by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
A college student asked:
What is the best method to hear the comments going back and forth between the professor and the students in a college class? Do you know of a digital recorder that can be paired with an audio transmitter/receiver loop system? Would this work for listening later?
It’s easy enough to record what goes on in a classroom, but whether you will be able to understand the speech later is quite another thing. The quality of recordings are dependent on how close the microphone is to the person speaking at any given time. If the professor and students always speak directly into microphones, then this could be an effective method. However, in practice, passing microphones around in classrooms becomes cumbersome and slows down conversations and thus seldom works.
You could put an FM microphone on the professor and hear everything he/she says, which is great as far as it goes, but its catching what the student’s say that is so hard.
Furthermore, if you have less than perfect discrimination, you’ll find that you won’t understand a lot of what is recorded anyway. Therefore, personally, I wouldn’t use such a system since I have problems with discrimination.
Second, again depending on your hearing and discrimination you could try a PockeTalker and directional microphone. This can work quite well, but you have to know who is talking next so you can aim the microphone at the right person, or you will miss all the short comments. Furthermore, aiming the microphone and trying to take notes at the same time is not easy. This method would work better in small classes, especially if you were all sitting in a circle, not in large classrooms where some of the students are quite a distance from you.
Third, and I’ve saved the best for last, is to have real time captioning (CART). Not only do you “hear” everything then, you also have a complete transcript of what was said and can make notes from it later.
There are two “versions” of real time captioning. One is where the captionist is right there in the classroom with you. The other is called “remote CART” where you are connected to the captionist via the internet.
I’ve used both CART and remote CART a good number of times and love using it.