Who needs WiFi Internet when there's Internal Linking?
Since its inception in 2011, TypeWell's Web Linking service has been a big success. Transcribers use Web Linking to transmit their typed text over the Internet to a student or other reader, who views the transcript in real time in a Web browser. The reader may be located in the same room as the transcriber, or they might be in a remote location in another state or country.
Because the transcript can be viewed on any device with a Web browser, many schools have started using Web Linking even for on-site transcribing services. The flexibility allows their students to use iPads or tablet devices in the classroom, rather than full-sized laptops.
But what happens if a classroom has a poor WiFi Internet signal? I asked TypeWell's co-founder and chief software architect, Steve Colwell.
Steve, what if a student can't connect to the Web Linking server?
"That's why we came up with this solution we call Internal Linking. There's a feature in Windows 7 and 8 called the 'virtual access point,' and we use that to make the transcriber's computer into a little Web server, so absolutely no Internet connection is necessary for the reader.
"The result is the consumer can always connect from anywhere in the same room, and it'll look just like he is connecting to the Web Linking server. As I say, the transcriber's computer has to use Windows 7 or 8."
What does this look like in practice?
"When students are in class, they can use any Internet-capable device and search the list of available wireless networks. They may see the school's campus network, and then one for the transcriber's computer. That's the one to click."
Does the student (reader) have to use a laptop to take advantage of Internal Linking?
"That's the cool thing. He or she can use a smartphone, tablet, e-reader, or a laptop, as long as it has a Web browser."
"The nice thing about V7 Premium is that because it has every linking method, the transcriber has a choice."
But doesn't that mean that anyone in the room could log on and see the transcription?
"Only if they have the password."
What about the ability for the student to "chat" or send a private message to the transcriber over Internal Linking?
"The student just clicks where it says 'chat,' which is always at the top of the screen, and he or she starts typing. Students use that chat feature all the time to send comments or questions back to the transcriber."
Steve, have you heard any feedback about internal linking from the people who are using it?
"We've had no complaints at all about Web Linking, and a very few about setting up Internal Linking. Our instructions walk you through it, but Internal Linking is not as simple to set up as Web Linking. However, once you get Internal Linking set up, then you never have to think about it."
How does the transcriber know whether to use Web or Internal Linking?
"Web Linking is the best choice for a lot of sites because it works on the campus network. If you have a campus WiFi, that's usually a powerful force. If that's the case it can actually be difficult to run your own network because you get 'shouted out' by the campus network."
"The time to use Internal Linking," says Steve, "is when the available campus Internet is weak or unavailable. The nice thing about TypeWell V7 Premium is that because it has every linking method, the transcriber has a choice. If the school network is bad, the transcriber can switch from Web Linking to Internal Linking. With Premium you can always make it work."
One last question, Steve. What are the drawbacks to TypeWell V7 linking?
"As I mentioned, Internal Linking can be a little tricky to set up the first time. For maximum ease of setup, Web Linking is the way to go. And for Web Linking you need a reliable connection to the Internet. So there are no drawbacks, really, but you do have to make choices appropriate to your site."