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Notetaking Technology Comparison

The DRC provides loaners and training for several notetaking technology options (Sonocent Audio Notetaker, Livescribe smartpen, OneNote) to students who need to use them as a notetaking accommodation. Read below for a comparison of the features of these three unique notetaking technologies. 

Sonocent Audio Notetaker software/app

  • Available for checkout by eligible DRC students.
  • Unique audio notetaking software for Mac/Windows that automatically breaks up recorded audio into visual "chunks" (representing discreet phrases) that can be color-coded, edited, transcribed, and summarized for optimal learning and organization 
  • Use the C.A.R.E. process for notetaking --> Capture, Annotate, Review, Engage 
  • Record audio with your laptop, or use the free Sonocent Recorder app or a digital voice recorder, then import the audio into the software as needed. 
  • Import PowerPoint slides, PDFs, images, and/or screen captures into a "project" and integrate them with your recorded audio and typed notes accordingly. 
  • Advanced audio clean-up capabilities (e.g., remove hiss, clicks), ability to adjust audio playback speed, voice pitch. 
  • No need to buy special notebooks or deal with hardware problems that can occur with smartpens. 

Livescribe Smartpen

  • Available for checkout by eligible DRC students. (*Visit Smartpen Loaner Program for more information)
  • 3 models available: Echo, Aegir, and Symphony. Echo records audio via the microphone built into the pen while the Aegir and Symphony both record audio via the microphone in the user's smartphone. To learn more about the differences between the 3 smartpen models, check out Smartpen Comparison Chart.
  • Records audio and syncs it to notes that are being written while the pen is in record mode (and also when the pen is in playback mode) 
  • Requires the use of unique dot notebooks 
  • Easy to retrieve audio notes just by tapping on a written word, sketch, symbol, etc. - hear the audio that was being recorded at that exact moment in time 
  • A digital version of the notes can be uploaded to the free companion software (Echo Desktop or Livescribe+), where it can be reviewed and organized. Uses handwriting recognition so you can do keyword search of your written notes 
  • Alleviates the stress of note taking; never miss anything in class when you record audio 
  • Easy to use, but it’s up to you to employ a notetaking technique and structure that works for you.  

OneNote software/app

  • Free digital notetaking software for Mac/Windows; part of Office 365.
  • Endless canvas with no margins; no need to save document – it is done automatically and syncs with OneDrive 
  • Sync your notes between multiple devices (laptop, smartphone, tablet) 
  • Create notebooks (e.g., Fall quarter) with sections (courses) and pages (daily lecture notes) 
  • Use the "Insert audio recording" feature to record lecture audio that will sync with whatever you type (or write/draw if using a tablet like Surface Pro). Click on what you typed/wrote and hear the audio recorded at that moment in time. 
  • Use the “Insert File Printout” (Win) or “Insert PDF Printout” (Mac) to import lecture slides into OneNote so you can take notes on them during class. 
  • Convert your handwritten notes to text (works best on tablet computers) 
  • Stay organized by clipping webpage articles, inserting photos, creating to-do lists in their appropriate notebook sections  
  • No need to buy special notebooks or deal with hardware problems that can occur with smartpens. 

If you would like a consultation and training on one or more of the notetaking technology options described above, please visit Assistive Technology for more information.

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Location: Bldg 124 (Student Services, across from Spanos Stadium)
Phone: 805-756-1395
Fax: 805-756-5451
Email: drc@calpoly.edu

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