Filling the need for a new kind of court reporting school

E-T The New York State Court Reporters Association
Realtime Center For Learning, Inc.

Since the mid-nineties, I have read many articles in the JCR and attended NCRA conventions where the same questions were being raised without any concrete solutions being implemented.  One question was:  How do we fill the need for realtime court reporters to meet the increased demand from attorneys wanting interactive access to the testimony, rough ASCII disks and immediate delivery?  That need was not being met by the current graduating students from schools teaching court reporting.  In fact, what we were witnessing was the closing of schools in many states throughout the country at a time when the demand for this profession was at an all-time high.

Another question that I found to be very thought-provoking was:  How do we meet the 1996 Telecommunications Act that mandates that all live television broadcasts be closed captioned by January 1, 2006?  There was also the need for CART providers for deaf and hard-of-hearing students.  An NCRA survey that I read pointed out the high drop-out rate of enrolled students in both online courses and commuting schools.  I knew it was necessary for some drastic changes to occur in how we approached training people to be realtime court reporters.

It was then I began the long process of opening a court reporting school.  I incorporated Realtime Center For Learning, Inc. in June of 2000.  In the two years I spent researching realtime theories, I found some to be so stroke-intensive, it was hard for the students to reach graduation speed.  At a convention I had attended in 2002 I found out about Phoenix Theory and it seemed to have all the necessary elements for realtime court reporting, closed captioning and CART that I was looking for.  The dictionary had 140,000 entries enabling the student to write in realtime from Theory.  That really appealed to me.  After reviewing the NCRA survey, I then decided to blend both online course work and home study with in-house classes for accountability and live dictation.  It took another two years to develop the curriculum and fulfill all the requirements of the New York State licensing application.   The application and curriculum were submitted on May 13, 2004.

I came to realize if change was really to take effect in this profession, only qualified students should be accepted into the program.  As a result, we needed to have entrance exams that each prospect would have to pass.  We needed to determine the student’s ability to learn the court reporting theory, what their language skills were, and did they possess the necessary personality traits and self discipline to be proficient and professional as a realtime writer.  There were many brainstorming meetings with other court reporting professionals over the next several months.  We devised a three-part interview process:  1. Language Arts skills; 2. Keyboarding speed requirements and 3. a Face-to-Face interview with specific questions designed to pin-point characteristics which are fundamental to successful court reporters.  Realtime Center’s face-to-face interview process was designed with the help of an industrial psychologist.

The Realtime Center For Learning, Inc. was finally open for business on April 14, 2006 when the New York State Education Department’s Bureau of Proprietary School Supervision provided its approval of the school’s application. Wholly owned and operated by Harriet M. Brenner and Ellen P. Birch, the school combines a multi-media learning experience with online resources and one weekly class for live instruction and dictation. Classes feature realtime technology utilizing Stenograph machines, laptop computers and software that instantaneously translates the court reporter’s stenographic notes into the written word onscreen. This technology is widely used in court reporting, closed captioning and CART, which provides realtime translation services for the deaf and hard of hearing.

The “Nuts and Bolts” of The Realtime Center For Learning

The Realtime Center For Learning teaches with an innovative new methodology in education:  A combination of a structured home study program and one in-class accountability per week, along with a carefully crafted sequence of education designed to produce optimum results in the shortest timeframe possible. Instructors act as teachers, coaches, and mentors in the educational process, ensuring that each student has the information, support and tools necessary for success in their program of study.

The Realtime Center For Learning allows students to meet their goals in accordance with individual learning styles.

This is what sets Realtime Center For Learning, Inc. apart from others in the field – a training program that allows flexibility in skill acquisition. When students are learning fast, there’s nothing in the program to hold them back. For those who need more time to assimilate an idea or skill, the program has flexibility built in for that.

Classes at The Realtime Center For Learning are conducted primarily via a structured educational program, utilizing several methods of home study recorded dictations and lesson CDs.

Students have access to their instructors throughout the week via telephone, email, and discussion boards. Once a week, classes are held in the Center’s Garden City, New York classroom, giving students opportunities for live interaction and dictation. This combination of “learn at your convenience at home” with the accountability of the once-a-week class gives students greater flexibility in meeting their educational goals.

Although there is flexibility in the program, a high level of participation and commitment are fundamental requirements. This adaptability allows for ample time to work with the materials and build skills, but should not be viewed as a way to fit the program into an already overburdened schedule.

At this time Realtime Center For Learning, Inc. is a participating NCRA school.

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