6 ways to make the most of closed captions in Google Slides

Ed Tech

Ed Tech | Wednesday, January 16, 2019

6 ways to make the most of closed captions in Google Slides

Google Slides has a new closed captions feature and it is pretty amazing. Simply presenting your slides with closed captions is just one way to use them in the classroom. Here are 6 ways to make the most of this new accessibility feature.

Google Slides is a unique creature in the G Suite set of tools. It’s way more than an oral presentation program. Educators and students with open minds can use it for stop-motion animation, as a brainstorming template, to recreate the social media experience, and more.

Google has added a feature to make it even more powerful — and to make learning more accessible.

That feature is live closed captions. Google Slides will listen to you speak through your device’s embedded microphone and transcribe your words in real time to display on the screen. It was a passion project for two Googlers — one with hearing loss and another with an interest in accessibility.

Check out this video that shows how live closed captions work:

Important points to note (as of publication of this post):

  • Slides (and Google) does not save the text from your presentation anywhere. It’s displayed locally on your computer.
  • It currently does not translate to other languages.
  • The transcript isn’t saved through Slides.
  • The transcriptions aren’t perfect. If you can be close to your microphone and speak clearly, you’ll get more accurate captions.
  • Some people may find the captions to be distracting more than helpful. It’s not a bad idea to ask your students / audience if they’d like them.

Having live closed captions in Slides can help you and your students in lots of ways! Here are 6 ways to use it:

1. Give support to students with special needs.

This may sound like an obvious one, but maybe it’s not. You’ll certainly know if you have students identified with hearing difficulties or students learning English as a new language. However, some students might not be identified and could use the additional support. Plus, some students without any identified special needs might find it easier to process what you say if it’s on the screen.

2. Use it for captions but not for slides.

You don’t have to teach with multiple slides to get use out of live closed captions. If you want to use them to support the learners mentioned above, just make one slide. It could be an image, a graphic or a chart you’ll refer to during class. It could simply be a title for what you’re doing in class that day. What’s on the slide doesn’t matter. What DOES matter is that having Slides running lets you use the live closed captions. Use it for the captions, not for the slides. (Idea by Joe Marquez (@JoeMarquez70) during a #DitchBook Twitter chat)

3. Record screencast videos of slides with captions.

Your live closed captions can’t be accessed by people in other locations through Google Slides. However, you CAN make a video recording with a screencasting tool like Screencastify (screencastify.com). Record what you have to say while sharing the screen with your slides and captions. That will preserve them for later. Students can create video presentations this way.

4. Provide captions for live video calls.

If you plan to share a screen with slides during a live video call (Skype, Google Hangouts, Zoom, etc.), you can easily add live closed captions with Google Slides.

5. Help students improve their pronunciation and speech.

Have students run live closed captions (whether they’re using slides or not … see No. 2 above) while they practice speaking. They could practice pronouncing new vocabulary words to see if Slides closed captions can determine what they’re saying. They could practice an oral presentation and see how well they’re pronouncing words for audience understanding.

6. Create videos for distance learning, e-learning snow days and more.

Here in Indiana, when school is canceled due to snow, some schools don’t have to make those days up if they can provide instruction and learning digitally that day. They’re called “e-learning days”. Teachers could provide live instruction via video call (see No. 4) or recorded instruction (see No. 3) with easy Google Slides closed captions.

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  • Susan Nichols says:

    Hi Matt, thank you for this great video on using closed captions in Google slides. In your demo, the line length of the captions is short and you get two lines. On mine, it is all one long line that goes across the entire screen, making it hard to follow. Also, do you know if there is a way to get the captions to start fresh when you advance to the next slide? Otherwise, the words from the previous slide are still there and blend into the new information.

  • Charles says:

    Google doesn’t allow you to download the captions from a Google Meet meeting.

    As another answer mentioned, they do allow you to record the meeting. This could pair nicely with a transcription service.

    In that case, you can use a 3rd party service like Tactiq to join your meeting and record / transcribe it for you.

    Some people don’t have the option to record their meetings because the setting is turned off in the g-suite admin.

    It also allows you to highlight the transcript and get a summary in google docs.

    It’s super handy https://tactiq.io/

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