Skip to content Skip to main navigation Report an accessibility issue

AI Expands the Volunteer Experience for Students with Disabilities

Artificial intelligence, or AI, is changing the landscape in many fields, including education. But one effect of increased technology is a more inclusive campus experience for students with disabilities.

Meeting Increased Demand Through AI

In the 2022–2023 academic year, Student Disability Services (SDS) saw a 21% increase in the number of newly registered students. Last year, in order to continue to meet student demand for services, SDS launched the use of Glean, an AI-driven, web-based note-taking platform. Glean not only empowers students in their courses but also teaches students how to take notes. In addition to SDS utilizing the peer note-taking model, this platform helps students learn and thrive on their own terms.

Peer notetakers are students enrolled at UT who are paid for their notes, either from classes they are already enrolled in or classes they attend in order to take notes for students registered with SDS who need accommodations. At UT, SDS boasts a 95% match rate for students who need note-taking accommodations and peer notetakers who can provide those notes. And while student needs are being met in this area, the demand is growing.

“A hybrid model of using student notetakers and Glean means we can reduce student turnover among notetakers and provide a greater level of support for students registered with our office,” says Tamara Griffin, notetaker coordinator for SDS.

After implementing Glean on campus in the fall of 2022, SDS experienced an 85% reduction in the number of classes that needed to be covered by a peer notetaker, which means a greater number of students can be supported. Currently, SDS has 320 Glean licenses, and students can use a single license for all of their courses.

Building Skill and Confidence in Students

“When some students arrive on campus, they’re still learning how to take notes,” says Griffin. “But note-taking is a lifelong skill students may need in their careers. When students are paired with a notetaker, they receive critical information from their courses, albeit from another student’s perspective.”

Through Glean, students can capture an audio recording of their class sessions and then organize information by topic. Students can flag what is important or what they need to review, flag tasks to follow up on, add slides or pictures, and play back the recording during study sessions. Students can also create entire study guides, organize their notes by course or by date, and highlight or revise entries.

Glean also eliminates a slight delay students may experience, as student notetakers have 48 hours to upload their notes. And, if a peer notetaker misses something in class, it’s lost. But with Glean, students can replay class sessions to identify key information.

Through the Glean platform, students can carry notes with them from semester to semester. This allows them to build on their knowledge, especially in later classes related to their major or course of study. Students have a greater measure of control over their learning experience, determining what they need and how they need it to be delivered. This experience also provides greater support to students with different learning abilities or preferred learning styles.

In a survey conducted by SDS in April of 2023, 67% of respondents said using Glean improved their ability to independently take notes.

“Overall, we want to create competent notetakers who are also independent learners,” says Griffin. “It creates confidence in our students when they have agency in their learning and are using a tool like Glean to identify for themselves what course content is important.”

Through Glean, students are developing the life skills of identifying important information, building clear and concise notes, and developing their study skills. They are learning and thriving on their own terms.