Students piloting new audio note-taking software

By Audrey Yawn

Payton Hoffman used to get hand cramps when writing her notes because she only has use of one hand. Now using Sonocent, a note-taking software, she can listen to her professor as it records and transcribes the lesson.

Students who have physical or mental disabilities have been selected to pilot the Sonocet note-taking software in an effort to provide accommodations for them in classes where note-taking is a challenge.

Melinda McNulty, graduate assistant with student disabilities services, is working with 11 students for the fall semester on a trial run of Sonocent which was presented to her by Hoffman, a freshman social work student, who used it at her community college.

“We have looked into [Sonocent] for a while,” said McNulty. “This is the first time we’ve done a pilot.”

Hoffman likes using the program because of its understandable tutorials and useful features.

“There’s a tutorial for everything,” said Hoffman. “I like that [the audio recorder] picks up things from even far away if people talk softly in class.”

Another student, sophomore social work major Rion Thompson, had more issues with it.

“I like the concept of it,” said Thompson.  “I felt like it wasn’t user-friendly. I couldn’t circle things. … I wish it could edit out the ‘ums’ and ‘uhs’ and the story-telling that you do not need to study.”

If Sonocent isn’t the choice for students, McNulty has other programs she will look into.

“We’ve had one student recommend GoodNotes, and another one recommend Notable,” said McNulty. “The student feedback is very important.”

Donna Gray, associate director of academic services, sees pros and cons in the new software.

“With the electronic it means we have a lot of access to do notes more quickly and more easily,” said Gray. “I also think just writing it out sometimes is just one step towards processing.”

The scope for the program is focused on students with disabilities for now, but McNulty said they could look at expanding in the future.

“We’re just looking at this particular population [of students],” said McNulty. “If it were successful we could present it to see about a bigger license.”

Hoffman wants everyone to know that any progress in electronic note-taking is necessary for students like her to be equally successful in the classroom.

“People should empathize,” said Hoffman. “It needs to have a lot more awareness.” Thompson also said note-taking software of any kind helps her succeed alongside her classmates.

“I think it’s super important because you’re able to keep up with your classmates,” said Thompson. “You’re not going to be as fast as everyone.”

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