More than half of the students registered for services through our disability services office have been approved for a note taker accommodation or permission to audio record the lecture in the classroom. Note taking is a critical piece for learning in college in classrooms where ‘hands on activities’ are impractical or not available based on the instructor’s teaching style.
Note taking involves skills that are difficult for a range of learning disabilities. Students that have limited executive functioning, organization, auditory processing or attention deficits will find note taking difficult and at times, impossible. You can find a list of learning disabilities described in this article.
The note taking accommodation process:
- The student requests a note taker from the instructor.
- The instructor makes a general announcement asking for a volunteer note taker.
- Note taker meets with the Disability Services Coordinator to explain expectations and how to log 100 hours to receive a free 3-credit class.
- Logistics are arranged for the note taker to give the notes to the instructor and then to the student with the accommodation without disclosing the student with accommodations identity. (Boston Higher Education Partnership, 2007.)
List of compounding difficulties for implementing note taking accommodations effectively:
- Lack of instruction on successful study skills and note taking.
- Finding a reliable student to take notes without direct compensation (We currently allow student note takers to log hours and they receive 3 credits hours free)
- Students with disabilities would prefer self reliance versus relying on others. Increasing self reliance is also directly correlated with student success!
I was contacted by a company based in the UK called Sonocent, which is expanding their customer base to the United States.
This software combines solutions for students with less than average note taking skills and those with disabilities. It helps with categorizing, organizing and restating ideas by including audio recording, annotation, and uploading PowerPoints. Watch this video which demonstrates these tools.
Concerns about this tool as anything you roll out in higher education is buy-in, resources (including money and hardware), and amount of time it take for students to become proficient. I plan on surveying students and having my proposal approved by November.
Wish me luck!