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Transcribing Lectures

Transcribing Lectures

Capture Classroom Content Quickly and Easily with Speech Recognition

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 What's New in Dragon 12

Students, eager to capture the key concepts of a class lecture, often miss key points or important details because their pen and paper can’t keep notes as quickly as the teacher is speaking. Often the cryptic notes taken in class hold no meaning when they are reviewed days later. The note-taking challenge becomes even greater for students with certain physical and/or learning disabilities. Though it’s not specifically designed to automatically transcribe any lecture by any teacher, Dragon speech recognition can be used as a transcription solution by students and teachers that need to capture lecture content in writing.

 Dragon software is "speaker dependent" speech recognition, which means it's designed to accurately transcribe the voice of a single speaker. If a school or university equips each instructor with a copy of Dragon that is running on a PC or Mac while the instructor lectures to the class, Dragon can transcribe his/her spoken words on the spot. Since Dragon is trained to accurately recognize that individual’s voice, the instructor can have an immediate transcript of his/her lecture to share with all students – making Dragon an ideal accessibility solution for many schools and universities.

Challenges arise, however, when it is a student within the class that wishes to transcribe the lecture. That student’s copy of Dragon is trained to recognize the student’s voice, not the professor’s. Dragon will not automatically transcribe a live or recorded lecture delivered if the speaker is not using his/her own copy of Dragon.

Even though Dragon software was not designed to transcribe multiple voices, thousands of Dragon customers have successfully used the software to transcribe lectures using a basic technique called "voice writing" or "parroting." Simply record the lecture that you plan to transcribe and download the electronic recording to your PC or Mac. Listen to the recording of the lecture through the headphones of your Dragon headset. Activate your Dragon microphone and repeat the recorded text in your own voice as you hear it played back. Speaking the text aloud in your own voice enables Dragon to accurately transcribe the audio using the Dragon profile tuned to your voice. Dragon turns your voice into text as quickly as you can speak the words – so there’s no need to constantly rewind the audio while you try to type out the corresponding text.

Learn more about Nuance’s efforts to provide equal access to information for students of all abilities. Research is currently underway to deliver real-time captioning and transcription of class lectures and other education media.



Dragon saves students time by letting them transcribe lectures by simply  “re-speaking” audio from a recording. No more cramped fingers from jotting down notes by hand or lengthy sessions typing out recordings by hand.

Like other professionals, teachers are bombarded with work and administrative aspects of their job. With Dragon, a teacher can wear a wireless headset while delivering a lecture in the classroom so that an accurate transcript of the lecture is created on the spot. The teacher can also record his/her lecture using a Nuance-certified handled digital recorder. After class, simply transfer the audio file to a PC or Mac loaded with Dragon to automatically transcribe the audio file.



Jack Walters, who teaches management at Dakota State University in Madison, South Dakota, uses Dragon to extend the program the university is working on to increase access to online courses for students with disabilities. His focus is on assisting students who have hearing disabilities, like his mother did. Walters uses Dragon to create a written transcript of each lecture, enabling students with hearing disabilities to watch his video lectures and follow along with the transcript. Click here to watch video.

While I teach my class using my laptop computer and Powerpoint, I have my computer automatically turn my lecture into written notes. These notes, along with the Powerpoint presentation, form the nucleus of my book. Even when I teach a course on-line, I can record the written notes for a future chapter. In time, I will have all I need for my book, without sitting down and writing out what I think I might have said to my classes. Dragon's speed and accuracy now make possible what I once dreamed of doing. The new processors do the work in the background. Such a surprise!

I use Dragon Naturally Speaking while lecturing. I open a Word doc and use the class room TV projector to show my words as I am speaking. I use a microphone in which I made an internal slide switch that I use my thumb on, instead of having to go through the microphone icon on the screen or having to say "microphone on.”  It is very convenient, and my students can see my words in large size (16 or better) at the same time. After the lecture, I can email the whole thing to them.

I think the most creative use that I have found for DNS in my academic work has been in the transcription of audio-recorded class discussions, academic lectures and research interviews.  After downloading the recording from the MP3 player into my computer, I then listen with headphones while speaking what I am hearing into DNS (I feel like a UN interpreter when I do this). The transcription time is cut by more than 50%.Thank you, Nuance, for making it possible for me to pursue this wonderful academic experience as a late-in-life student. I could not have done it without DNS.

I am a college mathematics professor and use Dragon NaturallySpeaking when I create videos for my online and Web mediated classes. I am able to use Dragon NaturallySpeaking in conjunction with the program Camtasia to create closed captioned videos for my hearing impaired students. Using Dragon NaturallySpeaking is extremely helpful and time-saving for me since I have dyslexia. Typing is truly a chore for me and Dragon NaturallySpeaking greatly simplifies the task of entering the text for the audio portion of the videos that I create for my courses. This is a use of Dragon NaturallySpeaking that benefits the hearing impaired community of college students by greatly simplifying the task of creating closed captioned videos.    Dr. Robert Knight   

I teach a Contract Drafting course at Wayne State University Law School in Detroit. I am a physician/lawyer/professor. I tried many speaking programs before Dragon was introduced, and although I am well-versed in computer technology, found them cumbersome and user unfriendly. Along comes Dragon - and the world of hands-free takes on a new meaning. I use Dragon for everything, research, writing, briefs, papers and articles; I use Dragon to convert my taped law lectures, twenty-eight per semester, to written materials. I use those written materials to write books. It is almost as if I had many brains working at the same time.  I can move around the office and talk to Dragon as if it were a person - I can edit articles, grade papers and answer emails as they arrive on my desktop. I have even used two computers, and installed two copies of Dragon - and while the lectures are being typed, I can write or research on the other computer. I am not a believer in "if only there were a few more hours in the day" - Dragon helps me to be more productive and organized with the hours we have, and I can spend more time with my family, read, walk and enjoy music. You have a wonderful product. Thank you for the help in my busy life!

I am Chief of Infectious Diseases at Creighton University School of Medicine. Based on the premise that the retention of new information is improved when it is presented in a novel way, I have incorporated Dragon NaturallySpeaking in conjunction with an animated avatar, or verbot into my medical school lectures. The verbot, or verbal robot, named Sylvie appears as a young woman with reddish brown hair on the projected computer screen. I use Dragon to have a conversation with Sylvie at the lecture podium. Dragon converts my spoken input into text, and in response Sylvie gives audible and animated responses. Sylvie's natural language engine parses the input looking for keywords or phrases that have been programmed into her brain. When she finds a match between the Dragon-converted spoken input and one of the rules that govern her behavior, she gives the corresponding response. Combining Dragon NaturallySpeaking with a computer avatar has allowed me to bring into the classroom a "virtual co-presenter" who is able to provide comic relief, alternative points of view, and practical examples of medical issues. For example, Sylvie has participated as a simulated patient in lectures on sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs). She provides a vivid illustration of important issues in taking a sexual history, in being aware of the asymptomatic nature of many STDs, and in overcoming the vocabulary and social barriers between healthcare providers and patients. These simulated interactions enhance student awareness of the sensitive and sometimes awkward nature of these discussions between healthcare providers and patients. Moreover, this technology has the inestimable benefit of keeping students engaged with what is being taught. Typing my questions to Sylvie would have been tedious and boring for the students, but with Dragon NaturallySpeaking I can have a natural, flowing conversation. Without Dragon I simply couldn't have these enlightening and entertaining exchanges with Sylvie. I believe this technology has helped students become more interested in my lectures, and because they are more involved in the lecture they can master the material more easily.

A college disability service provider is responsible to provide accommodations to college students in their classes. In a remote area on an outer island it is difficult to access high technology. Dragon was used to accommodate Deaf students who had not yet learned sign language.  Using a laptop and a sound muffled mask, along with Nuance Dragon software, the students were able to have all oral communications repeated by a person who we call `Dragon Master`, sitting next to them, therefore creating a text for the students to have a transcription of the lecture and conversations of the class. We have used this process with Nuance Dragon software in all types of classes for 2 years. These students have been able to maintain a 3+ GPA, and are able to continue their education while learning sign language.

I've been teaching automotive technology for 25 years and have had just about every learning disability you can think of. The most common one I've dealt with is hearing impairment (me too). I used to need an interpreter for every student that had a hearing deficiency. Then it came to me that they ALL could read, they just couldn't hear!!, so why do I need to spend the extra money for interpretation? (sorry about the job security).  I acquired a laptop from our computer support dept. along with a wireless microphone set-up and we were in business!! My hearing impaired students can read along on the laptop as I lecture the ones with good hearing. Better yet, when the lectures are over the materials can be saved and printed, or saved to a thumb drive so the information can be taken home to study. How cool is that!!  R.J. "Smoke" Bonk

Case Studies

Landmark College

One of the only accredited colleges in the U.S. designed exclusively for students with dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD), and other specific learning disabilities, Landmark College in Putney, Vermont, integrates principles of universal design and strategic learning within a technology-rich, learning-centered environment. Using Dragon, Landmark students have been able to achieve greater independence in their schoolwork; express themselves in writing with enhanced ease and fluency; and make marked progress in spelling, reading and writing. Read More


Dragon is packaged in multiple product editions with feature sets that vary based on user needs. Academic pricing is available for individual users, and academic volume license discounts are available for schools and universities that plan to deploy Dragon speech recognition to multiple users.

·         For the PC: The Dragon Premium Student/Teacher edition is boxed for individual PC users. Learn More.

·         For the Mac: The Dragon Dictate Student/Teacher edition is available for individual Mac users. Learn More.

·         For volume licensing: Contact Nuance Sales at


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