Author:  Kevan Williams, TELT

Technology continues to develop at a rapid pace, offering students new opportunities and methods to engage with their learning opportunities. As learning technologists, we are committed to the effective investigation and evaluation of new and emerging tools and solutions, to proactively enable interesting and diverse academic approaches and practices. The recent Future Decoded event hosted by Microsoft offered a variety of keynote presentations featuring developments in artificial intelligence capabilities and suggesting that ‘now is the time’ to consider ‘AI’ in our technologies mix. At first glance, the scope for potential application appears almost limitless, so where do we start?  

Supporting, promoting and enhancing inclusive approaches to learning, teaching and assessment are significantly important to our diverse student community. Implementing technology to effectively enhance learning and ensure that everyone feels included and able to benefit from the experience is fundamental to our core strategic aims. Traditional lectures offer several challenges for Deaf and hearing-impaired students alongside those for whom English is not their first language. A recent investment in infra-red hearing loops across our main lecture theatres has significantly improved the experience for the Deaf community, but we also believe AI presents us with an exciting opportunity to do so much more. 

Real-time translation of spoken content into screen-based text captions that can be instantly translated into any number of languages, offers a new level of access and engagement with the lecture theatre experience. A fully encompassing transcription solution must offer visibility on the projected screen within the lecture theatre as well as onto a student’s own personal device, along with the ability to save the transcriptions for revision and review after the event. 

After dipping our technology toes in the AI transcription pool, we’re already seeing some early outcomes which look particularly positive with significant potential impact on the learner experience. The fourth industrial revolution is here, and we are proud to be early adopters of one element of what this may fundamentally enable. A UCLan pilot programme to implement and evaluate the effectiveness of AI transcription in lectures is about to begin and the TELT team are looking for internal and external partners who may be interested in collaborating with us – why not join us on this exciting and worthwhile journey? 


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