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6 minute read
1 Nov 2022

How to Add Captions and Subtitles to Canvas Online Courses and reach more students!

Automatic subtitles
Manual subtitles

More people than ever before are taking online courses. With many companies slowly but surely recognizing online certification, we will see even more people take on these courses. 

This influx of curious people looking to improve their skills has in turn created a surge of online educators. The number of online courses is overwhelming. Therefore, simply having an online course does not mean there will be people rushing to sign up for it. You need to find a way to stand out.

In addition to having invaluable content, a good marketing team, and being on the right platform, you should consider adding one simple thing: subtitles. If used correctly, subtitles will even contribute to the qualities listed. 

Let’s discuss how all this is possible and why you should consider it. But first, we need to talk about the best environment for all this: Canvas.

What is Canvas?

Canvas is an innovative learning management system (LMS) that revolutionized online learning. The platform allows educators to create courses and post learning resources for their students. Educators can track, document and report student activities with user-friendly administrative functions.

Canvas is also convenient for students. Apart from accessing their learning classes, they can access all of their:

  • Assignments
  • Course calendars
  • Peer review assignments 
  • Analytics
  • Custom learning paths

These courses do not have to be exclusively online; they can even be hybrid online-physical classes. That is one of Canvas greatest strengths. By assigning more of the traditional classroom activities to online platforms, educators free up classroom time for collaborative activities and practically engage with taught concepts. This is known as the ‘flipped classroom’ and has better outcomes for students.

However, not everyone can attend classes nor wants to attend physical classes due to time constraints, among other things. So educators who are limited to online videos on Canvas need to add something extra so that their courses can have the same effect. They also need to find a way to appeal to even more students to compensate. One solution is subtitling.

What are Subtitles?

If you have ever watched a foreign language film, you have seen subtitles.

Subtitles are the lines of text at the bottom (and sometimes top) of the screen that show the audience what is being said. However, there is usually confusion over how they are related to, or differ from captions.

In the case of captions, you have probably seen them in films, but not necessarily foreign language ones. This is because captions are for people who may understand the language being spoken, but for one reason or the other, cannot hear the audio.

Another thing you will notice with captions is that they will include background sounds, tone and even speaker changes. They are intended to help people experience the video, without hearing what is going on.

Of course, you can watch subtitles in your native language. In this case, they will primarily help in concentration, or even in cases where you can’t quite decipher a certain speaker’s words.

two women sitting on table watching a projector play a video with subtitles

Benefits of Adding Subtitles to Online Courses on Canvas

Can subtitles and captions create the kind of impact online educators need to keep their courses relevant? Adding subtitles to your online course videos has several benefits. All of these positives combined create a powerful effect that sets your content apart from the rest:

Increase Students’ Focus and Retention

Listening is not always simple. It requires a lot of concentration and processing. Now imagine a situation where a student is processing information, but they mishear a word. They then start trying to figure out what the word means in the context of the video. They finally realize what it is, but then the video has already moved on. 

Another scenario is where the student is watching the video, and then notices something distracting. They could either be distracted by something on the video, or something in their environment. The cycle then repeats itself throughout the video.

Adding subtitles or captions will solve this issue. The student will be using two powerful senses to perceive what is happening in the video: hearing and sight. This multi-sensory approach is highly engaging and has the added effect of helping learners avoid distractions. 

Inclusivity for Learners with Hearing Disabilities

Everyone should have access to resources, and this is why captions are often a compulsory requirement on several platforms. Many students with hearing difficulties often struggle to find resources they can use.

If you have never considered it due to the platform you are on, then it’s never too late to start. Providing access to deaf and hard of hearing learners does not only allow you to be inclusive but also expands your market. Therefore, there will be a higher ROI on your course content.

Access an International Audience

There are several languages spoken in the world, but knowledge remains the same in each of them. All that needs to be done is to overcome the knowledge barrier. Subtitles allow us to do this.

Few people often consider the idea of going global. There are several reasons for this but the most prominent is the fear of cultural differences. With subtitles, you do not have to worry about being understood; you only need to make the information you’re passing across is true. Expanding to a global audience will increase your revenue and relevance in your respective field.

Compensation for Poor Audio Quality

If we are going to discuss international audiences, we need to take into account different internet speeds. Transmission can be unreliable even in the same time zone, so it’s not far-fetched to make accommodations for any issues.

Subtitles and captions also help when the speaker’s voice is too low or has an accent too heavy for them to easily decipher. They, therefore, act as backups for poor audio.

Transform your audio and
video to text and subtitles

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How to Get Subtitles with Amberscript

All this sounds great, but how exactly do you get subtitles and captions?

Thankfully, you do not have to manually add and sync them! Well, at least not always. You can use Amberscript to automatically create subtitles for you, or use our services to make the process easier. Here is what to do:

1. Record Your Course

Record your course content as you normally would. Making sure the audio quality is impeccable, to begin with, goes a long way. Speak as clearly as you can.

It also helps to use professional-grade equipment. These will allow you to get the best result.

2. Upload to Amberscript

Upload your video or videos to Amberscript. The speech recognition engine will generate the first draft for subtitles of your video. You will then be allowed to edit these according to your preference.

3. Select Manual or Automatic Subtitles

In the next step, you can choose to either add the subtitles manually or automatically.

You may want to add subtitles manually to your video to have a greater sense of control over the outcome and even add a personalized touch to it. On Amberscript, there are features top help with syncing the subtitles or captions with sound so you do not have to struggle with that. Regardless of what option you choose, Amberscript will make it a pleasant experience.

Or Select Translated Subtitles

If you want to have translated subtitles, you will need to indicate the language of the source file and then the required language of subtitle. The subtitles will be automatically generated, and then perfected by human subtitlers. A quality checker will also review the translation and subtitles for the best result.

4. Receive Your File

You will then receive your file with subtitles or the subtitles separately in an SRT, VTT or EBU-STL format. These can easily be added to the video at the learners’ discretion.

5. Upload to Canvas

Finally, upload the video, or video and subtitles to Canvas. Your students will thank you for it!

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