Australian Tertiary Education Network on Disability

Pathways15: When Peer Notes Fail to Meet the Grade: Using Note Taking Technology to Improve Student Outcomes

Lee Chambers, Sonocent and Jim Sprialis, Sprialis Consulting

Do peer notes truly provide equitable, helpful notes?

Can note taking technology do more to be a learning investment for students?

In 2020, we started asking these questions and more of international Disability Support Services professionals. Representing over 100 colleges, 43.4% offered peer notes as their primary note taking accommodation with 41.8% preferring AT. Regardless, more than 60% of all institutions wanted to reduce their reliance on peer note takers for the simple reason that:

“Students with disabilities need the opportunity to take notes independently and in a way that is most effective for their learning experience”

- Assistant Director of Disability Services, Washington DC

45.8% of over 200 individual respondents believed improving students’ ability to learn and study should be the main goal of an accommodation; but, in practice, the majority disagreed that peer notes achieved this. Accommodations should enable students to reach their full potential regardless of the challenges they face — increasing attainment and, ultimately, levelling retention and persistence.

This presentation will review how Australian and North American institutions have found success with Glean: our new note taking technology invested in the learning process.

Glean follows the principles of Universal Design for Learning to improve study skills and productivity by setting out to tackle the barriers in class that make learning harder regardless of your ability. Students reap the benefits, one success story showing an improvement in grades from a C- to A+.

As part of our overview we will hear from students and colleges using Glean and outline:

  • How Glean tackles the issues of passive learning, sustained concentration and time management;
  • How Glean has been designed to enable students to capture, review, organize and use information as part of a learning process;
  • How Glean overcomes the challenges to easy student adoption with ongoing support.


With nearly a decade’s worth of experience in the EdTech sector, Lee Chambers works at Sonocent to bring note-taking technology to students with disabilities. Lee provides training and support to students, needs assessors, trainers and disabilities practitioners on how to improve note-taking support and use technology effectively, including Audio Notetaker and Glean. Lee has a passion for technology and innovation, approaching every day with the attitude that there is always a better way to do something, whether that is by improving the quality of what we do or the efficiency in which we do it.

Jim Sprialis is an inclusive education and technology consultant and is a leading influence in the field of inclusion and technology. His consultancy and assistive technology training service is provided to schools, the tertiary sector, and workplaces. With a specialist knowledge base around disability and learning difficulties such as dyslexia, he is passionate about promoting inclusive technologies and universal design approaches. Jim is also the Australian Account Manager for Sonocent and works with Accessibility Advisers across Australian and New Zealand universities to implement Sonocent's note taking technologies.