Make E-Learning More Accessible with Blackboard Captioning

By: Verbit Editorial

an empty classroom with blackboard in front


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According to estimates, virtual school enrollment increased to 170% of its pre-pandemic level over the course of 2020. While many schools and other learning institutions have resumed their in-person operations since then, current virtual enrollment numbers still remain higher than their pre-pandemic figures. This is likely due to the fact that many teachers, students and parents continue to appreciate the safety and convenience virtual learning initiatives have to offer.

E-learning platforms like Blackboard have played an integral role in schools’ abilities to continue to offer online courses and events – even in the absence of COVID.  While Blackboard has helped to streamline the digital learning process for many students, online courses are not always sufficiently accessible for all attendees. Captioning video content and live communications featured on the Blackboard platform can help to ensure online learning experiences remain inclusive and engaging for attendees of all backgrounds and abilities.  

What is Blackboard? 

Blackboard Inc. is an educational technology company that has been working to develop a range of e-learning systems since 1997. Blackboard’s flagship software, Blackboard Learn is a learning management system that offers course delivery, content management, data analysis and communications capabilities. This platform was not specifically designed for distance learners, but it can be used for both in-person and online course offerings.  

Blackboard Collaborate is another software offering that Blackboard Inc. developed specifically for distance learning. It features a fully interactive interface that allows for web conferencing, asynchronous voice authoring, application sharing and more. Each of these interfaces affords students and teachers a high degree of flexibility and control over their learning experiences and helps to ensure more comprehensive digital learning curricula.  

What Role Does Closed Captioning Play in Education? 

Closed captioning is one of the most valuable resources available to institutions looking to improve accessibility, particularly for those community members who are Deaf or hard of hearing. Captions serve as a visual representation of audio content that offers more equitable experiences to those who need additional support to engage meaningfully.  

Creating and implementing Blackboard captions may be beneficial for: 

  • E-learners who are Deaf or hard of hearing 
  • Attendees who are viewing course materials in public or on mobile devices 
  • Students with ADHD and other neurodiverse conditions 
  • Viewers who are consuming educational content in a non-native language  
  • Any participant who prefers or needs to engage with information in a written format 

It’s important to provide Blackboard captioning for any video or audio content shared on the platform to meet the needs of diverse learners and to support critical accessibility standards and guidelines.  

How Do You Add Captions on Blackboard? 

There are not currently any existing workflows for automatic Blackboard closed captioning within Blackboard Learn or Blackboard Collaborate. For this reason, educators will want to take advantage of other captioning options for their course content, such as instructional videos or pre-recorded webinars.  

Instructors and administrators may take advantage of other media platforms’ auto-captioning options to embed captions into videos for Blackboard. However, it’s worth noting that automatically generated captions tend to fall short of the accuracy rates required by web accessibility guidelines. For example, YouTube’s auto-captioning tool only achieves 60-70% accuracy.  

Alternatively, educators can partner with a professional closed captioning service like Verbit. Verbit’s platform uses a dual approach to captioning and transcription that can deliver final caption files with high accuracy rates. Additionally, Verbit’s software integrates seamlessly with major media-sharing platforms like YouTube and Vimeo to make quick work of captioning recorded content for educational purposes.  

How Do You Caption Live Videos? 

Captioning recorded content is a great jumping-off point when it comes to improving accessibility, but it’s equally important to offer live captioning of real-time communications. Blackboard Collaborate offers web conferencing capabilities that are well-suited for digital learning experiences, but these live communications can pose accessibility challenges.  

That’s where Verbit comes in. A member of the Verbit team can be added to your web conference to provide Blackboard Collaborate closed captioning in real-time. Once our pro has joined your session, a moderator will allow them to observe the session and input captioning in Blackboard Collaborate, which other attendees can view at their discretion.  

In addition to Blackboard Collaborate live captioning, Verbit’s platform can also generate closed captions for a Blackboard Collaborate conference session after the fact. When users upload a recorded session to Verbit’s platform, artificial intelligence software will create the first draft. After that, a professionally trained human transcriber will review and edit for accuracy. Verbit will then use this transcript to create a final caption file that includes accurate timecodes. Users can download the final captions in different file formats compatible with Blackboard’s platform and other media hosting sites.  

Fostering Inclusivity with Verbit 

The landscape of modern education is constantly changing, and it’s more important than ever for educators and administrators to focus on supporting students of all backgrounds and abilities. Assistive technologies are a great tool for leveling the playing field and making educational experiences more engaging, whether online or in person.  

Verbit offers a full suite of tailor-made technology solutions like captioning, transcription, translation and audio description for the education sector. With these solutions, institutions are capable of supporting mandatory accessibility requirements while better serving their students. Reach out today to learn more about Verbit’s efforts to foster more inclusive learning environments, or visit our blog to explore how Verbit’s platform is helping to support other industries with advanced solutions like Wistia closed captioning, Mediasite closed captioning, Zoom transcription and more.