No Notes means no problem
New transcription service allows students interact in the classroom.
This article originally appeared in The Tiger on August 28, 2009 | PRINT

No Notes, an online service created by Matt Whitteker and Rob Imdeault, is the newest method of note taking that is changing the way students engage in classroom lectures.

The company, which was founded in Canada in 2007, provides a service that allows students to focus their full attention on lectures by ridding them of the task of taking notes. No Notes does this by transcribing lectures over the Internet and then sending a verbatim copy of the lecture back to the student. All the user has to do is record the lecture, download it onto an audio file, and then send it to the company through the Internet. Then, using voice-recognition software the lecture is put into paragraph form word-for-word, read over for errors by technicians, and sent back to the user. The turnaround for the notes is one to three business days whereupon the user is then alerted by e-mail that their file is ready.

Today, the company has anywhere from 500 to 1,000 active accounts and thousands more inactive members. This new service, which is made up of 80 percent students and 20 percent teachers, has quickly taken off since its start a year and a half ago. No Notes has grown to span Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

“The idea first came to us when we were talking to some of our friends who are medical transcribers,” said Whitteker. “We wanted to try and apply this concept to a different group and we figured who takes more notes than students? No one.”

The service proved a success with much positive feedback including highlights on national television, write-ups in university newspapers and a recent deal signed with Sony.

“Certainly gaining a Fortune 500 company like Sony as a partner was a milestone for us,” said Whitteker. Sony, which recently signed with No Notes, is promoting a deal on their Web site for users who buy a Sony voice recorder.

With this purchase, buyers will receive one hour of No Notes services for free. After that, the service runs around $9 per hour of transcription with packages of five and 10 hours that are slightly cheaper.

“Users buy them like prepaid phone cards and then just use up the hours and reload the cards if they like the product,” said Whitteker.

While the company has proved a success thus far, some students still remain skeptical of the concept.

“I think it promotes laziness and eliminates the incentive to pay attention if you know the lecture is going to be transcribed for you anyways,” said senior engineering major, Kat Mekdara.

When asked what he thought of this opinion Whitteker said, “You only have so much cognitive bandwidth with which you can engage in the subject matter. No Notes is meant to be a learning tool to allow students to focus their attention on the lecturer and ask questions in class. We want them to let the lecture seep in and make the most of their class time and enjoy it.”

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