Advancements in technology are continually changing the way students learn.  

Notes are now typed out on laptops instead of being written in spiral pads. Tests are given online at home instead of by pen in class.  Research is conducted through the Internet instead of flicking through the card catalog at the library.

In short, the 21st Century student relies heavily on their laptops and the Internet.

However, one technological tool that students often don’t consider to support their learning is the voice recorder.  

Perhaps you’ve seen a classmate use a hand held recorder during a college lecture and wondered why? Or maybe you’ve been wondering ‘Should I record my lectures?’

Technological advancements in hand-held recorders and voice recorder apps for mobiles now make it extremely easy to record just about any lecture or classroom discussion. But what are the benefits of recording and transcribing an academic lecture? How can this help learning?

I’m glad you asked!

Provides A Comprehensive Study Aid

Recording and transcribing academic lectures provides a comprehensive study aid.

Do you remember what your lecturer said at the beginning of the semester come finals time?

Don’t worry if you don’t. Forgetting what you learned four months prior is inevitable.  In fact, the psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus discovered in the 1880s that without any reinforcement or connections to prior knowledge, new information is quickly forgotten at an alarmingly quick rate: roughly 56 percent in one hour, 66 percent after a day, and 75 percent after six days.


Even worse is if you didn’t show up to all your classes.  You know those ones right before Spring Break when you were already soaking up the sun in Cancun?!

Many not so nice professors admitted in a US News and World Report Article on ’10 Things Your College Professor Won’t Tell You’ that come test time they will include major essay questions targeting information covered in classes that a large percentage of students blew off.

Alas, if you had a recording of that lecture from a studious friend in your class, you might just be able to pass that final.

“Even if you do make notes in the lecture, sometimes it might be more helpful to have it just repeated again by the lecturer instead of reading your notes” -Student comment from 'Staff and student views of lecture capture: a qualitative study'

Helps Understanding of Complex Material

Recording and transcribing audio to text can also help with the understanding of complex material.

Are you currently sitting through a gen ed class on earth science when your major is documentary film making?

Often, classes outside of ones major are extremely complex and difficult to understand because new terminology is sputtered out quicker than you can comprehend. Imagine this scenario:

Your professor proclaims: ‘Today we are going to talk about adiabatic rate. Adiabatic rate is the rate of temperature change in the atmosphere due to the raising or lowering of an air mass. The "dry adiabatic rate" is 5.5 deg. F. per 1000 feet, while the "wet" rate is 3.5 deg. F. per 1000 feet.’

If the term ‘adiabatic rate’ is unfamiliar to you, you might be staring at your notes contemplating the phonetic spelling, meanwhile you miss all the numeric details about the difference in dry and wet rates. Argh!

However, if you use audio to text software to record and transcribe challenging lectures,  you can replay and reread what was said in your own time to fully understand what was said.

Creates Searchable Notes

When you record and transcribe your lectures you can easily use the CTRL + F function to find relevant information quickly.

This is particularly useful in today’s advanced tech colleges that give timed online home-based tests.  Yes you can use your notes, but finding the relevant text under time pressure is impossible.  I’ve seen my step-daughter spend days putting post-its all over her notes in preparation for these online tests.

An easier way would be to have all your notes typed out on a separate device that you can search.  

Having searchable notes is equally useful when you are looking for specific key terms you might want to use in your upcoming class assignment.

Reduces Classroom Stress

Audio to text technology can also help with classroom stress.

The pressure of trying to capture and understand everything that your lecturer says creates anxiety in a lot of students, particularly those who are non-native language learners or who have a learning disability.

“With my dyslexia and hearing, knowing that I have the reassurance that it was recorded so if there is a bit where I get confused or I didn’t quite hear the lecturer, I know it’s okay. I don’t have to panic in the lecture.” - Student comment from 'Staff and student views of lecture capture: a qualitative study'

Being able to listen and pause is helpful for non-native language speakers too. If you are studying abroad or taking a course taught in a language you’re not fluent in, it is often difficult to keep up with the lecture pace. Using audio to text technology to record and transcribe the lectures reduces classroom stress as you know you have everything captured and you can listen to it at your speed.

Today’s technological advances are without a doubt changing the way students learn and if used correctly, can greatly enhance the learning experience.

Curious about using audio to text technology to record your next challenging lecture?  

Then give Happy Scribe a try. You can get a 30 minute free audio to text transcription without a subscription. Click here for more information.