Shaping the future of Note Taking Tech with Cornell University

You may have heard about it already through our webinars or from our team – Glean, the next evolution of Sonocent Audio Note Taker, is ready to launch.

Clock 3 min read Calendar Published: 23 Jan 2020
Author Luke Garbutt
Shaping the future of Note Taking Tech with Cornell University

You may have heard about it already through our webinars, in conversations with our team, or through word of mouth – Glean, the next evolution of Sonocent Audio Note Taker, is ready to launch.

To get here, we conducted a Fall trial with a number of North American institutions. Among them was Cornell University.

Headed up by Accommodations Specialist Sarah Bonawitz, Cornell’s Glean trial helped shape the product’s development significantly.

Sarah joined us in a recent webinar to share her story,


Cornell University Disability Services

  • Serve 10% of the student population (around 2,000 students)
  • Offer a variety of note taking supports, including smart pens, peer notes and Sonocent Audio Notetaker

For Sarah’s department, the student always comes first. That’s why students approved for note taking support independently identify a tool that works for them.

And with this system, the more choice a student has, the better:

‘Is the student an auditory learner, a visual learner or a kinesthetic learner? What kind of classroom environment are they in? A trial lets you see how a tool can function in different ways.’

Offering new tools to students, increasing their level of choice, helps make learning environments more accessible, Sarah concludes. So conducting a free trial seemed ideal.

Why Glean?

With a wide range of tech tools available on the market, Glean appealed to Sarah for the following reasons:

1. It’s by Sonocent

‘I’ve had positive experiences with Sonocent and so have students. The customer service is wonderful.’

2. It suits students

‘I like the simplicity of Glean, and I can see it working for students. I really think it speaks to something students are looking for when they are thinking of note taking’

3. It’s incredibly intuitive

‘It took me about 3 minutes to feel comfortable with it and that was just me as an individual user. Everything is really seamless.’

So how did the trial go?

Cornell’s experience

Sarah initially tested Glean by using it to take notes on a TED Talk. This gave her a feel for how the tool worked, and helped her create materials to show students when having her initial meetings with them.

This, coupled with ‘Glean’s comprehensive intro video’, was enough to create buy-in from students early on.

What made the most difference to Sarah as the trial progressed was the quality of ongoing communication with the Glean team.

‘I’ve been involved in projects before where I’ve given feedback and felt like I hit a brick wall, but I didn’t feel this with Glean. The suggestions I put forward, and some of the students put forward, have been listened to and incorporated.’

Shaping the software

This 2-way communication helped Sarah and her students get more value from the pilot, particularly as feedback was an integral part of the process. For Sarah, this illustrates why the Glean trial held so much value:

‘They have been very responsive to feedback. I noticed a glitch within a feature. Within 1 day it was resolved. I had some suggestions about the admin portal. Within a few days they had incorporated some of those suggestions, making it more user friendly.’

Trialling a tool in its infancy gives you more power over its direction. So Sarah and her students were instrumental in guiding us as we prepared Glean for launch.

But the tool itself also feeds into Sarah’s department’s ultimate objective – to deliver better experiences for students.

‘Trials give you an opportunity to increase your students’ options. New options means increasing the overall accessibility of what you’re able to offer. They definitely take time, but I think it’s time well spent. Not only did Glean allow me to learn about new technology, and new software, but it allowed me to think critically about my own practices.’

The trial was undoubtedly a useful learning experience for Sarah, but the capabilities of the tool itself were also felt, particularly by students that found other options too complex.

‘During the intake of this semester I had a student who I had only interacted with briefly in the Spring. I mentioned this to the student; they were interested and they actually brought it up themselves. That student specifically asked for something simpler, and Glean met that student’s needs.’


Written by Luke Garbutt

Author Bio


Get Glean for FREE

To help you support your students with note taking during this time, you can trial Glean for free. To learn more and sign up, click the link below!

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Time for a simpler, smarter note taking accommodation?

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