Transcription made a little easier

I have been asked to elaborate a few times after making comments about how I do interview transcriptions. In response to the most recent question, I will detail it here.

I am using f5 transcription software for Mac from The Windows version is f4. You can use your keyboard to control it, but I use a pedal that was recommended by the developers and purchased at a local office supplies store, the Infinity IN-USB-2. It is also available through or It is plug-and-play, but make sure you close down f5 before plugging in the pedal. I will leave it to you to explore the features of the software.

When transcribing, rather than typing what I hear, I dictate into my headset and use Dragon Dictate speech recognition software to do the typing for me. I do have to assist with correcting some words through the keyboard, but most is automatically typed both quickly and efficiently. If I recall correctly, this idea came from a comment on the website. A further comment stated that it is not as efficient as typing yourself. However, the dictation works wonders if you are not a good keyboarder or if you wish to give your wrists, hands, and fingers a good rest. Dragon can also transcribe directly from your audio, but do not expect accuracy if you try to transcribe other persons.

This may not be the ‘free’ solution that is often desired. Dragon Dictate or Dragon Naturally Speaking, its Windows version, comes with a price tag–as does the pedal. f5 is free at this time, but a small donation is encouraged. I was quick to donate. For f4, you will need the pro version for more than 10 minutes of audio, but the price is quite reasonable.

I hope this helps!

A.E. (Tony) Ratcliffe
PhD Research Student
Institute of Learning Innovation
University of Leicester

Extending my security practitioner online learning communities research

I recently posted about my pilot study, but I have now received Research Ethics approval to move into the main study. The first phase is observations, and I will start within a number of LinkedIn discussion groups or forums. There are different ways to approach research in such groups. I chose to be open and transparent about what I am doing, requesting support from the forum owner, manager, or administrator, and posting a message for all group members. I await responses from some of the forum leaders, but the largest group/forum, with over 45,000 members, was one of the first to concur. The message pasted below is what I have posted, adding to one to clearly state that the study was not one endorsed by them. In other words, as with all of the groups associated with organisations, they were not involved in the design or approval of the research.

I look welcome any comments or questions about this approach.



Dear forum members,

This message has been approved by the group owner.

I am conducting a PhD in eLearning and Learning Technologies through the Institute of Learning Innovation at the University of Leicester ( In the fall of 2012, I conducted a pilot study of the use of online personal learning environments and digital literacy skills by security management and investigation professionals for work-based learning and continuing professional development. ( By posting a message in different discussion groups, I received a global response from practitioners in 17 different countries who completed the online questionnaire. A number subsequently spoke with me in an individual interview. The results of the study allowed me to continue to my main study.

For my main study, I want to give full and transparent disclosure of my research intentions. While I anticipate this will not cause any discomfort, I welcome your feedback or questions. This study will focus on the actual collaborative learning activities and the digital literacy skills demonstrated.

I will visit forums in which I am a member, or I will join with acceptance of the administrator/manager. My primary research activity in the forums will be to observe the learning activities taking place within the online space. This may lead me to other online resources, and I will identify members that I may wish to contact for individual interviews or to participate in a focus group. Others may also refer me to potential study participants, or you may self-identify to me. No forum comments will be used without the consent of the one making the comments, and anonymity and confidentiality will be maintained.

An Information Sheet and Informed Consent will be provided to anyone who considers participation in an individual interview or focus group, or upon request. Interviews are anticipated to take between 30 and 60 minutes.

My research approach does not preclude me from participating in discussions, as may be appropriate.

I am a member of security and investigation related forums due to my affiliations with the field. For a number of years, I have been a member of ASIS International and the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. More detail is available in my LinkedIn profile (

This study has received Research Ethics approval from the University of Leicester and will continue throughout 2013.

A.E. (Tony) Ratcliffe, M.Ed., CFE, P.Mgr.
PhD Student
Institute of Learning Innovation, School of Education
University of Leicester
Tel:       +1 780 756 4354, Edmonton, Canada
+44 (0)116 318 3840, Leicester, UK
+44 (0)20 3286 4354, London, UK

How security management and investigation professionals use online learning environments

Now in the third year, part-time, toward my PhD at the University of Leicester, I am about to embark on my main study. This is likely a good time to give a brief report on the pilot study that I conducted in the latter part of 2012. The purpose was to study how security management and investigation professionals use online learning environments for their work-based learning and continuing professional development. I was also interested in the digital literacy skills that may be possessed or required by these professionals.

There were two phases in the study: a questionnaire followed by personal interviews. I initially posted a request for study participants in 14 discussion groups. Sixty-seven people in 17 different countries completed the questionnaire, and 35 indicated they would participate in an interview. I conducted 10 interviews by Skype or telephone, as well as 1 by email. These interviews involved participants in Canada, the USA, the UK, Lithuania, and South Africa. The response was encouraging, and it permitted me to gain a view of the field and what might be expected in the main study.

My early findings have been that, beyond face-to-face, using the telephone and email were the most common ways to connect with contacts for learning-related questions, although online discussion groups or forums are a popular way to collaborate for problem-solving and learning. However, many more participants tend to read (consume) the resources than actively engage in discussions on a regular basis. The reasons for not being more involved included concerns with sharing publicly and the need to determine the credibility of information posted.

I am preparing a paper about the pilot study that I hope to present in July in Berlin. This report will provide more analysis of the findings. The main study will include observations of online learning activities along with interviews. I hope to complete the thesis by December 2014.

A.E. (Tony) Ratcliffe
PhD Student, Institute of Learning Innovation
University of Leicester

Phew, made it!

Not so well known outside of UK universities is the ‘APG Transfer’ process. For the first year full-time, or two years part-time, new doctoral students are formally registered as ‘Advanced Postgraduate’ in at least some UK institutions. Through the APG Transfer, we are confirmed as PhD students, redirected to a masters credential, told that it is not working out, or given time to come up to an expected standard. This is certain to create a level of stress.

I registered on January 17, 2011, and I had good intentions of completing the transfer in December 2012, or sooner. Well, at Christmas I was still completing the required 6,000 to 8,000 word progress report that served as a research proposal to be defended. It had been reviewed and received extensive comments, so I continued and submitted it on January 8, 2013.

The second part of the process was the choice of an oral examination or a departmental presentation that would be followed by a meeting with the panel responsible for the transfer recommendation. The panel is to be our supervisor and at least one other member of the academic staff. I chose the oral exam, and my panel consisted of Prof Hilary Burgess (chair of the panel), Director of Studies in the School of Education, Prof David Hawkridge, a visiting scholar from the UK Open University who works with our Institute of Learning Innovation, and Dr Palitha (Pal) Edirisingha, my main supervisor.

The panel asked me to give a presentation of no longer than 15 minutes. Fortunately, I was prepared with one that I anticipated would take 10 minutes. This was followed by about 50 minutes of questions, primarily from Prof Burgess whom had not met me prior to this date. At the end of the hour, I was advised that I was successful and would be confirmed as a PhD student.

Not to waste an opportunity for sharing with others, my supervisor suggested I make a presentation of the APG process I experienced, and the presentation I gave, to others at the BDRA. This would be particularly beneficial to those new to our department and facing the APG in the future. The presentation was conducted online, using Adobe Connect, for 1.5 hours on February 13, 2013. The link will be added here when available.

The plan now is to complete the main study and submit the thesis by December 2014.

A.E. (Tony) Ratcliffe, PhD Student

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