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Rewriting Stories: Improving a Course's Narrative by Transcript Editing

When producing online content, it is difficult to script a lecture completely.  It may turn out to sound dull, or instructors simply do not have the time or energy to devote to this purpose.  Many of them even say that reading from a script takes away a lot from their delivery and that they don’t sound as good as if they were just talking. However, when they just talk, they may not keep their thoughts in the right order, or they might go in circles sometimes. To solve this problem what we do is that after the recordings have taken place, we use a software called “Descript” to analyze the content of the lecture and edit its flow by rearranging the components into a more streamlined flow.  Moreover, we take away uncomfortable silences, filler words, and prolonged gaps.  The result looks and feels completely different.  This results in a polished story that is easier to follow and remember, taking the lecture flow to a new level.


Building a course is similar to creating a story.  The flow is essential. How elements connect to each other is also important.  Each class lecture, a scene.  Each course topic, a part of the plot.   In essence, an academic 15-week course is a long story, and it matters how the events in it are told. This order of these matters when trying to boost engagement and immerse the audience in the narrative to create a memorable experience.  However, SMEs sometimes are not the best storytellers. They for sure have great stories to tell, but sometimes they need some assistance on how to structure their tale.

But fear not, ID’s are here to help a bit.  The bards of storytelling, who add that extra spice to keep the audience’s attention alive.  First, we help with the course mapping process and breakup of content, but that is not what this talk is about.  Then we help the SMEs loosen up and perform in front of a camera, but that’s not the tale we are discussing, oh no. After the story has been written we and the videos recorded, we can further enhance the content through transcript editing.  Why wait until then to apply some polish?  It is not something we look for, but it just happens sometimes with quick course development.  Even if we would like to, we don’t have the luxury of working with busy faculty for extended periods, so we can’t make all recommendations at the right time.  Finally, I also must add that the majority of the time, faculty prefer to perform and record live and not from a scripted device.

If they use slides, that does not guarantee perfect delivery because being in an isolated room might make their mind wander off.  If they don’t have time to practice the play, they might go back and forth on the topics, which, while it can make interesting tales, does not work well when you are trying to remove all extraneous cognitive load.  So, we started using an app called Descript.  This allows us to produce an excellent transcript that we can further use for editing.  All you have to do is push a few buttons to remove silence gaps and filler words almost automagically.  Then, read the transcript and rearrange the words as you like, remove duplication, perhaps change the order of thoughts if necessary and then render it all back where it came from. This results in a more polished flow of ideas, and you can even insert new slides if you want to better support what the students are told.  You can take even further and move thoughts from one lecture to another and give it an entirely new glow, if time allows you and you are in control. 

So this is it.  How to edit a story from the transcript.