Elastacloud have been working with a large, top-50 ranked university on several projects that leverage and deliver increased use of digital, data science and cloud solutions within the university. Recently, they approached us with a problem: they had over 4000 hours of interview research per annum in audio format that, when possible, is manually transcribed into text. The information consisted of valuable project research, but the process of manual transcription is very costly, time consuming and not as secure as they would like.
To solve this problem, The Elastacloud team delivered a self-service web portal fully integrated with the university’s existing ecosystem to allow users from the University to simply drag, drop and submit multiple audio files for processing; the subsequent natural language transcripts being received in a few minutes. This allows much greater value to be realised from the data now in text format, for example search and analytics.
Additionally, the university's existing Microsoft-powered digital landscape tied in well with our Microsoft technology expertise. Therefore, we were able to help the University build a platform that combined seamlessly with their portal, security and user experience.
In the absence of a platform to transcribe audio data, universities often consult third party transcriptionists. The standard industry rate in the UK for hiring a transcriptionist is anywhere between £50-90 per hour. Whereas, the default rate for Azure cognitive services speech to text function, which we use to run the platform, is 75p per hour. We understood the potential for Universities to make significant monetary savings, and forego the time spent transcribing manually.
The project successfully established an intuitive platform that has reduced the Universities costs and improved speed, efficiency and security. Currently, the university use the service to transcribe research-based audio information internally but will aim to extend the service from researchers to a wider audience. Therefore, the next step for us is to look at the wider applications of this service…
Adopting a transcription service as a University brings a range of benefits not only for operational use, but potentially for staff and students throughout the University. With access to transcription services, students can undertake more varied and dynamic research outside the classroom such as interviews, where 1 to 1 conversation can be recorded, transcribed in minutes, and saved for later reference. It also makes reviewing and finding specific data significantly easier without missing key points.
For the faculty, it is important to realise that many of your students may already be using, or thinking about using, external applications and services to transcribe audio data. With a service built into their platforms, the university has ownership of this and can overlook student engagement with the service and the entire virtual learning environment.
In use, the lectures can be swiftly transcribed and posted online for students to review without missing out on key pieces of spoken information. It would also prove significantly beneficial to international students on the course who could use the transcribed copies of the lesson to study and review at their own pace.