Make Lectures Accessible & Engaging with Lecture Transcription

By: AST Editorial
auditorium with people listening to a lecturer at the front

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Prior to the pandemic, a revolution in education was beginning thanks to advances in technology and changes in student behavior. When the COVID crisis hit, forcing institutions to move to a virtual environment it accelerating this change. Since 2020, 98% of Universities have shifted to offer online courses.

In many ways, eLearning has proved successful. The fact that 70% of students prefer online classes over the traditional classroom suggests that this trend is here to stay. While in-person classes have resumed, many post-secondary institutions have adopted blended learning. Blended learning, also called hybrid learning, involves both online classes and in-person lectures. This model provides balance that can help students. 

There are many benefits to this type of learning, including a stronger emphasis on accessibility in the classroom. Also, students are often more comfortable requesting accommodations when they’re engaged in online learning. Thanks to the greater focus on accessibility, schools are more involved in inclusivity efforts. The tools that support accessibility are also improving the overall learning experience for everyone. Lecture transcription is among the most useful accommodations that schools can provide to their whole student body.

What is lecture transcription?

Lecture transcription involves transcribing the audio from a lecture. A lecture transcript is a written copy of what instructors cover in the lecture. It’s possible to transcribe both lecture videos and lecture recordings. 

Lecture transcription is vital to accessibility, both for in-person and online. Lecture transcripts can meet the needs of individuals who are Deaf or hard of hearing. However, they also support students with learning disabilities, non-native English speakers and others.

people sitting in a lecture hall who seem listening to someone in front of them

How do you transcribe a lecture? 

There are a few different methods for lecture recording transcription. The options vary in accuracy and cost and depend on the platform.

Manual Lecture Transcription

It’s still possible to have a person manually transcribe audio and video lectures. However, this option is costly and time-consuming. The accuracy of the transcriptions can suffer if the individual lacks the proper training and skills. Of all the methods, this is likely the least efficient.

Automatic Transcription of Lectures

Certain platforms have built-in transcription capabilities. For example, Zoom and Microsoft Teams transcription tools generate automatic transcripts of streamed lectures. These automatic transcription services rely on AI (artificial intelligence). Unfortunately, this technology is prone to producing transcripts with a lot of errors. Mistakes and misspellings are problematic for students using the transcribed content. In many situations, this tool will not offer an equitable learning experience for students who need accommodations.

Professional Lecture Transcription Services

A more effective and accurate way to transcribe a lesson is by working with a professional transcription service provider, like AST. AST has a network of expert transcribers who create and edit the transcripts. It’s easy to use AST within various platforms, including Zoom, Blackboard Collaborate and YouTube. AST also has decades of experience partnering with colleges and universities to provide accessibility services.

a beautiful view of the front of a school building lined with trees and a bike on bike stands in front

How do you transcribe a lecture video?

If you have a video of a lecture and need to complete a transcription, AST can help. Whether it’s English, Spanish or French, the process is very simple and looks something like this:

  1. Upload the video to AST’s platform. 
  2. AST generates and edits the transcript. 
  3. AST sends you the file in the format you requested.

If you need the transcript quickly, AST can even provide the file within the same day.

If you’re using a platform that integrates with AST, live transcription is also an option. A professional human transcriber can join your live lecture and transcribe the entire thing in real-time.

How to transcribe an audio lecture

It’s also possible to transcribe audio lectures using similar methods as those mentioned above. Plus, there are some other ways to go about transcribing an audio file.

Manual Transcription

Again, this mode of transcription is tedious and prone to error, especially when transcribers are inexperienced. Still, trained human transcribers can convert audio to text and produce accurate transcripts.

Automatic Transcription

Automatic speech recognition (ASR) tools make it possible to transcribe audio to text automatically. It’s quick and can reduce turnaround time significantly, but the results aren’t always the most accurate. Many factors affect the accuracy of the transcription, from poor audio quality to heavy accents and even background noise. 

When it comes to the transcription of a lecture that involves complicated or unusual terminology, ASR is very often unreliable. This could result in students getting the wrong information and not understanding the meaning.

The best option is to work with a transcription company that uses technology to boost efficiency while maintaining the accuracy of professional human transcriptionists.

view of a classroom with students and a lecturer in front looking at the board with equations

Types of audio transcription

It’s important to note that there are a few different types of audio transcription: verbatim, intelligent and edited. The one you choose will depend on the purpose of the transcript. For instance, if you need the audio setting contextualized that will influence the decision. Typically, in education, an intelligent or edited transcription is the best option.

Verbatim Transcription

Verbatim audio transcription is when a transcript includes both verbal and nonverbal elements. This type also mentions any audio that is not speech. A verbatim transcript will include sighs, breathing and even background noise. In addition to the main message, with verbatim transcription, the final written document includes all of these non-speech components.

Verbatim transcription also makes use of markers, or tags, which contextualize the audio. This means that when there is a non-verbal piece of audio like a sneeze or phone ringing, the transcriber makes note of this in the transcript.

Since these pieces of audio add no real value in the context of a lecture, verbatim audio transcription is not always the right route.

Intelligent Transcription

Similar to verbatim transcription, intelligent transcription provides a high level of accuracy. However, the editors will remove the markers and tags from the final product. In this case, there’s no need to contextualize the audio setting. This form of transcription streamlines the content of a lecture to make it easier for students to read and understand.

Edited Transcription

Edited transcription produces a final written document that is the product of thorough editing and proofreading. These transcripts are also simplified. Transcribers will remove anything that does not add to the understanding of the content. This form of transcription also involves correcting grammatical errors and using a simplistic style of writing. The purpose of this type is to produce written text that serves as an article or blog for general consumption.

event hall full of people with a presenter on a stage showing profected slides for Lecture Transcription

Examples of lecture transcription use cases

There are so many reasons to transcribe lectures beyond offering an inclusive and accessible learning environment. Your institution needs to be transcribing all of its lectures to accommodate, support and better engage students.

Improved comprehension and retention 

Research has proven that if instructors present information in a bimodal format, learners’ comprehension and retention rates are higher. In this case, bimodal refers to the two simultaneous ways in which the instructor gives the lecture- audio and text. Hearing and seeing, as well as the ability to check the transcript for clarification later, greatly improves overall retention. This is one example of a lecture transcription use case that benefits everyone. Additionally, international students often understand better with a written copy of the lecture. 

Self-paced learning

Lecture transcription allows students to follow along at their own pace. Some students might not be able to keep up with the professor’s speech. In these cases, transcripts support students’ individual learning speed and style. Students can also revisit lectures as the transcripts are shared online for easy access.

Enhanced study sessions

Since transcripts are searchable, students are able to go back and find the content of a given lecture and review it easily. Whether a student missed a class or has incomplete notes from the lesson, the transcripts can fill in the blanks.

Multi-sensory learning

The combination of audio and text is a form of multi-sensory learning as it engages multiple senses to teach a lesson. It’s a proven and effective method of transferring information to learners. It caters to students with dyslexia and other needs, though it’s beneficial for everyone.

A written reference

Having written records of each lecture is not only beneficial to students but it serves professors, instructors and guest speakers as well. If a professor is uncertain where he or she left off, or a guest speaker wants a copy of their presentation, they can reference the transcript. This can be helpful for lesson planning and test preparation.

Ultimately, college and university lecture transcription contributes to student success in higher education.

Create an accessible classroom

Statistics suggest that 96% of institutions are lacking in accessibility. Each of those schools could be letting their students down by denying an equitable learning experience. Fortunately, if you prioritize accessibility regulations and foster an inclusive learning environment, you’ll benefit all of your students. 

Whether it’s providing closed captions, audio descriptions of images, or transcriptions of lectures, it’s up to you to make your classroom inclusive and accessible to all. 

Lecture transcription isn’t just for universities and higher education. If you’re searching for high school lecture transcription software, AST provides accessibility solutions for all levels of education. Get in touch with us to find out how you can use our resources to boost accessibility and inclusivity at your organization.