What’s Going on in Ohio? Stark State & Clark State Adopt Digital into Its Court Reporting Program

There’s something going on in Ohio, and this time it’s not miniature golf, roller skating, or bowling. Julie Hardgrove, an associate professor at Stark State College, explains how Stark State joined forces with Clark State Community College—both Ohio-based institutions—combined forces to bring a digital reporting programs to their traditionally steno programs. This is now officially become a trend in Ohio, following last year’s introduction of a similar program at Cuyahoga Community College.


What’s the logic behind the adoption of the new digital reporting program at Stark State?

Hardgrove: “To give a little background about our current program, Stark State College and Clark State Community College have a ‘shared’ associate of applied business degree in judicial court reporting. We are one of the first colleges in the state of Ohio to offer a ‘shared’ program where students take courses concurrently at both colleges. The faculty continually research and modify the reporting program dependent on the needs of the profession, whether it be curriculum and/or technology.  We feel that the declining population of stenographic court reporters in parallel with the evolution of digital reporting technology is bringing a significant change to the reporting profession.  Because of this new digital recording technology, we added two new certificates—professional digital reporter and professional digital editor—to meet the growing shortage of stenographers along with the advancement and acceptance of non-stenograph technologies. We hope these new ‘adaptive’ measures in the judicial reporting program will help student enrollment to meet the needs of the profession.”

To what degree have court reporting firms encouraged the development of the programs?

Hardgrove: “We held focus groups and attended digital recording demonstrations to research and develop the Career Enhancement Certificate. Feedback from our focus groups helped us to develop the curriculum for the CEC certificates, provided information on employability and certification, and provided feedback on creating a ‘student experience’ before obtaining the certificates—employability, mentoring, and job shadowing.”

In what areas are there overlap between the curriculum you use for steno and digital?

Hardgrove: “There is not much overlap between the AAB and the CEC. The judicial court reporting program remains a two-year associate’s degree, while the CEC certificates (Professional Digital Reporter and Professional Digital Editor) are 16- and 17-credit hours obtained in one semester. There are four additional courses in both the PDR and PDE certificates that the JCR students, who are interested in the digital reporting CEC, must take to obtain both the degree/certificate. For retention of students in the JCR program who are not able to meet the graduation speeds, the certificates give them the opportunity of a skill set that can also be used in the reporting field.”

I see you have a digital reporting and a digital editing program. Can those be taken in parallel? What percentage of enrollees do you think will do both?

Hardgove: “Students can obtain both certificates but will not be able to do so in one semester.  The course load would be too much. However, by taking four additional courses from the other certificate the following semester, students can obtain two certificates in one year.”


What’s been the reaction to the new programs among potential students?

Hardgrove: “Because we just received ODHE approval several weeks ago, we are putting together a marketing program for this summer. Also, we will be advising our current and previous students of these new certificates.”

What resources have you accessed to develop the programs?

Hardgrove: “Stark State College will be seeking approval for both the Professional Digital Reporter and Professional Digital Editor certificates from AAERT. AAERT will perform a curriculum review of both certificates to validate that our curriculum meets their standards. Our Professional Digital Reporter certificate program will conform to the ‘Standards for Coursework in Court Reporting for AAERT-approved schools. Our Professional Digital Editor certificate will conform to AAERT’s ‘Standards for Coursework in Legal Transcription and Proofreading.’”