Correction: A previous version of this article said that voluntary note takers would be eliminated, this is incorrect and voluntary note takers will only be unnecessary in classrooms that utilize Glean, but voluntary peer note takers will still be employed in other classrooms and when necessary. Elon News Network regrets this error.

While Baris Kesgin, political science and policy studies professor, understands the necessity of accessible class notes for students who need accommodations, he is concerned about the effectiveness of Disabilities Resources' new pilot program, Glean, a service that records and transcribes lectures, eliminating the need for volunteer note takers in classrooms that utilize Glean.

Kesgin, a native of Turkey, said he is worried Glean is not as reactive as Elon’s previous policy of only using peer note takers for students registered through disability resources. 

“I have an accent —, will it capture my accent accordingly? It will miss things here and there.” Kesgin said. “ I teach Middle East politics — will it capture every word that I say in Middle East politics because they are not English? Probably not.”

Kesgin said this is not only a concern for him, but any faculty member who has a different heritage, making any software recording and transcribing a class less helpful and potentially incorrect. 

This semester, Elon is testing Glean in select classes, allowing students registered with disability services to take notes in addition to the transcription.

Jennifer Platania, associate provost for academic affairs, wrote in an email to Elon News Network that there are currently over 130 faculty who have opted into the pilot program. Platania said based on results from the pilot program, Elon will assess whether to expand this program further. Out of Elon’s 15 peer institutes, two of them — Marquette University and Furman University — use Glean for note taking. 

Platania said that due to difficulties in finding peer note takers and inconsistencies in notes they were receiving, disability resources felt it needed to make a change. Platania also said it found Glean to be a program that helps students to have thoughtful notes, as students can annotate the transcript Glean provides and add materials next to the recorded lecture.

“It has been designed to teach students how to take their own notes effectively and, in turn, help them to improve their ability to learn and retain information, resulting in improved student outcomes,” Platania wrote. “Given this, we believe Glean can be an important new tool by which we are able to support our students.”

Kesgin also said he is worried about the message it sends that a class lecture and discussion can be replaced with a recording and transcription, and he expressed concerns that his specific class subjects and teaching methods will not necessarily work through a transcription.

In an email sent to faculty, Susan Wise, director of disability resources, said that Glean will be the primary mode of note taking through disability resources and students will be able to record classes.

“Students are required to sign a recording agreement with our office and are aware that posting and distribution of class information is considered an honor code violation,” Wise wrote in the email. “Technology use will be necessary because of these changes. It may be helpful to have a class discussion regarding the appropriate use of technology in your classroom with your students early in the semester.”

Kesgin, who has made the choice in his classes to not use technology, said he feels faculty should have been consulted before the decision was made. He has multiple concerns about using Glean, one of which is that his or other students’ words could be taken out of context. 

“As much as students [may] be reserved, faculty may be reserved because some of our topics are more sensitive than others,” Kesgin said. “And then societal context, removing a statement out of its broader context in the classroom, maybe also harmful.”

Robert Leib, a professor of philosophy, has similar concerns about classes being recorded. Leib said even though Glean is supposed to be a secure software, it still psychologically has an effect on students participating in class, knowing they are being recorded. 

“It's the teacher's job to make the classroom safe and comfortable and secure and educational, to have all kinds of different discussions, some of which are difficult to have,” Leib said.

Apart from less student participation, Leib said he didn’t think that a software that records class would work well with the way that he runs his classroom. Leib, whose classes are technology free and discussion-based, said an audio recording does not come close to the full in-person experience or notes that another student would take for someone else to use.

“There's just to be 30 some voices on, that may be quiet, may be on point, may be changing the subject,” Leib said. “I guess I would question how much value recording of the conversations from our class would have, that is over notes that someone would take.”