The Story Of StarTran

We have the experience you need.

When I started teaching court reporting in the late ’70s at Santa Barbara Business College, it was an exciting time! Computer-aided transcription (CAT) was just coming into being. The idea that a computer would be able to read our stenographic notes and save us the drudgery of dictating for a typist was met with mixed reactions — relief, but also fear that one’s notes might not be accurate enough for a computer. 

As a theory teacher, I grasped immediately that computers had a problem too — no brain — and that in order to use them effectively we would have to make fundamental changes in the way we taught and learned steno theory. I wanted to give my students a relevant education. I wanted them to be ready to work in the new computerized world when they graduated.

My first court reporting department at Santa Barbara Business College
(four CSR’s pictured!)

Quite simply, StarTran Realtime Theory sprang from the dictum, “If you want something done right, do it yourself.” It wasn’t easy. It took many years, and I had lots of help from family, friends, CAT experts, court reporters, court reporting teachers and especially the many StarTran private, independent, and classroom students who gave feedback and suggestions along the way. Together we created StarTran Realtime Theory — and we have done it right! Serendipitously, the project was ready for market right at the time that the National Court Reporters Association began approving theories for realtime. StarTran Online was submitted and approved with no changes requested, only the suggestion to put more page numbers on the Table of Contents.

First private students at NCRA convention

Developing StarTran has enriched my life in so many ways. For one, I have earned the satisfaction of knowing that my goal of creating the fastest, most efficient court reporting theory possible and presenting it in a way that gives both students and teachers the best possible chance of succeeding has been realized.

Another major goal in developing StarTran Realtime Theory was to create an affordable way to learn court reporting. To me this meant that a self-motivated student should be able to go through my lessons, self-teach theory, and be ready for speedbuilding and academics with all the stops pulled out. And that is how it went for a number of years. Later I realized that I could reach so many more students eager to learn if I fleshed the theory package out a bit with personal video instruction, more application material, and testing and put it online.

In 2012 I heard that Marc Greenberg was looking into the idea of presenting theory in his Simply Steno program. Knowing the excellent reputation he and his speedbuilding program have, I immediately called him, and that was the beginning of StarTran Online. In 2017 StarTran Online was given the go-ahead to conduct business online from the Bureau of Private Post Secondary Education in California.

Hello Marlene! It is with equal excitement and sadness that I give to you my Lesson 40 final test.
You are a wonderful teacher and mentor and thank you for helping me in the first leg of this journey towards becoming a court reporter. I’m going to go back and do the speedbuilding challenges, then maybe take a celebratory week off, and then head into Marc’s Simply Steno program.

Corinne Delfosse

StarTran Online Graduate

Obviously I am happy to turn in the last test, but at the same time I am bit sad. I will miss the excitement of opening the next lesson to see what had in store for me. I really enjoyed every part of the course.
I already contacted Marc to start with the next phase, and I am sure there will be some hurdles to take. But you provided me with great tools to take on this challenge. So thank you again, and I most certainly will contact you if I have a small question about the theory, or to simply let you know where your theory has taken me.

Theo Tomassen

StarTran Online Graduate, Captioner in the Netherlands

StarTran at NCRA Teacher’s Workshop

Though the two programs ended up as two completely separate businesses, Marc volunteered his Simply Steno platform as the basis of StarTran Online and helped enormously in developing the website, keeping the project moving, and recruiting the first students. Since then many of the StarTran Online students have moved seamlessly from StarTran Online to Simply Steno speedbuilding and beyond — and have done it without ransoming their future to heavy student loans that burden so many new reporters and college graduates entering the work force today. And, bless him, Marc is still always available to StarTran Online for technical and professional support.

Taking attendance at Watterson College

Besides developing StarTran Realtime Theory and the StarTran Online program, my experience in court reporting includes graduating from court reporting school, teaching all reporting subjects including English and verbatim punctuation, coordinating two court reporting departments, proofreading for Superior Court reporters, scoping for several reporters, and achieving NCRA instructor certification. I use StarTran Realtime Theory myself in StarTran Transcription Service, keeping the StarTran CAT dictionary up-to-the-minute relevant. 

I would enjoy sharing my experience and, most of all, my theory with anyone who desires to learn the respected skill of realtime writing. I’m happy to answer any questions you have.

Marlene Struss – Creator of StarTran Realtime Court Reporting Theory

StarTran at NCRA Teacher’s Workshop

StarTran at high school Career Day

Thanks for the great communication and for providing me with references. I heard back from several and they had a very positive attitude about you and the program itself, so after that and also doing a lot of online research decided to take the plunge!

I am really enjoying (yes enjoying!) learning stenography. So far I really think your program is well put together and thorough and I’m glad I chose StarTran as an online steno school over several others I had researched.

I think writing short is efficient and just makes sense, and the theory so far has made that easy to understand. So I have no doubts that StarTran is an excellent theory!

Jeri Preston

StarTran Online Student

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