Creating a More Immersive Learning Environment Using Transcription

Creating a More Immersive Learning Environment Using Transcription

If there was an affordable way to consistently create highly accurate transcripts of all classroom lectures and presentations, should students still take handwritten notes in class?

That’s the provocative question posed by Echo360 CEO, Fred Singer, and University of Michigan Professor, Dr. Perry Samson, in a recent article published on Inside Higher Ed. They contend that new digital transcription tools may allow students to replace manual notetaking with classroom activities that produce even better learning outcomes.

This opportunity is made possible by the emergence of a new generation of automatic speech recognition (ASR) technologies that can create machine-based transcripts approaching 90 percent accuracy. The resulting digital transcript can be tagged and integrated with other learning content such as video, audio, e-books, or any other relevant information legally available on the internet.

How Does ASR Work?

Based on the same speech-to-text technology as Amazon’s Alexa, Echo360’s ASR solution automatically creates a text transcript from the audio recordings captured in classroom lectures and presentations. The transcript is synchronized, viewable, downloadable and searchable during the on-demand video playback experience, allowing students to jump directly to key study topics by simply clicking on relevant search results. If desired, machine-based transcripts can be edited to meet accessibility standards, providing an affordable path to compliant captioning.

Early feedback from students using Echo360’s ASR solution at UMass Amherst has revealed important ways in which ASR can support universal design. In addition to helping students with hearing disabilities, ASR helps other learners by allowing them to read and listen to lectures simultaneously. Students also reported that captioned video paired with the associated transcript helped them focus.

ASR-Generated Transcripts Create Opportunities for Deeper Student Engagement

Singer and Samson argue that, if notetaking is no longer necessary, students will be able to engage in classroom activities that may be more productive to learning. One such activity is asking questions, a behavior recognized as the foundation of student engagement and a predictor of improved student outcomes.

Asking questions can give instructors immediate feedback on student understanding, which they can use to adapt and refine their teaching styles. Questions help students to develop their thinking and advance from simple factual recall to evaluation and analysis, promoting deeper learning and understanding.

When the need to take notes is removed, students are better positioned to teach each other through group activities. Team-based assignments, where students can explain to their peers what they are learning, reinforce learning more effectively than passively listening to lectures.

Singer and Samson state that, while notetaking can still be a valuable way in which students interact with classroom content, it’s not necessarily the best way. In addition to making learning more accessible for students with disabilities, ASR has the potential to help create a more immersive learning environment. Singer and Samson write, “digital transcription allows students to explore content in real time by searching, hyperlinking to e-textbooks, bookmarking, indicating confusion and generally connecting material taught in class to the vast library of information readily available on the web. Digital transcripts allow real time connection between the class and the rest of the world.”

If students no longer are required to create their own handwritten notes, they can interact with content, and each other, in ways that are more engaging for 21stcentury learners.

Read the article by Fred Singer and Dr. Perry Samson, “The End of Note Taking?”

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