Your new transcriber passed TypeWell training… now what?

In a previous blog post, we discussed how to recruit quality transcribers. Now, let’s look at how to retain your new transcriber and ensure they have the foundation necessary for success.

A new transcriber can have a great deal of anxiety about their first day of real-time transcribing. The TypeWell basic training does a thorough job of preparing them and it encourages them to think about a variety of real-life situations in the classroom and workplace. However, as any transcriber who has worked in professional settings can tell you, it can still be nerve-wracking! As the old adage says, “In theory, there’s no difference between theory and practice. But in practice, there is.” There are few ways to acclimate the new transcriber with the practicalities of the job that will ensure a smooth transition into the classroom.

One method we’ve had a lot of success with is team mentoring. This means having your new transcriber sit with a seasoned transcriber in a classroom and get hands-on experience. This method has many advantages. First, this alleviates the anxiety that new transcribers can have about the interactions that must occur between the transcriber and other people in the classroom. Having an experienced transcriber from which to take social and professional cues creates a context for their behavior that allows the newbie to focus on their transcribing skills and not on the people around them.

Another advantage to team mentoring is that it allows the new transcriber to have a backup in case they get flustered with speed or content of the course. Some speakers are simply faster, more articulate, or more… incomprehensible than others. Some course content is mindbogglingly arcane. When things get dicey, the new transcriber can pass their computer to the experienced transcriber and let the veteran handle it. They see firsthand how to handle the challenging content and feel a renewed confidence in the capacity of a professional transcriber to capture the meaning and feeling of spoken word.

Finally, a team mentoring experience can teach a green transcriber practical tips and tricks that make the job easier. There is a substantial amount of organization and strategy involved in transcribing that must be taught on the job. For example, where is it appropriate for the transcriber to sit? How should they set up their equipment relative to the classroom environment? How frequently should a word or phrase be said in order to warrant its own PAL entry? What types of actions can be turned into macros or scripts to further automate the job? How do you organize and edit your transcripts for later use? Experienced transcribers have entire systems for their job that extend beyond the actual transcribing of spoken word. A new transcriber, through team mentoring, gets a glimpse of some of the tools experienced transcribers use and can start thinking of ways to make their own work more efficient.

If a team mentoring experience is not possible due to timing, budget, or other issues, there are still ways for a coordinator to make a positive difference in the developmental stages of a transcriber’s career. A coordinator or mentor should introduce the new transcriber to the TypeWell user in a friendly way, which will create a lasting positive rapport. Also, since not all teachers are familiar with transcribers in the classroom and may have reservations about having their speech transcribed in real time, the coordinator should approach the teacher with the new transcriber. By talking to the teacher on the new transcriber’s behalf, the coordinator shows the new transcriber how to discuss the situation in a way that makes the teacher comfortable. Finally, a coordinator can help a transcriber set up their equipment for the first time and troubleshoot any issues that come up.

An occasional challenge with new transcribers is the time gap between their passing TypeWell’s Basic Skills Course and their first transcribing assignment. This happens when a transcriber finishes their basic training in between semesters and must wait several weeks before being able to put their skills to use. The time after their training is a critical period for the development of their skills. The coordinator should keep their transcriber practicing regularly during this time if possible. The transcriber can keep their skills honed by transcribing YouTube videos. David Attenborough nature documentaries are slow, articulate, and use enough interesting vocabulary and language to keep the transcriber engaged. They are long enough to simulate the length of a real class. This is not just busy work; this is the continued development of psychomotor skills that have not had time to become muscle memory.

While a coordinator or mentor can’t always be there physically with a new transcriber, it’s important to give guidance in their early stages. Hopefully this has given you some good ideas for how to get a new transcriber from training to classroom in one piece and give them the greatest chances of success.