Why Captions Improve Online Course Completion Rates and Student Engagement

By: Danielle Chazen



Popular posts

Instagram logo
Adding Captions To Instagram Reels & Videos Adding Captions To Instagram Reels & Videos
a computer setup in a dark room
Adding Subtitles in DaVinci Resolve Adding Subtitles in DaVinci Resolve

Related posts

Overhead view of students at a desk receiving online instruction from a teacher.
Best practices for creating accessible video from a Canvas Studio expert  Best practices for creating accessible video from a Canvas Studio expert 
Close up of a student's hands as she takes notes in a classroom.
Video: How VHEAP is shaping the future of higher education accessibility Video: How VHEAP is shaping the future of higher education accessibility

In the ’70s, ABC introduced the concept of adding words to television programs. It was a major innovation that required sophisticated technology and specialized equipment, meaning not all TV sets could support it. But, it marked the dawn of a new era and represented a major milestone for the hearing-impaired community. As the decades progressed, we’ve reached the point where most people can hardly remember a time before captioned TV. This is certainly not by accident, as it is actually required by law to include captions for any video content that is aired on American television.

Accessibility for Everyone

As public awareness of disability spreads, the need for accessibility increases as well. Beyond entertainment and media outlets, this is also apparent in schools that invest significant effort in making their materials accessible to everyone, as well as in businesses and in the online environment that is quickly adopting the idea of being accessible for all. With these trends continuing and showing no signs of slowing down, it is not unfeasible to predict that captioning every video, educational or not, will become the default. As this quickly becomes the norm, an organization would not want to have an inaccessible online presence. 

The Rise of the E-learning Industry:

In 2015, the E-learning industry reached $107 billion in revenue, and experts predict that by the end of 2025 that figure will triple. The massive growth in the last few years is not only coming from niche online courses, as it began, but with the rise of distance learning. Higher education organizations have increasingly adopted online environments to offer more flexible learning options and many businesses have opted for online employee training techniques. As a result, E-learning has become the fastest growing sector in the world of education. 

How Captioning Enhances Learning Techniques 

One of the many challenges that students face is to stay on-task when studying. There is no shortage of distractions that prevent a student from paying close attention to the material they are learning. Being exposed to a variety of stimuli means it is only natural that a student will need an extra element to keep them focused on the content. One of the solutions to this issue is adding another layer to focus the mind. For example, adding subtitles to video content enhances the material as the student is engaged by watching, listening and reading, which reinforces comprehension. Evidence is now available to support the idea that the cognitive systems dealing with auditory and visual word recognition are highly interactive and fully interconnected (Masson, 1995, Van Orden, Pennington, & Stone, 1990)

Use Captions For a Better Course Completion Rate 

Adding captions to educational content is certainly not a new innovation. Since the late ’80s, researchers around the world have been exploring different learning skills and techniques, one of them being the effect of video captions. Measuring the rate of student success with and without captions is simple. It requires creating a test group of students that use captioned videos and comparing their results to students in the same course who are not provided with captioned content. Web and university archives are abundant with hundreds of studies that have been conducted on the topic. Beyond results indicating better academic results for students who used captioned video, many students have reported that they actually rely on the text more than the audio. In addition, students that are exposed to a combination of audio and text accompaniment are better able to recall material on later assessments (Bird, S.A., & Williams, J.N., 2002).

Using a combination of audio and text helps create a stronger learning impact. Adding another layer to the learning process enables better student engagement and more approachable and memorable content. The results of various studies point to the same conclusion: adding subtitles to an online course or class will significantly improve the completion rate.

The dominance of online learning methods has made it possible for almost anyone to gain access to information and learn about almost any topic. This means that people now have more options than ever to develop themselves in any direction they wish. The E-learning industry plays a major role in the technology revolution and, as a result, it is making waves in higher education, employee training and in personal growth and development by leveling the playing fields and making learning without limits a reality.

The importance of providing captioned video is undeniable. It has become more essential than ever to add a text-based layer to academic content in order to provide all learners with the best chance to truly understand and absorb the information you want to convey.

About Verbit

Verbit is an innovation-driven company on a mission to make captioned video the standard on all learning platforms. We are the leading transcription and captioning technology company in the E-learning space, and our number one goal is to contribute to the effort of creating an accessible and innovative learning environment. In this way, we support e-learning companies by helping their students succeed and by improving online course completion rates and overall satisfaction. 

About the Author

Maya Piper is a Customer Success Manager at Verbit. She has extensive experience in a variety of industries working on both the customer and product sides. Maya is passionate about helping customers build unique business strategies and tailoring creative solutions.