Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon Portland Community College

Technology for notetaking

Access techs on our team are available to meet with students, and we offer workshops as well. There are loaner items, free apps, and more that can make a real difference. Much of this equipment can be borrowed directly from the library by current students with active library accounts.

  • Email access-tech-group@pcc.edu with questions
  • Individual and group training is available
Access Technology Loans

While general AT is available through the library on a first-come first-served basis, there are also more specialized loans of tools such as tablets and laptops that require approval and coordination through Disability Services. Most of the Loans through DS are meant to provide students with opportunities to try technology-based approaches that may be new. It is an opportunity to “try it before you buy it” but is not meant to provide students with ongoing personal home-based use of college-owned equipment. Please contact Disability Services if you have questions, suggestions, or are in need of training.

Recording Lectures

Reviewing material presented orally in class may be a vital study aid for some students. If a request is made, and approved by DS, the student should be permitted to audio record class lectures. Instructors may ask that a student sign a statement promising that recordings will only be used for their personal study and not shared. DS has such agreements and can customize language to address individual faculty concerns.

Note that in all cases, students are expected to be in attendance within courses that are being recorded. In other words, recording lectures is not to be used as a substitute for attending lectures, rather, it is meant to supplement the live participatory experience and give students the chance to review as appropriate for their learning needs.

Notetaking apps

Some students find that using apps on their mobile devices works best. One off the apps some students find helpful is  sonocent audio notetaker.


Livescribe is a notetaking system that, using a special pen and paper, simultaneously records audio and matches it to written notes in a generated “pencast.”

  • Transfer notes and recordings to a computer for playback and backup
  • Search for words within handwritten notes
  • Share notes and audio online
  • Save/print notes or extract audio for standalone use
  • Convert notes into interactive PDF
Initial pilot

In summer 2012, Disability Services began working with faculty to pilot a project in which accessibility aides use Livescribe pens to create multimedia notes, which were then shared with an entire class. The pilot took place in three math classes and one foreign language class.

Student feedback

At the end of the term, students were asked about:

  • Use of the multimedia notes
    • 86% of the students who responded had used the notes
  • Effectiveness of the notes compared to standard written notes
    • 90% of those found them effective
  • Feedback or comments
    • Lots of positive words and a few really good ideas that we will implement

Make a request

Learn about getting started with Disability Services and making accommodation requests on the accommodation process page.