Beyond the lecture: Note-taking support throughout academic life

The transition to college brings with it many new environments. New students have to adapt and there’s often a lot of pressure to take in information and learn new skills. For students who struggle to take traditional, handwritten notes this can present a number of barriers.

It’s clear that note-taking support is invaluable for these students in traditional classes and lectures, but where else might they need help?

In a recent webinar, Lindsay Green (Assistant Director of Disability Services and Academic Access at Marymount Manhattan College) spoke to us about some other environments where the ability to take useful, comprehensive notes is vital.

Discussion based classes

Sometimes it’s not just the teacher who provides useful information in a class. In higher education other students will often also make valuable contributions. Some classes and seminars are based entirely around this model, so the ability to listen and take down useful points is a key tool for success.

Unfortunately, traditional note-taking accommodations such as peer notes are often not suitable for this kind of class. What one student believes is an important contribution can be very different from another, so personalized notes are vital.

What’s more, in a fast-paced discussion where the student needs to be able to listen and contribute themselves, handwritten notes may not be the best option for any student.

“Having the ability to use a program like Sonocent that captures everything that is said in class, and then allows you to go back after and engage with those notes and highlight things that are important is definitely imperative.”

Lindsay Green
Marymount Manhattan College


Throughout their time in higher education, students will have to attend a number of meetings. This is especially true for new students during their orientation. They will have to take note of information which is vital to their success and well-being at college.

For those who struggle to take handwritten notes, this is another example of where traditionally they would have to rely on someone else to take notes for them.

“We used to have a buddy system. A student would go with a student registered with us to take notes in a financial aid meeting or a meeting with residence life. Now they are just able to use Sonocent. That is very imperative for giving independence back to the student. That is one of my favourite things. The students no longer rely on someone else.”

Lindsay Green
Marymount Manhattan College

Lab classes

Many subjects have a lot of practical classes rather than lectures. In these environments, note taking can often be a long way from a student’s mind, as they are focusing on the tasks they are completing.

“Typically when you’re in a lab class you are not taking notes. Someone else is not taking notes either, the professor is just talking. I have had students use Sonocent in those lab classes; they’re able to go back and remember different formulas or technique said out loud.”

Lindsay Green
Marymount Manhattan College

Independence at college

Creating independence at college needs to extend beyond the traditional classroom environment. It’s important to be aware of all the times when students will need to take note of information, and understand how to best support them in this.

Sonocent gives students a way to take comprehensive notes in the moment, wherever they are, and then review afterwards.

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