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How Students Benefit From Access to an Interactive Smart Player

By: Sarah Doar

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Students’ abilities to study, engage and retain information is significantly impacted by each students’ individual learning needs. More university leaders and instructors are grasping this reality that students learn in different ways. Many are now questioning prior traditional teaching methods and adapting lectures, testing and opportunities for peer interactions with this notion in mind, providing multiple modalities to access and learn content for academic purposes.

Today’s students prefer multimodal learning. Multimodal learning suggests that when a number of our senses – visual, auditory, kinaesthetic – are engaged we understand and remember more. In fact, a Harvard study found that most students do best when they learn with active learning strategies, that is, by employing a combination of visual, auditory or kinesthetic learning styles.

New technologies are therefore being released to support multimodality learning. One of these solutions, Automatic Sync Technology (AST)’s Smart Player, is enhancing students’ ability to engage in lectures and interact more with their learning materials. Here is some information to consider as you look to identify technologies that can help you deliver education that supports today’s students with varying needs and learning preferences.

A brief exploration of multimodal learning

Research recently has found that learners with ADHD or processing-related disabilities such as auditory processing disorder, are among those who can benefit greatly from a multimodal learning approach according to a growing body of research in the educational psychology sector.

The idea behind multimodal learning is focused simply on enhancing our likelihood of recalling information by experiencing it through multiple mediums – a fact that positively impacts learners of all ages and learning needs, outside of any diagnosis. Rather, the multimodal approach strengthens content recognition and recall across the board for all learners. 

Research dating back more than 20 years, as well as studies more recently published specific to today’s technologies, support this finding that multiple modalities help us to learn better,” said Sherri Restauri, Senior Customer Success Manager at AST, who has over 20 years of experience as a university educator in the field of educational psychology and instructional technologies, including digital accessibility. “The idea behind multimodal learning is that it enhances our likelihood of recalling information by experiencing it through multiple mediums.”

Setting students up with multimodal learning options enables them to get creative and encourages them to use different parts of their brain. Cognitive Learning Theory suggests that when learners are actively involved in their own learning, they retain more information. Offering them courses, materials and assignments which are designed with multimodal in mind are likely to help more students succeed.

How a ‘Smart Player’ can assist

More institutions are turning to video to engage learners, to host classes virtually, and to infuse experiences with more multimodal approaches. With the dramatic growth in the incorporation of video to in-person and online learning, considering how video is being delivered to students is a key variable in improving upon students’ learning outcomes, including content retention and academic achievement.

A ‘Smart Player’, like AST’s, is a tool that allows instructors and others at universities to host content outside of any native platform while supporting accessibility features, making it easy for students to utilize content from YouTube or Vimeo while still enjoying the support and convenience of the Smart Player, as well as it’s special multimodal features, described below.

AST’s Smart Player includes a range of powerful features that set it apart from regular video players. These features can help to support learning for all students, as well as assist instructors in making video accessible to students with disabilities, such as those who are Deaf or hard of hearing.

CaptionSync-Smart-Player-example-pic-w-AD-768x386 (1)

What instructors are finding is that many of the solutions and features designed initially to assist learners with reported disabilities or accommodations, can fuel greater learning for all students.

How the Smart Player offers features all students can enjoy
To reach larger groups of students and offer exciting functionality such as video searchability, universities are turning to easy, fully accessible tools like AST’s Smart Player to host their videos. Here are some of the great advantages that AST’s Smart Player can provide learners today, focused on improving their study habits, multimodal learning needs, and accommodating learners across the board with various learning supports:

  • Interactive transcripts: AST’s Smart Player provides a searchable transcript of each video it’s used for. Students can rely on these transcripts for notes and use them to follow along with videos more effectively. The transcripts AST provides are interactive, meaning there are a number of features built into the transcript itself. Students can follow along with videos they’re consuming more seamlessly as a result without having to be distracted by note taking. The player synchronizes the audio track with the transcript so each sentence or phrase is highlighted as it is being played. Learners have the ability to click on individual words in the transcript to jump to the specific point in the video.
  • Dictionary and Wikipedia: Both a dictionary and Wikipedia search option are built into the player for easy access. For learners who want to double check a fact or a definition, there is no need to go to an external website. 
  • Keyword search: One of the best benefits of the Smart Player is the deep search functionality. To use this, users simply type a word into the search. This could be a subject they wish to review in a lecture, the name of a place or a person, etc. The search functionality allows learners  to easily navigate to that precise spot in the video. This searchability is a gamechanger for students,  saving them time and enhancing studying and review when they’re able to quickly locate the exact part of the video they want simply by typing in a search term.
  • SEO: An additional perk for institutions using the Smart Player is the ability to leverage the transcripts AST generates for search engine optimization. Videos without transcripts cannot be picked up by Google and other search engines. Therefore, for universities looking to make their videos or event recordings accessible and discoverable on the internet, transcripts serve as a useful tool to boost views. 

Deep diving into ‘deep search functionality’

Since the deep search function of the Smart Player is  such a helpful and time-saving feature, it’s worth highlighting a few additional great details a bit further:

“Outside of multiple modes of experiencing content, all users benefit from these amazing tools like deep search,” says Sherri Restauri. “Deep search allows us access to needed content just in the time that we need it, at our fingertips, for quick reference. It’s a tool for all users, with multiple benefits.”

Unlike handwritten notes or simple transcripts that are not time-synched to the videos or audio they’re created from, deep search functionality takes the spoken word, runs it through AST’s platform and then offers both video captions and a searchable transcript to users. This functionality allows learners and video viewers to search for specific items within the videos quickly.

Once they search for the word or phrase they want to find or rewatch within the Smart Player, it takes them immediately to that moment in the multimedia file. They can then replay, listen and read the content they want to reference.

Implementing multimodal learning with AST’s Smart Player

To start using multimodal learning techniques, institutions can start by distributing materials in different formats, such as video, text, and audio. The Smart Player can come in to assist, offering an excellent interactive tool to accommodate different modalities. The Smart Player enables students to watch video, read captions and search transcripts for the information they need all in one place.

AST’s Smart Player search feature is designed to help all learners target the information they need, while offering universities the options to engage students and deliver accessible video more effectively.

Embracing learning tools as a valuable solution

The AST Smart Player is an invaluable tool that provides learning solutions for a variety of learning modalities. The player itself includes WCAG 2 Level AA compliant and has a high contrast layout, keyboard controls and even audio description features to make it accessible and easy to use for students, including those with disabilities.

Instructors can greatly benefit from the ease of use of technologies like a Smart Player. When players are embedded into a university’s site,  it can greatly simplify the distribution for all types of content. Contact us to learn more about AST’s Smart Player and how it can serve as an added learning tool for your institution. We’re also happy to discuss how our video closed captioning and voice transcription can serve your students as well.