Sally McKeown identifies Sonocent's awards successes with its drive for innovation
The BETT awards 2015, held at the Brewery, London, featured 20 different categories. Dave Tucker, director of Sonocent, the publisher of Audio Notetaker, was relieved. Not only did his Leeds-based company win but this time he and colleagues were present to celebrate.
This latest success, which followed an Education Resources Award in March 2014, serves to accelerate Sonocent's rate of innovation. It has announced that Audio Notetaker is integrating the use of market leading voice-recognition software Dragon Dictate for a new 'Scribe' function.
There are many audio recording software programs – some of them free – but Audio Notetaker's way of representing recorded audio as a series of graphic oblongs is distinctive and innovative, and opens up a range of exciting possibilities. Chief among them is the ease with which non-tech users can edit and reorganise their recorded audio material as they transcribe it. Simple colouring tools, for example, allow sections of the audio to be highlighted, like green for good.
Professional-quality speech recognition now part of the offering
And the edited audio has a range of potential outputs, including as presentations or stories. But the tie-in with Dragon Naturally Speaking means that Sonocent customers now have professional-quality speech recognition at their fingertips too.
This new 'Scribe' functionality allows users to send audio directly to automatic speech-recognition tools from within Audio Notetaker as the program is now compatible with Dragon Naturally Speaking (versions 12 or 13; premium or professional). Scribe allows users to edit and reorganise their audio recording before they send it out for transcription by Dragon. They can select the entire recording or just a highlighted section to be transcribed directly back into Audio Notetaker.
It's a function that should appeal to many individual users, but it's also very useful for teachers and teaching assistants who need to assist children who struggle to put pen to paper. These learners can use Notetaker's audio tools to record their own dictation, and then edit it with their teachers and transcribe the finished item via Dragon.
Students can also highlight important points with colour as they go, helping their understanding of their work as they listen, and critically analysing their own thoughts and ideas. All this can now be done without the need to write anything.
You may recall that back at the Education Resources Awards 2014 last March, Sonocent was on the shortlist in the category "Special Education Resource or Equipment – including ICT" (see "Audio Notetaker Cinderella shines at ERA ball"). They were on a very competitive shortlist with lots of big hitters from the world of special needs including Crick Software, Inclusive Technology, Texthelp, Touch-Type Read and Spell (TTRS).
They were so convinced that the shortlist would be their limit that they had not sent a representative to the awards dinner but they won! The Education Show judges recognised that Audio Notetaker 3.1 was innovative and could be used by learners of all ages: "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."
Fired up by their success, they entered the Bett Awards 2015 category for "ICT Company of the Year - Less than £1 million turnover". Again there was strong competition and, again, they did not expect to win but they decided it was too much of a gamble to stay away.
This time they got to collect the award in person from Caroline Wright, director of the education sector trade association BESA, and celebrity comedian Josh Widdecombe (see photo above). The BETT awards judges said: "Sonocent has shown consistent growth over the past four years and offers a high level of customer service and support."
Dave Tucker was delighted to take his team up to collect the award: "It is a nice pat on the back for the work we have put into our product and customer service to ensure our solution delivers a real and positive impact on teaching and learning."
Sonocent's Audio Notetaker helps learners of all ages to record, edit and annotate audio recordings for easy navigation
Photo above: left to right, Caroline Wright (Besa), Roger Tucker, Dave Tucker, Simon Willett, Reeza Awoodun (Teched Marketing), comedian Josh Widdicombe
Sal McKeown, a recent runner-up in the “Best Author” category of Teach Secondary’s Technology and Innovation Awards, 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/.