How to Record & Transcribe a Lecture

How to record and transcribe a lecture

If you're a student, you'll know how challenging it can be to try to keep up with note-taking during a lecture. You're busy trying to write down what your professor last said, and before you know it you've missed a huge section, your notes don't make sense, and you've lost track of what they've moved on to next.

And if you're a professor, you'll know how time-consuming it can be to add notes to accompany your slides so that those that have missed class can catch up.

That's where recording the lecture and creating a transcription comes in handy. For students, it means you can stay focused on the lecture, knowing you'll have detailed notes ready for you afterwards. For professors, it means automatic lecture notes to send to your students.

In this guide we'll walk you through how to record a lecture -- whether it's online or in person -- and how to transcribe it afterwards.

Jump to:

Why record a lecture?

There are multiple reasons to record a lecture, for both students and professors.

For students:

  • Stay focused during the lecture

Stay focused and engaged during your lectures, knowing that you'll be able to watch the recording back (or better yet, get a transcription) later. Also, without your laptop open there's less chance of getting distracted by social media or news!

  • Learn at your own pace

We all learn differently, and recording your lectures means you can review the content on your own schedule and at your own pace. This can help with information overload and reduce stress and mental fatigue.

  • Get searchable and shareable notes when you transcribe the recording

If you transcribe your lecture recording, you'll get searchable notes that you can skim-read and condense into revision notes. Share them with your classmates for extra kudos!

For professors:

  • Make lectures more accessible

Sharing a recording of your lectures with your students helps to make lectures more accessible across the board. For students who are hard of hearing or have learning disabilities. For non-native English speakers. And for those with different learning styles.

  • Give students the chance to catch up

If a student was sick or if they've got behind on their learning, a recording of your lecture means they can catch up, fill in any gaps in their notes, and stay on top of their studies.

  • Save time making detailed lecture notes

By recording your lecture and getting a transcript of the recording, you'll save time annotating slides and creating notes for your students to refer back to.

How to record a lecture

Before the lecture begins, you'll need to do a bit of preparation:

1. Get the right equipment

If you're a student or professor recording an in-person lecture, or a professor recording an online class, you'll need a voice recording device. Many laptops and smartphones have a built-in microphone, however these are unlikely to capture a good-quality recording of the lecture. Invest in a hand-held recording device or an external microphone that can be plugged into your laptop or smartphone -- the initial investment will pay for itself over the course of our studies!

2. Students, sit up front

Even with an external microphone or handheld recording device, you're not going to capture everything the professor says if you're sitting at the back of the lecture hall. To get the highest quality recording, sit close to the professor, ideally on a quiet row to minimize background noise.

3. Professors, choose your online recording tool

If you're conducting your lecture virtually, then your school or college likely has specific learning management software, like Zoom or Microsoft Teams, for hosting online lectures.

Both platforms allow you to record your lectures, and only the meeting host can start the recording. But once the lecture has ended, all attendees have access to the recording.

Note for students: Online lectures won't always be recorded, and since only the host can start the recording on Zoom and Teams, you'll need to speak to your professor ahead of the lecture to ask them to hit record.

4. Students, get permission

This is an important bit. It might surprise you to learn that not all professors will allow their lectures to be recorded. Many are concerned about their intellectual property being distributed, and many colleges even have formal policies on recording academic lectures.

Always check with your professor to make sure they're happy with you recording the lecture, and never distribute or share the recording outside of personal use, as this could breach copyright laws.

5. Hit record!

Start the recording, and remember to press stop and save your audio file once the lecture has ended.

Then it's time to transcribe the lecture recording...

How to transcribe lectures

Once you've recorded your lecture, it's time to get your revision notes sorted. There are two ways to do this: you can do it yourself, or use a transcription tool like Transcribe.

  • Do it yourself

Manually taking notes is the cheapest option, however that would involve watching the entire lecture back. With some stopping and starting along the way, an hour-long lecture could easily take up a couple of hours of your precious time!

  • Use Transcribe

This is by far the easiest way to get lecture notes. Upload your recording to Transcribe and you'll get a detailed transcription in a matter of minutes. Once you've got that, you can:

  • Export it in your preferred format (including DOCX and PDF)

  • Skim-read it and search for key points

  • Condense the information and reformat it into easy-to-read notes

  • Share your notes with your classmates for extra kudos!

With Transcribe, you get your first 15 minutes of transcription time for free. After that, you can buy additional credit for $5/hour (less than the cost of your campus coffee!) or save money and get 10 hours for $35.

Download the Transcribe app or use online editor to get started, or check out our step-by-step guide to transcribing audio using Transcribe.

Written By Katie Garrett

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