'Nothing like it' was how judges described 'Audio Notetaker'. Sal McKeown basked in its glory
Sal McKeownReflected glory: Sal McKeown with Paul RossCompanies often say, "We never expected to win", and observers think they can scent false modesty. But the folks from Sonocent certainly did not expect Audio Notetaker to win an Education Resources Award last week in the category of "Special Education Resource or Equipment – including ICT". In fact they were not even there!

Audio Notetaker was up against some pedigree heavyweights. All its rivals are well known names in the world of special education needs (SEN).

Crick Software and Inclusive Technology both have an enviable track record of awards to their name. Texthelp has long been in the forefront of dyslexia solutions and was one of the big players in the Home Access Program so teachers know and love the product. Similarly the touch-typing program Touch-Type Read and Spell (TTRS) is very popular as a literacy and dyslexia solution and has been a favourite with schools looking to help pupils with a visual impairment.

In some ways a new kid on the block

So Sonocent's Audio Notetaker 3.1 was in some ways a new kid on the block. However, Sonocent has invested a lot of effort in taking the software out into schools and showing what it can do and this certainly has paid off. (See also “Audio editing that's like playing with building blocks”  and “Transcription just got easier - Audio Notetaker 2.0”.)

The Education Show judges said of Audio Notetaker 3.1, "We’ve seen nothing else like it on the market. It is a good resource for dyslexic or visually impaired learners, English as an Additional Language (EAL), speech and language, memory issues and revision. This hugely flexible tool for cross-curricular teaching and learning is versatile and suitable for any ages, from early years to adult."

The awards ceremony was held at the National Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham (full list of awards below) and was hosted by Paul Ross, radio presenter, media personality and older brother of Jonathan Ross. But while he was geared up to hand over the award, the father and son owners of Leeds-based Sonocent, Roger and Dave Tucker, were showing off Audio Notetaker to American markets. (The other ICT awards went to LEGO and TTS – see below.)

Caroline WrightBesa's Caroline WrightCaroline Wright, director of BESA, the education sector trade association and organiser of the Education Resources Awards, said, "With the launch of the new National Curriculum later this year it was great to see such a fantastic number of entries offering innovative teaching and learning resources designed to help schools inspire and excite pupils. As schools are given increasing freedom to invest in products to suit the specific needs of their students, it is so important to highlight the high quality of resources such as Audio Notetaker."

At the ERA Awards ceremony, in the absence of Roger and Dave Tucker, I had been asked to collect the award on Sonocent's behalf. That was because I had recently been looking at Audio Notetaker as a tool to help with memory and will be doing a webinar called "Why the Sonocent School Pack is a vital tool in the memory game" on Thursday April 3, 3:30-4 pm. (See YouTube explanation of Audio Notetaker for SEN by Abi James below.)

So this Cinderella really did get to the ball where she was presented with the award by Jonathan Swift, editor of Education Today, and met Paul Ross, the celebrity host and brother of Jonathan. It was great fun (see photo above) and in these dark days for commercial software companies it was so nice to be able to pass on some good news.

More information

Sonocent's 'Audio Notetaker' 
Education Resources Awards 2014 
“Audio editing that's like playing with building blocks”
“Transcription just got easier - Audio Notetaker 2.0”

Sal McKeown is a freelance journalist covering special needs. She recently published two packs of conversation cards about dyslexia aimed at Pupil Premium spending – Dealing with Dyslexia at Home and Dealing with Dyslexia at School. The cards cost £14.99 per pack and can be ordered online at www.finkcards.myshopify.com/.

Winners of the 16th annual, prestigious Education Resources Awards

The other awards involving technology for learning went to the TTS group for its ruggedised and waterproof floor turtle Wonder Bug (Best Early Years Resource or Equipment involving ICT) and to LEGO for Story Starter and Mindstorms (respectively Best Primary and Best Secondary Resource).

Full list of Education Resources Award winners 2014
Best Special Educational Resource or Equipment (non ICT) – Crossbow Education for The Visual Stress Collection
Best Special Educational Resource or Equipment (involving ICT) – Sonocent for Audio Notetaker 3.1
Best Early Years Resource or Equipment (non ICT) – TTS Group for Water pump Station
Best Early Years Resource or Equipment (involving ICT) – TTS Group for Wonder Bug
Best Primary Resource or Equipment (non ICT) – Kit for Kids for Chloe the Caterpillar Blue Design Indoor Mat and Counting Ladybird Cushions
Best Primary Resource or Equipment (involving ICT) – Lego Education for Story Starter
Best Secondary Resource or Equipment (non ICT) – English & Media Centre for Spotlight on Literacy
Best Secondary Resource or Equipment (involving ICT) – Lego Education for Mindstorms
Educational Book Award – Oxford University Press for Project X Alien Adventures
Supplier of the Year: with less than £1million annual turnover – Jolly Back
Supplier of the Year: with between £1million and £10million annual turnover – Frogtrade
Supplier of the Year: with over £10million annual turnover – YPO
Education Exporter of the Year Award – Consortium
Innovation Award – Fiction Express Discovery Books    Fiction Express for schools
Marketing campaign of the year Award – Scholastic, for National Curriculum in England/100s
Educational Establishment of the Year Award – William Edwards School, Essex
Leadership in Education Award – Sofina Islam, Stanton Bridge Primary School, Coventry
Outstanding Achievement Award – Neville Hudson, Gratnells

The Awards are organised by the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) and Brilliant Marketing Solutions Ltd, to celebrate the innovative approach to learning by teachers, institutions and organisations across all levels of education. The winners were selected by an independent panel of experienced education and industry professionals.
The ERA’s Media partners are Education Guardian and Education Today.

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