It doesn’t take much to get me excited, but it takes a lot to get me fired up. #CreateAccessibility has gotten me fired up, and I’m taking action! 

I recently returned home from the Google Innovation Academy (read more here), where I worked with 35 other amazing educators, 6 coaches, 4 program mangers, and many more Google employees and Innovators. The main purpose of the three intense days is to put together a project to solve a problem in education. I’ll share more on my project in the future, but right now I want to focus on my friend Melissa Oliver‘s project. 

Create Accessibility

Melissa’s project, Create Accessibility, is centered around making online content accessible to all learners and all humans. Melissa says, “The one [COL16 takeaway] that feels the most urgent is the realization that If I want an accessible environment, I must create it. I can no longer wait for technology to be invented or perfected to make things accessible. I can no longer wait for policies or laws mandating accessibility guidelines within the online environment. I can no longer expect people or organizations to utilize universal design principles.” She hopes to empower students and teachers to caption their own videos, which benefits not only Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals, but also all our learners. I’m definitely not an auditory learner, and I’ve found captions very helpful when watching informational videos.

When we were accepted to #COL16, Melissa messaged me and told me that there were some humorous errors in my auto-captions. (I forgot to get a screenshot, but I’m pretty sure “butthead” was in there somewhere.) I went in and fixed my captions, but then didn’t think much else about it.

Just like Melissa mentions in her blog post “Curb Cuts, Captions, and Universal Design,” we don’t notice curb cuts (the small ramps in the sidewalk that allow us to move from sidewalk to street), until we have a need for them. The same thing is true with video captions. Captioning is not something in the forefront of my mind–until now.

So what am I going to do about this?

I’ll be honest, adding in captions takes time. And when I’m making a flipped video or quick tutorial for my students or teachers, I know I’m not going to want to stop and add in captions. But, I realize how essential this is to making my online content accessible to all, so it’s worth it. Please keep me accountable, especially once the school year gets busy.

I tried out the “transcribe and auto-sync” feature on YouTube (go to your video > “subtitles & cc” > select language > select method > “transcribe and auto-sync”). For an almost 5 minute video, it took me about 20 minutes to transcribe and check my captions. My favorite part of this feature is that I can set the video to automatically pause when I start typing. I would listen to a couple seconds, then start typing what I hear. When I was done, YouTube auto-synced my captions to the audio. It was easy!

Transcribing my “Quizzes in Google Forms!” YouTube video
Double checking my auto-synced captions before publishing.

Watch my accessible video here. Remember to turn on the captions!

I challenge you all. Go to your YouTube channel, find your shortest video, and try out the “transcribe and auto-sync” captioning feature. 

#COL16: Finding My [Family]




UPDATE: I recognize that the word “tribe” is a cultural misappropriation, and this word should not be used in the context of this post. I have gone through my blog post and replaced the word tribe with [a more appropriate term]. I left it in the title of Seth Godin’s book, seeing as it is a book title. 

I recently finished Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin. While reading, I kept thinking to myself, “I want this. I need this. Where/how do I find this?” I want to be part of a [group of like-minded people], and part of something bigger than myself. I’m so thankful that I found my [family] in my #COL16 cohort, part of the #GoogleEI family.

First, let’s rewind. Back in January 2016, I applied for Google Innovator, but wasn’t accepted. By far, the application was not my best effort, and I readily admit that. However, I’m so thankful I didn’t get in the first time: I learned a lot through the process, and more importantly, I’ve transformed into a very different person since January (read more here). Coming to the COL 16 experience, I’m much more mentally mature, confident, and ready to tackle the world.

#TeamShoe broke out of the
Breakout EDU bus!

On Wednesday night I arrived in Boulder, Colorado (after spending Saturday to Wednesday at ISTE, reflection blog post coming soon) rested and ready to engage in 3 action-packed days. The following days were filled with time working in our teams (shout out to #TeamYoshi!), in partners and small groups, and listening to some incredible humans inspire us to think deeper and dream bigger.

My brain is still buzzing with all of the incredible conversations and memories from last week. Here are my biggest personal takeaways from #COL16:

I unintentionally limit myself by what I think I can do, not what I actually can do
Over time, I’ve built artificial walls around me, and told myself “I can’t do that” or “I’m not capable of achieving that” or even worse “I’m not good enough to do that.” After some incredible heart-to-heart conversations with friends and coaches this past week, I’ve realized that there are very few limits to what I can do; the walls around me are slowly coming down.

Thanks to the swag team
for making our t-shirts happen!

“The only thing holding you back is your own fear.” (Seth Godin)

Embrace “Living in Beta”
Shout out to Molly Schroeder for sharing her Spark session on “Living in Beta.” This concept pushes the boundaries of my 2016 One Word: intentional. With this mindset shift, I’m more willing to put out my ideas for feedback, iterate, and learn from failures. I hope I can see Molly’s full keynote sometime soon to revisit and think on my own “Living in Beta” journey.

Led by Jennie in the Back

I have found my [family]
My #COL16 family is my [family], and so is everyone else who has been through the Google Innovator Academy (previously Google Teacher Academy). I felt the love from #MTV16 as they supported us through our adventures, and I felt the love from all the #GoogleEI friends I met and connected with at the Google Meet-up at ISTE. I’m thankful I can laugh, cry, and celebrate with my #COL16 family. I couldn’t ask for a more selfless, giving, creative, and crazy group of humans.

We have a lot to be thankful for!

#COL16 coaches & program managers

I appreciate everyone who worked hard behind the scenes to make our cohort possible. Hugs to our coaches: Jennie Magiera (Jennie in the back!), Sarah Thomas, James Sanders, Sergio Villegas, Kern Kelley, and Molly Schroeder! Thank you program managers: Wendy Gorton, Becky Evans, and Michelle Armstrong! Thank you to all the other Google and EdTechTeam people for making this experience possible for us.

In the next few weeks I’ll start working on my Innovator Project. Stay tuned…

Thank you Google Boulder!