CSU Chico Adopts Speech-to-Text Tech for Faculty

. 2 min read

California State University, Chico is offering Otter for Education from Otter.ai to teaching faculty for the upcoming fall semester. The software allows instructors to share live comments and embed education material into online lectures.

This education-specific version of Otter Voice Meeting Notes provides for real-time transcription, which helps students take notes and highlight them during lectures, transcribe research interviews, capture notes from group study sessions and process public audio data for projects. The company suggested that the software was expected to gain pickup especially for accessibility purposes, assisting students who can no longer read lips due to face-covering requirements.

The program works over Zoom and other videoconferencing platforms, recording the proceedings as people speak. It automatically generates a collection of keywords at the top of each transcript, to help students find specific segments of the lecture. Instructors can also embed slides and images into the transcripts to enhance the results.

According to CSU Chico Accessible Technology Manager Jeremy Olguin, adoption of the software is intended "to empower our faculty to help all students to get a better learning experience."

He said the university wants its students "to access our changing learning environment in a way that's most efficient and effective for them. This is the challenge facing the vast majority of learning institutions right now, especially with lectures likely to be taking place in a hybrid mix of on-site and virtual classrooms for the foreseeable future."

The software is also in use at the University of California Los Angeles for students who require academic accommodations. There, the software was adopted as an alternative to the use of peer note-takers because it gave students with learning disabilities "more control over their academic accommodations," explained Nickey Woods, assistant dean for diversity, inclusion and admissions in the graduate division, in a press release. "Otter Voice Meeting Notes empowers our students with automated live transcription, removes their dependency on others, and enables them to access the learning environment in a way that's most efficient for them."

The software uses a subscription model for pricing. The free version provides 600 minutes of real-time transcription each month. Paid editions expand the amount of transcription time allowed and add additional features, such as import of audio and video.