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Collection: Video and Captioning

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REFERENCES: Harkins, J.E., Korres, E., Lee, Y.L., Virvan, B.M.& Singer, B.R. (1993). Captioned video as teacher-made materials for vocabulary development in young deaf children. Final report. Washington, D.C.: Gallaudet University,

CONTEXT: As videocassette recorders and video cameras have dropped in price and become everyday items in many American households, the potential for their use by teachers has greatly increased. Equally important is the availability of new captioning software that is easy for teachers to use. As teachers of the deaf continue to seek ways of making their instruction as visual as possible, captioned video has great potential.

Traditional ways of captioning are very labor-intensive; in addition, teachers often point out that the English in commercially produced captions is often too advanced for their students. The authors point out that teachers are not restricted to captioning in traditional ways and can tailor the captions to their own students' needs. For example, captions can be used for short segments, for introducing single words or idioms and for asking questions, as when asking students to predict or find something in the video.

This cooperative project of Gallaudet University and the Marie Katzenbach School for the Deaf (MKSD), conducted from January 1992 to June 1993, examined the potential for teacher-made captioned materials in vocabulary development among deaf children of early-elementary school age. The project's primary objectives were: (1) to identify appropriate equipment for teachers, (2) to teach teachers how to create videos and caption them, (3) to document the process of teachers' using the equipment, creating videos and using those videos in the classroom, and (4) to measure the progress of children on vocabulary lessons presented with and without teacher-made captioned videos.

DESCRIPTION: Vocabulary acquisition was the target of the study. After participating in several workshops on planning and shooting video and on the mechanics of captioning, the teachers selected eight target vocabulary words from a list provided by the Gallaudet staff. Each of 11 teachers then planned, produced and edited a video. The teachers received weekly support from Gallaudet staff throughout this process. The teachers then captioned their videos. Since the videos were signed and had no soundtrack, the teachers were encouraged to think of caption text as instructional support to the video. Finally, a study was conducted in which eight of the videos were used in classroom instruction over an eight-week period. Nineteen students served as their own controls; students in four different classrooms were instructed in vocabulary alternately with and without a captioned videotape. The students were tested before the experiment began, after the fourth week and at the end of the study. In addition to quantitative data collected for the vocabulary study, Gallaudet staff collected feedback from the teachers regarding their progress and experiences through log forms, interviews and questionnaires.

Gallaudet staff researched and tested captioning software options before deciding on Caption Maker CPC-500 software from the Computer Prompting and Captioning Co. and later on QuickCaption School from the WGBH Educational Foundation, both for PC-compatible computers. These decisions were based on available features and ease of use. The CPC-500 (which has been replaced by the CPC-600) had more available features (such as screen placement options), however, teachers found QuickCaption School easier to use. Ideally, the authors point out, software should be easy to use but also allow teachers to exploit the medium as they become more experienced and confident.

Some project results are summarized:

  1. Teachers showed creativity in their approaches to the video productions. They experimented with American Sign Language (in a department that is almost exclusively geared toward signed English) and experimented with captioning in non-traditional ways.

  2. The process of creating a short captioned video brought out many instructional and language issues that contributed to discussion within the school.

  3. In selecting systems for use in video production and captioning at the elementary-school level, the importance of simplicity and ease of use cannot be overstated.

  4. Teachers and research staff recommend keeping the videos short and simple. The brevity allows for repetition that the children seemed to enjoy and prevents the project from becoming overwhelming in terms of time commitment.

  5. While teachers were initially enthusiastic about the potential of video production and gave the training sessions high marks, they were not prepared for the time commitment needed to produce the videos, an average of 9.5 hours per tape. Teachers preferred to seek help from other teachers and to work in pairs. Only two of eleven teachers chose to make a second videotape.

  6. Teachers who used the videos in instruction reported that the students were attentive and liked the videotapes. They reported that the students understood the tapes, copied the signing of the signer and wanted to see the tapes repeatedly.

  7. One intent of the project was to create a library of teacher-made captioned videos. However, on the whole, teachers did not use videos produced by other teachers. (This may be partly attributable to the restrictions placed on the vocabulary lists and thus on the content of the videos.)

  8. The vocabulary lessons taught with support of videotape did not result in greater growth in vocabulary than those taught without videotape support. Thus the project could not show the benefits to literacy within a period of eight weeks. However, the fact that children watched the tapes repeatedly and understood them must be construed as a positive benefit of the project and one that could contribute to literacy and knowledge over the long term.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Judith E. Harkins, Ph.D., Director, Technology Assessment Program, Hall Memorial Building, Room S437, Gallaudet University, 800 Florida Ave., NE, Washington, D.C. 20002

A 16-minute video about the project is available.

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This material was developed by the National Center to Improve Practice (NCIP), located at Education Development Center, Inc. in Newton, Massachusetts.  NCIP was funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs from October 1, 1992 - September 30, 1998, Grant #H180N20013.  Permission is granted to copy and disseminate this information.  If you do so, please cite NCIP.   Contents do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of Education, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by NCIP, EDC, or the U.S. Government.  This site was last updated in September 1998. 

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