NoNotes may mean no class

The idea of recording your lectures then having your notes typed up for you is an intriguing idea, or at least that is what Matt Whitteker, founder of NoNotes.com, an online transcribing service, thought. Faculty members worry that students will use this service as a subsitute for class. NoNotes transcribes digital voice recordings into notes for students who do not want to or are not able to take them themselves. Simply record your class, study group, brainstorming session or tutoring session, and upload the audio file to NoNotes.com, the NoNotes website advertises. The turnaround time is one to three business days, at which point you can download the typed notes or have them e-mailed to you, the website says. Currently, a similar project is being undertaken on UVM’s campus to assist with class note taking. Universal Design for Learning (UDL), a UVM initiative, is a framework for teaching and learning that addresses a wide variety of learning needs, styles and preferences, according to the UVM Center on Disability and Community Inclusion (CDCI) website. Sharing is an important aspect that UDL highlights. “Sharing [such as voice recordings posted online] provides more options for students to take in material and more openness versus competition,” Puja Gupta, a graduate student working with UDL, said. Despite this, UVM carefully articulates its policy on shared material and intellectual property. Intellectual property, as defined by a policy posted on the UVM website, is any potentially copyrightable creation or potentially patentable invention. For some students, instructor permission to access shared audio information would be useful. “Occasionally, I have to miss class due to an illness, and I have a lot of friends that occasionally miss class due to participation in UVM athletics. NoNotes would be a good way to get caught up on information from class lectures,” sophomore Andrew Schlesinger said. Some faculty, however, find what NoNotes proposes too problematic. “Personally, since I take a discussion-based approach, I don’t see any advantage to being able to hear my classes — students are graded, in part, on in-class work, so the idea of skipping a class and then just listening to it doesn’t apply.” But there is some evidence to suggest that students are in consensus with some faculty that the availability of good notes doesn’t substitute skipping class. According to an informal survey of approximately 50 students, conducted by graduate student Puja Gupta, the majority of students confirmed that they wouldn’t necessarily go to class less if notes were posted online. According to Whitteker, NoNotes is simply a service and it won’t do all the work for you. “We want everyone to go to class and that’s the best benefit,” Whitteker said. “NoNotes is a learning tool and it’s supposed to supplement students going to class.”