Category Archives: Plans

Agenda 7th ALUIAR meeting – 16th December 2-3pm Access Grid Room, Building 32, level 3

synote logosHere comes the last of our meetings for the project before we need to finalise the evaluation interviews and set up all the transcripts on our newly named version of Synote for use by researchers!

We still need more votes for the name – Please use the iSurvey site for this purpose



  1. Apologies already received from Lisa Harris, Lisa Roberts, Mary Gobbi and Lester Gilbert.
  2. Results of the naming exercise for the ALUIAR version of Synote
  3. Results from the SUS evaluation on iSurvey as a result of viewing the new interface design for learnability and usability.
  4. Overview and discussion about the initial comments from interviews undertaken with the team and external evaluators.
  5. Changes to be made to the final iteration
  6. Legal aspects, data protection and downloads.
  7. Final Report Blog and JISC meeting
  8. AOB


Terms and Conditions, Ethics, Data Protection, Licensing, IP – Legal issues

Help - advice neededAt previous meetings we have rather skirted around all the legal issues but having looked at the  JISC Legal website and chatting with Lisa and Mary it was time to ask for help that might address the issues specifically arising at the University of Southampton  … Diana Galpin very kindly came to our rescue.

The original version of Synote has some Terms and Conditions that were designed to cover all eventualities related to the use of the service as a way of listening to lectures or replaying videos and audio discussions.  The audio and video files were held on other people’s servers and Synote just linked to the output.  The ALUIAR version of Synote rather changes the scene, although perhaps not altogether.

Scenario One

Imagine, as is the case with some members of the team, that a researcher in the Health Professions and Rehabilitation Sciences Faculty at University of Southampton is interviewing patients and wishes to record the interview. The video has to be saved in a secure space but the annotations and transcription of that video can be viewed publicly or just shared with the team or kept completely private.  upload page

The settings in both the original and new version of Synote allow for this to occur and with the new upload system in ALUIAR the video can be hosted on a Southampton server that is within the faculty’s control.  All the legal aspects that surround the video need to be dealt with by the University and the ethics dealt with by the faculty involved.

The ALUIAR team need to ensure that there is a way of allowing those who download the code to be able to make changes to contact names and to ensure alterations can be made to the Terms and Conditions to suit individual faculty needs.

Scenario Two

A researcher in another institution wishes to use the ALUIAR version of Synote – they can download the code from Source Forge but the team need to add a caveat to the repository pointing out in a sentence similar to this one … “this version of Synote is not controlled or hosted by the University Southampton, who accepts no liability for the content and materials held herein.”

In the discussions with Diana Galpin it was felt that it would be helpful to have two downloads available, one for those based in the University of Southampton and one for other institutions.   It was also felt that it would be useful to make a guide regarding what can be uploaded, including limitations as well as a usage reminder – “you are using your own recordings” etc…

source forge screen grabFinally, IP management and source code tracking was discussed with the importance of acknowledging others’ code as part of the tracking process available in the open source repository.

We owe many thanks to Diana, as she has also offered to guide us as to the suitable wording that goes onto the Synote web pages and well as in Source Forge.

Suggested Solutions to Synote ALUIAR Issues – 4th Meeting

The 4th meeting of the ALUIAR team was set up to finalise the storyboarding of the ideas suggested in previous meetings and to present the outcomes from the data gathering plus options for some functional solutions.

Those attending were Mike Wald(MW), Garry Wills (GW), Seb Skuse (SS), Yunjia Li (YL), Mary Gobbi (MG), Lisa Roberts (LR),  and E.A. Draffan (EA)


Apologies were received from Lester Gilbert,  Lisa Harris and Debbie Thackray.

Mike opened the meeting with a discussion document related to the functionality issues discussed at the outset of the project and comments collected from initial interviews.   Accepted ideas are in red. 

  1. Greater flexibility of movement backwards or forwards through a recording (e.g. by typing in new time) as at present can only move in 5 second  ‘nudges’ or move time slider or change speed if recording format and player allow.

Possible Solution(s)

a) Enter time into time entry box and player will move to that time

b) Change ‘nudge’ time from 5 seconds to 1 second

c) Add additional ‘nudge’ time of 1 second as well as existing 5 seconds

d) If in editor and transcript text is selected for the editor text box then move player time automatically to the start Synpoint time

  1. A drop-down box listing frequently used tags (e.g. for coding name of speaker and category code)

Possible Solution:

Implement drop-down box listing frequently used tags. E.g.

a)    tags they have used on this recording

b)    tags anyone has used on  this recording

c)    in alphabetic order

  1. foot pedal control of player

Possible Solution:

Find available foot pedal that works or allows pedals to be assigned to keyboard shortcuts – Research the issues – EA to contact Hagger about suitable foot pedals

  1. When manually transcribing a recording it is possible to also annotate this with the start time of the clip entered automatically but the end time needs to be manually entered. Synote allows a section of a created transcript to be selected and the annotation to be linked to that section with the start and end times of those sections to be automatically entered. It would make the system easier to use if it was possible to also do this without having first to save the transcript.

Possible Solution:

If there is text in the editor text box then when selecting create, automatically enter both the start and end Synpoint times into the Synmark start and end times

  1. Facility to download the annotation data (e.g. to Microsoft Excel for statistical analysis and charts and graphs or for a report or into other annotation tools). At the moment the information requires copying and pasting

Possible Solution:

Add csv export for Synmarks and Transcript to print preview

  1. Making it harder to exit without saving and so losing changes made.

 Solution: Already done this in the current version

  1. Allowing the user to control the recording playback when annotating by providing media player controls in the annotation window. (at present a user can annotate a recording and the annotation can automatically read the time of the recording but the user cannot easily replay a section of the recording while writing the annotation)

Possible Solution:

Add the javascript player controls to the Synmark panel

  1. Redesign of interface to improve learnability

Possible Solution:

This is related to the current interface work and can be seen in the PowerPoint slide show below. 

  1. Organise recordings into groups and categories to make them easier to find and manage

Possible Solution:

Add tags to the title field

If categories were to be used they would have to be hard coded and not all the categories would be suitable.

  1. Ability to replay just the video clip from a search (at present plays from the start time and manually have to pause at the end time of the clip)

Possible Solution:

Using linked multimedia fragments – not feasible in the time scale

Additional Issues NOT in original Proposal

xiii Users find it difficult to understand how to store and link to their recordings in their own web space

Possible Solution: (Yunjia is currently investigating this) 

Allowing recordings to be uploaded into database rather than only being linked to in user’s own web based storage area

There then followed a presentation by Yunjia to show the work already carried out on the uploading of videos and audio recordings as well as changes that are happening to the interface. A discussion followed and the ideas were accepted.  The website is not public at present but below are a series of slides to show how the system is changing.

There was no other business and possible dates for the next meeting have been added to the Doodle Calendar for October.


ALUIAR Story Board

A quick story board has been designed to demonstrate the basic functions for a typical student/user. The slides illustrate views from the current Synote website with the first of the improvements requested in previous blogs. .

Scenario 1

A researcher wants to go to a group that has been set up by their research group and view/listen to another researchers recordings. The researcher has already registered as their university login grants them access to Synote.

Slide 1:

This is only slightly changed from the original. The interface has been complemented on its lack of clutter and easy to use at this stage. But as mentioned by evaluators, written instruction is now given to show users what exactly it is they are searching for in the ‘Google style’ search function. It was also decided that there should be an FAQ.  For the ‘look and feel’ the heading is being designed to be consistent across all pages of the Synote website.

Slide 2:

The login page is also largely unchanged. There is now help for choice that need to be made about the username and password, which was requested in the co-design sessions. There will also be a “have you forgotten your password?” link, so that users who forget their password can have it reset.

Slide 3:

This slide shows the look of the homepage once the user has logged in. Also it is noted that sometimes users have gone to ‘watch/listen’ to a recording before logging in and have been redirected to the login page, after which they always returned to the homepage. Should the login be successful, the login should redirect you to the last page visited.

Slide 4:

This page shows the list of groups that have been created in Synote. This design is what the “Users” list will look like (without the “shared” column). It was also discovered that the search at the top was not specific to the users/groups in the list shown, but it was a keyword search for the entire site. This should be changed so that users may use it to search content that is specific to the list they are viewing.

Slide 5:

This page shows a specific group’s page along with all of the recordings that have been shared within this group. In the current version, if you select the title of the recording it took you to a page that showed more information about it. This has been changed to a “More info” link. “Replay” has also been changed to “Play” to make it slightly clearer to users.

Slide 6:

This is the “More Info” page for a specific recording. This demonstrates a view that the creator would have of this page along with what they can do to this recording. This has been shown to illustrate that the page has its uses, but the navigation has been modified so that users who do not need to visit this page, do not do it unintentionally.

Slide 7:

This is the recording player page. This demonstrates a typical layout and highlights where all the control will now be on the page. It is hoped that by grouping the functionality on a small banner at the top, it will help make the advanced functionality easier to find and use. This is chosen over having functions surrounding each of the 4 sections of the page. The bar and the search box can also be minimised up to the top of the page so that more room can be generated on the screen if required.


Scenario 2

An individual wants to go to one of the research recordings they have published so that they can make some comments (i.e. synmarks) to it. He/ She will need to access them via their own profile.

Slide 1:

This is only slightly changed from the original. Written instruction is given to show users what exactly it is they are searching for in the ‘Google style’ search function. Once again there is the FAQ (as above) and the heading is consistent across all pages of the Synote website.

Slide 2:

The login page is also unchanged for the most part (as above). There is help for the username and password and the “have you forgotten you password?” link so that users who forget their password can have it reset.

Slide 3:

This slide shows the look of the homepage once the user has logged in. Also it is noted that sometimes users have gone to ‘watch/listen’ to a recording before logging in and have been redirected to the login page, after which they always returned to the homepage. Should the login be successful, the login should redirect you to the last page visited.

Slide 4:

This shows a view of a user’s profile, including their details, functions they can carry out on their profile and a list of all the recordings they have published. Next to each recording are the functions that the users may take for each of the recordings. This has changed from the original system in that all the information about a user and their activity is all accessible via their profile page.

Slide 5:

This is the recording player page. This demonstrates the view the creator will have of their own recording. All the functionality required to edit the recording can be found in its respective section of the page. The bar and the search box can also be minimised up to the top of the page so that more room can be generated on the screen if required.

Slide 6:

No changes are planned for the way Synmarks are made at present.

Scenario 3

This is just the beginning of the journey for the researcher wishing to find his own recordings (1), make some annotations (2) and link to a video (3) – the upload system has yet to be story boarded.

Slide 1

Slide 2

Slide 3

2nd ALUIAR meeting, 11th July 2011

Those attending were Mike Wald(MW) Lester Gilbert (LG), Garry Wills (GW), Seb Skuse (SS), Yunjia Li (YL), Mary Gobbi (MG), Lisa Roberts (LR), Debbie Thackray (DT) and E.A. Draffan (EA)


Apologies were received from Lisa Harris

Review of work to date

In the interim EA has met up with 5 Synote users (3 from the team) and collected the scores mentioned in the previous blog along with issues that particularly worried most researchers. More interviews are planned.

Synote page scores

Synote page scores 1-6 (excellent) completed by 4 users

There was a lively debate around these issues and it was agreed that the key problem was the uploading of media such as video and audio files ready for transcription. DT had had a particularly difficult time with her research material that needed to be secure as it related to patient data and setting aside an area which allowed DT to make a URL to go into the Synote ‘create recording’ area had proved to be quite difficult. YL agreed to look into this and help Debbie as well as plan a way of solving the problem – initially for Southampton researchers.

Uploading a file to a server and Synote

Uploading a file to a server and Synote

It is also possible to install Synote on an organisation’s server to solve the problem of sensitive data – MG has agreed to check the possibility of using a Virtual Private Network to access the department’s secure server. There was also the debate about using the ePrints API.

There needs to be guidance visible on the Synote interface such as clear steps for file uploads and better error and login feedback notification.


EA will contact Ed Fynn to help with easy guidance for uploading media files.

Transcriptions – Conventions

transcription conventions

Transcription conventions

MG provided the team with three documents to explain why it would be helpful to have some conventions available within Synote as well as the ability to colour code transcriptions.

Different colours for the various speakers may be difficult if required automatically.  Colours options for various themes was another request.
Synote can achieve the pausing in the annotations and comments



Terms and conditions – need to have different permissions for public and private data – check box.


miifigureThis persona (KT) has been built up from the comments gained from the interviews.

KT wishes to cut down the time spent on transcriptions when using Synote and finds the present design is hampering progress. Relatively accurate transcriptions  are required and a way of exporting  text and audio sections to make them accessible to all.  Ideally there needs to be a way of seeing who is speaking with colour coding and to be able to save annotations with some conventions to a different file format.   The annotations need to be tagged for the various themes and linked in some way to other interviews so that when a search is undertaken the various themes appear as a collection.  KT admitted finding the uploading of files difficult and felt that each time the system was visited there was some learning to be done!

Storyboarding new ideas for Synote

MG to storyboard qualitative methods and send them to us for plan views.
SS and YL to to storyboard initial interface ideas.


Holiday times discussed

Next Meeting

Doodle URL to be sent to the team.

Thoughts about initial system evaluations

PlanningInterviews to find out what stakeholders feel about Synote, as it is at the moment, are well underway.   Initially we were going to record all the sessions, but as these seem to be extending to around 2 hours at times, I have been using Microsoft OneNote and a scoring system for each web page encountered of 1-6 as to how easy it is to use.  I would like to ask everyone to send me a short audio file that sums up the main comments made during the interview so I can add them to Synote for future comparisons.

In the meantime we have also introduced the System Usability Scale as a ‘quick and dirty’ way of scoring feelings about Synote.  I have set up an iSurvey questionnaire so everyone can use the online version if I have not asked you to fill in a paper based version.

I would like to take this opportunity for thanking those who have already taken part in early interviews and look forward to the remaining few.   I will be back to constantly update all aspects of the development of Synote as a research tool so we can story board the next stage.