How to convert a classroom lecture to text

Updated April 17, 2017

By using a microphone and laptop that runs speech recognition software, converting a lecture to text can be a cinch. It's just a matter of starting up the speech recognition software and pressing "Record." How accurately the text is translated is a different story. Some major revisions will be needed if you don't have the right tools--the latest speech recognition software and a high-quality microphone--or if you don't get a clear recording. But if you do, and are prepared to put some work into revisions, this can be a viable way to convert lectures into text.

Sit close to the speaker to ensure a good recording. Open your laptop and direct the microphone toward the speaker. Start up your voice recognition program: Dragon Naturally Speaking, Windows Speech recognition or MacSpeech Dictate (for Mac).

Start recording in Dragon Naturally Speaking by clicking the microphone icon on the top-left corner of the program. Click it again to stop recording.

Start recording in Windows Speech Recognition by saying "start listening" or clicking the microphone icon on the left side of the program. Say "stop listening" or click the microphone icon to stop recording.

Start recording in MacSpeech Dictate by clicking the microphone button in the Status window. Click again to stop recording.

Correct mistakes in Dragon Naturally Speaking by first selecting the incorrect word. If one of the suggested alternatives is correct, press the down-arrow key to highlight that selection and press "Enter." If there are no correct alternatives, just type or say the correct text.

Correct errors in Windows Speech Recognition by selecting the text and saying the correct word. A list of alternates will appear. Select the correct one and press "OK" or say "spell it," then spell out the word, letter by letter.

Correct mistakes in MacSpeech Dictate by selecting the word and either re-dictating it or manually typing the correct word.

Save the file in your word processing program.


Consider buying an array microphone or high-quality, noise cancelling USB microphone for better sound recording. When correcting text, it's easier to retype words manually than re-dictating.


In some cases, the speech recognition software will make mistakes so significant that you won't understand entire sentences. Be prepared to thoroughly edit your lectures. Though this software has improved a lot over the years, it's still far from perfect.

Things You'll Need

  • Laptop
  • Microphone
  • Speech recognition software
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About the Author

As a freelance writer and editor since 2006, Kiva Bottero's work has appeared in magazines such as "Healing Path," "Green Living" and "Synergy." He started Mindful Word online magazine to explore his love of mindfulness and engaged living. Bottero holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of Western Ontario and studied magazine publishing at Ryerson University.