I’m uncomfortable around teachers who use the phrase “I’m not a computer/tech person”. Always have been, and there are lots of reasons why. For a long time I’ve considered the issue at the heart of it being one based on a certain sense of hypocrisy with teachers pushing for students to be lifelong learners, yet they have this massive area where they not only refuse to grow. But that’s not it, I have no problem with hypocrisy in the classroom. “No you’re not allowed to drink in the lab.” “What about your coffee?” “What about you mind your own business. I’m an adult, I’m ok with the consequences.” No, it’s the hypocrisy around trying to develop a growth mindset in our students.

Teachers have no right saying that they’re not tech people because that attitude punishes the people who need their support the most. I’m a huge believer and proponent of UDL in our classrooms and it is the underpinning framework that I build upon when designing learning activities/scenarios.

I really got into thinking about this when I started making the two videos below. I had a deaf Mum (that’s the preferred descriptor) and like many non-teaching aspects of our lives, it impacts how we look at the classroom. Mum had a cochlear implant and always had the subtitles/closed captions on. I hadn’t even considered this until I realised (helped along in that realisation by the excellent Jo as always) that not only did it make the TV more accessible for her, it made it easier for me to follow along. This is exactly the framework of UDL that I’m always banging on about. Consequently, this is now something that I always have on in the classroom.

Mum, always making the world a better place for those who need it, even when she didn’t know it.

I found an almost instant improvement in engagement. In fact, I did a little reflective study on it when I thought it might be too good to be true over three weeks where I showed videos in class and counted the number of times per 10(ish) minutes of video. Look it’s not passing any peer review but it’s a start. Videos in class without captions was standard practice and this was checking to see if an alternative method was worth the initial complaining about the subtitles.

So I was blown away when I realised that PowerPoint and Google Slides had a similar function. Below the two videos show how to use this function – it’s unbelievably simple. It’s not perfect but it’s better than the alternative.

I know many teachers who rely on Slides/PowerPoint. I wouldn’t say that if you’ve not been using this feature or something similar you were negligent. But I might say that going forward. Our job is to lift all students – no one argues that. It’s about accessibility. You don’t have a choice anymore to be a tech person. Not because it is hypocritical to expect our students to be lifelong learners while we put our feet up, but because it disadvantages our students who need your support the most.

Pete Whiting


Closed Captions and Google Slides

Closed Captions and PowerPoint