Below I have listed some of the Internet based tools and sites we have come across when exploring options for disseminating the activity of the T-SPARC project.

Random Useful websites

• Zamzar –
Free online file converter. A life saver when your ‘PDF’ really needs to be a ‘JPEG’ for your blog!

• Tiny url – and –
Both equally good for cutting down URLs for ‘no mess’ tweets and blogs. Although Tweetdeck has its own ‘URL shortener’

• TED –
‘Ideas worth spreading’ indeed! Some free lectures/ speeches/ talks from some truly inspiring and fascinating people on a variety of topics.

Video sites

• YouTube –
All T-SPARC’s stakeholder videos in one place (including xtranormal videos and captions)

• Xtranormal –
This is an excellent tool for anonymity of our stakeholders in interviews. Also great that it is compatible with ‘YouTube’ and ‘Overstream’.

• Overstream –
Overstream is a fantastic tool for captioning videos to create greater accessibility. To find out more about T-SPARC’s use of ‘Overstream’ read this blog:

Twitter and other sites

• Twitter –
Twitter is a new and innovative way to connect with like minded people and has proved invaluable in creating an online community here at Birmingham City University. It is a quick and easy way to communicate with only 140 characters available in a tweet  so your message must be quite concise. I feel that it is best used in a project management style to update stakeholders on the project’s progress and to also send out links to the project blog or other informative websites.

• TweepML –
A very useful way to keep lists of people from certain groups. The above link is a list of all the ‘tweeters/ twitterers/ tweeple’ in Design Cluster B, and here is a list from Birmingham City University

• Tweetdeck –
A superb way to manage more than one Twitter account, with quick and easy viewing of direct messages and mentions and a facility to search for words, phrases and hash tags, as well as a ‘URL shortener’.


Other T-SPARC sites

• Flickr –
A place to keep all of the project’s photos and pictures. We’re hoping to add a lot more to this over the coming months.

• Netvibes –
Netvibes has proved to be one of the most useful tools that I have found. Through this marvellous site I have built our own web page for T-SPARC which brings all the information and technologies we need together. I have created 3 tabs: ‘T-SPARC’,  which has the T-SPARC blog, our Flickr and YouTube accounts all easily accessible as well as education news websites and Birmingham City University website. There is also a ‘Twitter tab’ which has links to #dcb09 and #jisccdd aswell as the T-SPARC twitter account. I have also created a JISC tab where there are links via RSS feeds to various updates from the JISC.

• WordPress Blog –
This blog has also proved invaluable.  It is a space where we can document the trials and tribulations of the project and keep people up to date with the project with more than 140 characters! 


The Accessibility Factor

accessibilityAs our project is described to be ‘Agile and Responsive’ in our title, we thought it was important that our work reflects this and that we are as inclusive as possible with our stakeholder engagement, therefore making sure that our resources are accessible to all stakeholders is imperative to the T-SPARC project.

After discovering this article on twitter ‘YouTube introduces automatic captions for deaf viewers’ it got me thinking about the baseline review video we have loaded onto T-SPARC’s YouTube Channel. I began to wonder how accessible it really was, because at that time it was the only video representation of T-SPARC on YouTube and it had had quite a few hits. I realised that without at least a transcript it meant that the deaf and hard of hearing communities as well as people for whom English is not their first language, would struggle to access this resource as well as people who did not have speakers on their computer.

I decided to do some detective work and look into captioning. You may notice that I am writing about ‘captioning’ and not ‘subtitling’. ‘Captions are usually in the same language as the audio. Subtitles are usually a translation.’ (See point 6). When researching captions and subtitles I came across ‘Caption it yourself’ which recommended I began to explore overstream and was surprised at how easy it was to caption our 3 minute video. In fact the most time consuming part of it was writing the transcripts –putting them onto overstream was a breeze, all you need is a little bit of patience…

The service was free, all T-SPARC needed was a log in.  After having a bit of a play around with Overstream I began to realise how crucial this tool could be to the accessibility of our work. Not just in the case of a deaf person trying to access it – but it could also be argued that captions can actually assist learning. (see ‘The benefits of captions’)

Our Cluster has also had some interesting discussions around accessibility issues at our most recent Cluster meeting in Cardiff  (see: “No CAMEL route is long, with good company”) in October. We were joined by Katya Hosking, the Inclusive Curriculum Officer at Cardiff University to discuss Equality & Diversity issues around curriculum design and the accessibility of programmes. It was a fantastic session which made a lot of us in the room question the way that we were doing things, hence my thoughts on captioning.

I must admit that I do have a personal interest in this as I am currently working towards my Level 2 certificate in British Sign Language so who knows – perhaps in the future you may see me signing away at the bottom of the screen!

To enable captions on this video please click ‘cc’ on the right hand side of the screen.