Evolving edtech tools and AI make it easier than ever for all students to learn without barriers.

GUEST COLUMN | by Tom Livne

Consider this: a single weekday edition of The New York Times contains more information than the average person in seventeenth-century England was likely to come across in their entire lifetime. This encapsulates the power of living in the Information Age, where a massive amount of information is constantly available at one’s fingertips. When it comes to education, technology has created an unprecedented scope of new learning opportunities and tools. A virtual embarrassment of riches.

Today’s college students are true digital natives, having been raised in a world where technology is ubiquitous. This familiarity with digital devices creates an expectation for their learning environments to be just as technology-enabled as every other aspect of their daily lives.

As such, the traditional, lecture-driven “sage on the stage” model has grown increasingly obsolete, giving way to new and improved paradigms, where student engagement is the priority. This new standard leverages technology as the great enabler, fostering more collaboration and communication for improved outcomes.

Bridging the classroom accessibility gap

The rise of sophisticated technology has propelled a sea change in higher education. In recent years, online methods and multimedia content have supplanted older methods, becoming mainstays of the educational landscape. To support this new model, technology has expanded to include learning tools like learning management systems, video hosting platforms, in-class response systems, tablets, smartphones, and more. In this context, where the learning process relies on audiovisual materials, transcription and captioning technology is essential for student success.

Such tools are particularly critical for students who are deaf or hard of hearing. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, more than 20,000 deaf and hearing-impaired students attend an American college or university each year. These students are often left at a disadvantage, with an extra set of challenges to contend with on top of the difficulties that come with mastering demanding course material.

Luckily, as technology integration grows in schools, new ways to bridge classroom accessibility gaps have emerged, largely centering around transcription and captioning solutions.

Look to AI transcription as a solution

Transcription was once difficult to access, due to the amount of manual work that went into it. In relying solely on humans, the turnaround time was far too lengthy to truly assist students. The significant time commitment also rendered it a costly expense for many institutions. That is no longer the case.

Advanced solutions incorporate machine-learning algorithms, allowing the technology to be trained with specific terms related to the course material and leading to more precise results that continuously improve to reach near-perfect levels. An AI solution also enables faster turnaround times as well as more options for customization through seamless integrations with LMS platforms. The result is better, faster, and easier service to make workflows more efficient and, most importantly, bolster student success.

Beyond being an invaluable resource for those who are deaf or hard of hearing, AI-driven transcription and captioning has been proven to enhance the learning process for all students, including those who prefer to learn by reading and non-native English speakers.

By engaging multiple senses, transcripts and captions enhance the way students absorb and understand the information taught in class, resulting in increased comprehension and better grades. These effects were demonstrated in a study conducted by San Francisco State University, where researchers found that students who used captioned video achieved a full GPA point increase over students who did not.

Build an accessible environment

In addition to benefiting students and educators alike, there is also a legal element to consider. Both the Americans with Disabilities Act and Rehabilitation Act require audiovisual content to be transcribed or captioned with at least 99% accuracy, a level of precision that is costly to achieve using solely manual methods.

However, with advancements in the field like artificial intelligence in speech-to-text transcription, less human intervention is needed in the process, reducing the overall cost and improving classroom learning. Turning to an AI-enabled solution provides institutions with the peace of mind that they are in compliance with regulations.

As educational technology continues to evolve, organizations are capitalizing on the surge of digital resources, with tools like AI-enabled transcription and captioning technology being leveraged to bolster academic success. In particular, real-time transcription and captioning represents an exciting new frontier for AI integration, containing unprecedented potential to increase engagement and success.

The worldwide reach of smart technology has brought about a new age of on-demand education. Given this shift, it’s clear that digital technologies are the key to unlocking exciting possibilities and disrupt the very nature of higher education. Students benefit from more compelling learning experiences, while administrators and educators see continuously improving results.

Tom Livne is the co-founder and CEO of Verbit.