The education world has changed. Gone are the days of dusty chalkboards and bleary-eyed students frantically scribbling down notes in a poorly lit lecture hall. Academics around the world now see the potential of new technology: adding efficiency to workflows, increasing accessibility, facilitating research and changing the way that we interact with our students.
But why should you care, right?
Professors want their students to succeed. Maybe you want to hand out a perfect set of exam notes so they ace the next big test. Perhaps you’d like to complement the day’s seminar with an extra article or two. But let’s be honest, who’s got the time? In the world of “publish or perish,” making sure students are provided with the resources they need to succeed can be a struggle.
Luckily, there are tools that can help.
Streaming apps for education
Do you find that your 8am lecture hall is devoid of life? Are your students drifting in and out of consciousness? Streaming apps are a great way to keep students in the loop. Record your lecture on your phone and play it on recording apps like Ustream later in the day.
Streaming your lectures gives you time to actively engage with your students. Imagine students answering each other’s questions and discussing the material while they listen to your lecture. You can jump in to clarify a point that students struggle with, send links related to the lecture or go into more detail about something you only touched on. The only downside is having to listen to yourself drone on for an hour.
Now you know how your students feel.
Use messaging apps to talk to students
Fewer students are going to professors’ office hours these days. While you might appreciate the R&R or the time to focus on your own research, there are better ways to spend your time than waiting for students to show up. Instead, increase communication between you and your students with messaging apps like Slack. Slack has exploded onto the workplace as THE go-to place for internal communications, and what works in the business world works doubly in the classroom.
Think of Slack as a chat room manager, but instead of chat rooms they’re called channels. You can set up as many channels as you like. Create a channel for each of your classes and another for you and your PhD candidates. There’s no limit to the number of channels you can create. They’re a great place for class announcements and provide a space for your students to discuss the material amongst themselves. You could even hold your office hours on Slack.
Automated transcription services
Automated transcription is real, it is here and the possibilities for education are endless. Seminars, lectures, panel discussions and qualitative research: all of these can now be transcribed at a fraction of the cost of traditional manual transcription by humans. And with the focus that universities place on accessibility, the importance of fast and cheap transcription is more relevant than ever.
Trint allows users to upload audio or video files and get them transcribed in less time than the length of the file. It uses artificial intelligence to convert audio to text, reaching accuracy rates of 98% or higher with reasonably good audio. But the real magic of Trint is the way that it combines a video player and a text editor, turning what would otherwise be a painful editing process - for your TAs - into something much more palatable. With the Trint Editor you can turn recorded lectures, seminars or interviews into a fully polished transcript in minutes. Your Trints can then be exported to Microsoft Word (or a variety of other formats) to share with your students or used for your research.
Better yet, Trint comes with an iOS mobile app that has a built in recorder. Imagine recording an interview using nothing but your iPhone and having it transcribed in minutes, all without needing to touch a computer. The app has a built-in recorder and can upload audio files from your phone as well. Trint can turn your voice memos into text in less time than it takes to get a fresh cup of coffee.
But the most relevant aspect of Trint’s features is the ability to create custom lists of words using Vocab Builder. Vocab Builder seems like it was purpose built for academics. Users can develop a list of words that are specific to their discipline: political science philosophers add names like Thomas Hobbes and John Locke to their Vocab Builder custom dictionary; theoretical physicists add Higgs Boson and CERN. Whatever is included in the list can then be applied to your transcription. Trint will be sure to include them, significantly improving your accuracy rates.
Ustream, Slack and Trint are just the beginning. There are apps and services out there for pretty much everything. But you need to know where to find them and how to make the most out of them. If used correctly, they’ll help you provide higher quality university education while cutting down on time.