Monthly Archives: October 2012

Grande Finale for Synote Mobile

Browse Synote Recordings

Browse Synote Recordings for a lecture series

Recent videos uploaded to Synote are going to be used in a lecture series on Assistive Technologies and Universal Design – this video demonstrates how the series can be reviewed on an iPhone with an annotation being added as a result of looking at the transcript generated by YouTube and automatically imported into Synote.

Some annotations have already been added in true Blue Peter style.  They illustrate how colour and tagging can be used to help with categorisation and the development on themes when using resources.

Synote Mobile Outputs List

In the first meeting three outputs were discussed namely:

  1. Design and development of the Synote web app suitable for mobile technologies
  2. Conversions of permitted recordings to suit the mobile platform
  3. Issues related to media types, transcriptions and annotations.

There is now a web app capable of working in the majority of browsers working on a mobile device running an Android, Windows, Apple iOS system.  Content can be found at

It was found that the easiest way to make conversions suitable for Synote Mobile was to use YouTube with its captioning and transcription service that allowed for timed stamped data to be annotated and shared with others  – see recording 

There were numerous issues relating to media types, presentation of transcriptions and annotations that needed to be resolved during the time of the project.  The were discussed in a series of blogs the most important being the development of a matrix to show which browsers could play videos within a browser during the life time of the project.   

It might have been easier to have made a series of device specific apps for Synote mobile which may have offered more usability features in terms of button sizes, menu options and player modes.  However, this would not have allowed for many other access requirements, as was possible through an HTML 5 version.  The final solution works with most browsers despite the lack of player access alongside the transcription on smaller mobile devices, It allows for accessibility with captions and transcriptions where the technology has allowed and provides the user with a way of interacting with others whilst working with video and audio files in one setting.


Synote Mobile Use Case and Impact

What is it that users want to be able to do and currently can’t?

Students with Phones
Many UK students carry mobile devices capable of replaying video and want to use them for learning. However the majority of these devices cannot replay Synote’s searchable, accessible, annotated recordings. Synote was designed for use only with computers because in 2008 few students had phones or tablets capable of replaying Internet video. Synote has been used by students worldwide to interact with educational and lecture recordings.

Dr Wald has made all his Synote recordings available as Open Educational Resources and Synote itself is a very valuable Open Educational Resource, being Open Source and freely available and facilitating the reuse and repurposing of anyone’s OER recordings without requiring a copy to be created. Accessibility/Usability is a required topic on any course concerning software or the web and Dr Wald has presented and published internationally about his innovative module on assistive technologies and universal design which is freely available and includes hundreds of Synote recordings by many international experts as well as student presentations on their accessibility evaluations and associated online materials.

What will you change to make it possible for them to do it?

Searching for the web accessibility lecture on Synote using an iPhone

A new accessible mobile HTML5 version of Synote has been created to replay Synote recordings on any student’s mobile device capable of connecting to the Internet and playing videos. The use of HTML5 overcomes the need to develop multiple device specific applications. The original version of Synote displays the recording, transcript, notes and slide images in four separate panels which uses too much screen area for a small mobile device. Synote Mobile is able to display captions and notes and images below the video. Where necessary existing Synote recordings will be converted into an appropriate format to be played by the HTML5 player.

How will you know if you have succeeded?

Success will be demonstrated by objective tests using Synote recordings and mobile devices and subjective evaluations by students replaying and annotating Synote recordings on their mobile devices.

Example Scenario

iPhone synmarks

Synmarks or annotations using an iPhone

During the lecture Susan takes short notes on her phone using the Synote annotation system or synmarks with the lecture recording after the lecture allowing Susan to easily find relevant sections of the recording using ‘timestamps’.

She is able to highlight important points, set up categories for themes and tag to aid searching in the future.  She is using this method to help her write up a future assignment on the subject of web accessibility.





iPhone playing a video

iPhone showing the video to be played

Susan and her four friends then revise together in a small room in the library by writing on the whiteboard as they collaboratively go over previous Synote recordings and notes using their phones and add to and amend their own synchronised notes as appropriate. They can also create and record a group video presentation for their coursework, adding an index and notes.








iPhone transcript

Automated transcript shown on Synote Mobile

Using Synote Mobile in this way enhances their collaboration, discussion and learning compared to their previous use of five desktop computers in a line in the main computing laboratory with very little desk space and others objecting to their noise.

By using YouTube as the upload vehicle it is possible to have an automated transcript that can be corrected and annotated as above.

This allows for video captured lectures to be not only more accessible to those who have hearing impairments but also allows all students to go back over content in a way that may suit their learning preferences whether they are in the university, at home or when travelling.