Best Ways to Record Lectures – Devices, Apps and Policies

This article will discuss the best way to record lectures and compare recording devices and apps. We will also talk about the recording policies of a lecture.

One of the most challenging aspects of college is listening to a lecture, staying focused on taking notes, and ensuring you have the important information written down. If you struggle with learning content the first time after a lecture, you will want to record it to listen to it again.

Lecture capture is the process of recording classroom lectures. Lecture recording has been a way for students to go back and listen to the lecture to make sure they have adequate notes.  66% of students favor lecture capture because they can relisten to the lecture and review notes after class. There are multiple ways for students to record their professors.  Also, when the course takes place on Zoom, students can record the lectures from each class.

Best Devices to Record Lectures

As mentioned earlier, there are many ways to record lectures.  The different ways to create recordings can involve other devices. Before you record lectures, you need to know what equipment you need.  Students can use voice recorders and smartphone apps to accomplish this task.   They can also use their laptop or tablet.  While the device is recording the lectures, the students should take notes.

Best Voice Recorders to Record Lectures

Before smartphones became so popular, students used a voice recorder to record the lecture in the classroom. A voice recorder doesn’t have to be expensive; however, you want a high-quality recorder. You don’t want to set up a whole audio studio with equipment on your desk at school to record because you don’t want to disturb the learning environment.

After researching dozens of voice recorders, we have come up with a list of the top three recorders for recording lectures.  We based our opinion on recorders that had a built-in microphone, ease of use, and durability. None of these voice recorders will record video.

Sony Voice Recorder ICD-PX470

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The Sony Voice Recorder ICD-PX470 offers a built-in microphone and a lapel microphone.  As for memory, this voice recorder has 4 GB of flash memory and a memory card expansion slot for a microSD card.  Files utilize the format of an MP3 or L-PCM. The battery life on this device is 55 hours for extended recording.   It does require two AAA batteries and has a track mark function to locate essential lectures.  There is no way to video lectures with this device.

We like this recorder because it is useful in many situations. The microphone does a great job of capturing distant and quiet sounds. If you have a class in a lecture hall, this is the recorder for you because it is the best on the list for distant sounds.  It is easy to use and highly rated.  Large buttons make it easy to record, pause, or playback recorded audio.

Philips DPM 6000

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Although the Philips DPM 6000 costs quite more than the Sony recorder, it is superior in its high-quality audio recording. With two microphones recording all the time, you get excellent stereo audio recordings.  This device is a fantastic piece of equipment made from stainless steel for durability and includes pushbuttons for convenience.   Philips installed its Speech Exec workflow software, which aids in data management. The recording files are in DSS and MP3 formats.

We like this gadget because it is easy to connect to your laptop or PC using the USB port. With 4GB of memory and up to 27 hours of battery life, you can record every word your college professor says. It has excellent ergonomics and is useful for any purpose, but it is especially helpful for recording lectures.   The audio is superb when using this Phillips gadget.

Olympus WS-853

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A happy medium when it comes to price, the Olympus WS-853 voice recorder is excellent for recording college lectures. It produces a high-quality MP3 audio file and has a carrying case for protection. You can charge the equipment with a USB direct connection, and it has 8GB of internal memory with a microSD slot. You can play the audio recording have 0.5x or up to 2.0x.

We think this is one of the best voice recorders because it has rechargeable batteries and doubles the other two devices’ memory. The sound is clear and easily understood.  There is no need to download software onto your computer to copy the files. It is easy to use and often goes on sale.

Best Apps to Record Lectures

If you do not want to purchase an additional piece of equipment to record a lecture, downloading an app onto your phone is good enough to get the job done, although audio may not be as clear as one of the gadgets above.  It can save time and money.

Apps have come a long way. Some apps are basic and easy to operate, while others offer a variety of features.  When searching for the best app for recording lectures, we based our opinion on its price and support.  We wanted an app that was free or inexpensive and supported by iOS and Android.

Otter Voice Notes

Otter Voice Notes offers a free subscription and a paid premium subscription. The free subscription gets you 600 minutes of audio monthly, while the premium gives you 6,000 minutes monthly.  The best feature of Otter is that it will transcript live recordings. It is like your personal AI-powered assistant.

With a new release, Otter 2.0, users can now collaborate and share notes and recordings. This app allows you to search, play, edit, and organize conversations from any device. This means the content your college professor lectured about is accessible as much as possible, no matter where you are. These features make Otter Voice Notes the best app for recording lectures.


Evernote has been a favorite voice recorder and notes program for a long time. Not only is Evernote an app, but it is also a computer software program.  The app allows you to open a note and start recording by hitting the microphone. The free plan allows users to record up to 25 MB per note. The premium plan will enable you to record 200MB per note. One reason Evernote isn’t the best app for lecture recording is that you can’t edit or share the recording.


We like Super Notes because of the organization’s possibilities. It is excellent for long-term audio recordings, and you can take notes in the app while the recording is taking place.  Not only can you use this app on your smartphone, but you can also use it on your laptop, computer, or tablet. The free version allows you to take a few notes but has full functionality.  However, we suggest purchasing the premium version so you can utilize it all school year and all college lectures.

Use Laptops and Tablets to Record Lectures

Laptops and tablets are great pieces of equipment for recording lectures. Using a microphone and a webcam, you can record a video of the lecture to watch later. If you are watching a lecture video online, you can use the screen record option on your tablet or smartphone to record the videos made by your professor.   Some of the apps listed above are web-based apps, which means you can access them on your laptop or tablet.

You might need additional hardware or use a free video recording software to create video or audio recordings. Laptops and tablets might not get the most incredible sound, so try it out beforehand.

How to Record a Classroom Lecture

Now that you have chosen a device for recording classroom lectures let’s look at the best way to record a classroom lecture.

Is Your Equipment Ready?

The first step you should take is to make sure your equipment is ready for recording. Make sure batteries have a full charge and your device’s storage is not full.  If your recording equipment runs on batteries, be sure to have extras. Even if your gadget has plenty of storage, have an extra microSD card just if the one you have is full.  If you are using your phone, make sure it is fully charged.

The Ideal Seat in the Classroom

Once your gear is ready to go, pick a place in the classroom that will give you the most fantastic sound. This place usually is upfront and maybe in the first row. Sit there even if you are uncomfortable.  If your professor uses a microphone and the classroom has speakers, you could sit near a speaker to get a quality recording.  Think about good lighting, too, if you are recording a video.

During and After the Lecture

Now that you have found the perfect seat for a quality recording, hit record once the lecture starts. Be sure the microphone points to the professor or speaker. This includes the microphone on your phone. It is essential to pay attention as the professor talks, even if you are recording.

This will help you learn the content and keep you focused. You will not be a distraction to your class, and it may even save you time in the end. As soon as your professor finishes, hit stop on the recorder and make sure you save the audio file.

After you leave the classroom and have time to listen to the recording again, transcribe the lecture recording. This will allow you to read the transcription and find information more quickly than listening to the lecture over and over.  It is a good idea to use an app that transcribes the audio for you, like Otter Voice Notes.

Once you create the transcription from your audio file, review it and your notes during the lecture at school to review the content and ace the test and class.

How Do You Record Video Lectures in Zoom?

One popular software piece college professors are using Zoom for online tutoring and classes. Zoom is a video call program.  Professors can pre-record video lectures in Zoom and play them for their students, but how do students record these?

Unless the professor allows the students to record the lecture through Zoom, there is no way to create a recording via Zoom. If you want to record a Zoom, you might want to get another piece of equipment and record the screen of the device Zoom is using.  The sound and video are not the greatest when using another tool to record another screen.

Previously Recorded Lectures

For years, many professors shared slides from slideshow presentations for students to use to study and take notes while they are in the classroom lecturing.  Now, some professors create video recordings of their lectures beforehand to help students. This may be as simple as doing a voice-over on the slides to a full video lecture using lecture capture software.

Why Do Professors Record Video Lectures?

Professors may record their video lectures before class so students do not have to take notes and can participate in class discussions while in the classroom. Another reason professors might record video lectures is that the class is an online class or because meeting in person isn’t possible.

Video Lecture Capture Software

Professors might use a lecture capture software to create quality videos to post to the college’s learning management system (LMS).  Many lecture capture software systems easily integrate with the college’s LMS. When professors use lecture capture software, they can improve their videos’ quality, making learning easier for you.

Using lecture capture software allows professors to record video presentations and manage their audio on his/her computer. The use of this software will help the professor make the lecture perfect.  Although they have lecture capture software, creating a video can be time-consuming.

Sharing Video Lectures with Students

These previously recorded videos are easy to access and do not need to be rerecorded by students to watch again because they are available on the learning management system.  If you want to have the videos on your computer, you need to see if you can download them or if your professor will send them to you directly.

Professors can use several ways to make video lectures available to students using web-based resources like Google Classroom, Blackboard, and even email.  This is good for students because they can access video lectures and slides anywhere, which will help them study the content efficiently.    Be certain to appreciate these extra resources from your professors.

Permission to Record

Lectures, slides, and transcripts of lectures fall under copyright laws as they are intellectual property. Hence, it is essential to ask permission before you record any lecture and share any of these resources.  Even if you get permission to record, you need to ask if it is acceptable to share these resources with classmates. These types of recordings include audio and video.

Many professors might not care if you record while others do. Some professors may not care if you make an audio recording but do care if you make videos or vice versa.  Students who record either audio or video may decrease their participation or allow the recording to distract them from the learning they need to accomplish.  The recording is a helpful tool, not a hindrance, that will enable you not to pay attention.

School Policies

School policies also may prevent you from recording lectures. The policy may state to ask permission before recording. Some policies may even prevent you from using specific devices like your phone or computer to record.  Some colleges only allow students with disabilities to create audio and video files. They must enter into an agreement stating the student will not share the files with anyone else unless approved by the lecturer.

The agreement might also say the student can not reproduce any lecture pieces for any purpose and must be destroyed at the end of the semester or when the student has completed the course.  It is always better to be safe than sorry, so ask before you create these resources.

A Final Word on Lecture Capture

Based on many years of experience, college professors use lecture capture and lecture capture software to record a lecture. Students who have access to this lecture learn more efficiently. If it is appropriate at the college they are attending, students utilize lecture capture to have more resources to review and study before a test. The top app to use for recording lectures is Otter Voice.

There are other apps and software available to take recordings and create lecture transcripts for studying.   Dictation software is also available for creating a resource for learning. Whether you are a professor or student, it has become common practice to utilize lecture capture.

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