Otter is a live transcription and captioning tool used by UCSF academic faculty to provide live transcription during Zoom sessions. UCSF does not provide Otter licenses to students, however students can use the free version of Otter to view their instructor's shared transcripts and more. Students can follow a transcript of meetings in real time, which can help improve knowledge retention and understanding of conversations when Zooming from a noisy environment, and provide aide to students with disabilities and ESL students. In this article we will demonstrate how students can use Otter to improve the learning process.
Using Otter during lecture
When your instructor has Otter enabled within Zoom, you will see a “Live on Otter.ai” icon in the top left corner of the screen. Clicking the Live button and selecting View Stream on Otter.ai will open a new window displaying the live transcript from the Otter website.
You and other meeting participants can resize the Otter transcription and Zoom meeting windows to position them side-by-side.
In addition to viewing the transcript, you can copy words or sentences into your personal notes, or request access to review the transcript after the Zoom session has ended.
Once the meeting ends, you will no longer be able to view the transcript unless your instructor chooses to share it with you. A popup message will appear on the screen stating that the Live event has ended.
Instructors may also choose to upload transcripts as a document to the CLE after the Zoom session is over, or create closed captions for recorded Zoom sessions and video files.
Students without Otter accounts: Students, and all Zoom meeting participants, can view the live transcript without an Otter account. It is not necessary for students to create an Otter account.
Students with Otter accounts: Students can choose to sign up for a free, "Basic" Otter account on the Otter website. This will not change the experience when participating in an Otter-enabled Zoom session hosted by an instructor, but it does provide access to free tools for dictating audio.
Instructors with licensed Otter accounts: Otter licenses, or "Business" accounts, are paid accounts that are reserved for academic faculty and support staff, and include integration with Zoom. This integration allows instructors to host remote teaching sessions with live transcription. Instructors can also edit and share transcripts after the Zoom sessions is over.
As a student, you will be primarily viewing live transcriptions when attending a remote teaching session over Zoom. Instructors with Otter licenses will provide access to live transcriptions for their online sessions. However, you can also create a Basic Otter account to record and transcribe your own audio, such as dictating notes or transcribing audio interviews.
Dictation on the Otter website
- To begin, access the Otter website and create a Basic account.
- Log in to your Otter account and click the Record button on the homepage. This will start the audio recording and transcription process.
- Once you’re done, press the Stop button at the bottom to save the transcript to the My Conversations tab.
- If necessary, click the Edit button to edit the transcript.
- To export the completed transcript as a file, click more options button (looks like three dots) and choose Export text or Export audio.
- To share a link to the transcript with others, click the share button, and then type their email addresses or copy the link for sharing later.
Dictation with the Otter mobile app
Otter also provides a mobile app, called Otter Voice Meeting Notes, which can be used to record and transcribe audio on your smartphone. Simply download the app from App Store or Google Play, log in with your Basic account credentials, and begin recording!
Basic account limitations
Basic (free) accounts are not affiliated with UCSF, and the features available to Basic account holders are decided independently of UCSF and are subject to change without notice. Do not upload or transcribe private information when using a Basic account. Current limitations include (a) 600 minutes per month of recording and dictation (b) 45 minutes per session and (c) three file uploads. Zoom integration is not available for Basic account holders. Please contact your instructor if you have questions about gaining access to Otter licenses.
Please review the following notes about privacy, and speak with your instructor if you have any questions:
- Otter is only approved for P1 and P2 data usage.
- Students using free Otter accounts should not upload or transcribe private information of any kind.
- When Otter is enabled in a Zoom session, conversations are saved to the meeting host's Otter account as both text and voice recordings.
- Your instructor, and anyone the transcript is shared with, will have access to the recorded conversations.
- Participants who leave a meeting can still view the transcript until the meeting has been ended by the host.
For more information, please refer to the privacy tab on the Overview help article.