It’s been a while since I’ve written on this blog but since it’s June I thought I would reboot it. Right now Iâ€™m speaking using Dragon NaturallySpeaking.
(No wait, I think itâ€™s called Nuance Dragon Professional Individual.Â I donâ€™t really get it. I thinkÂ it used to be called Dragon NaturallySpeaking, but now theyâ€™re just going with things like Dragon 13 premium. The professional version might actually be Dragon NaturallySpeaking 14 but I donâ€™t know…)
So now that were heading into summer, I thought I would play more with voice recognition software.
A long time ago when I started teaching the only real voice-recognition software was Dragon. But now there are a lot of free options including Google Read and Write, and heck you can even talk directly into Google Docs. So I started to wonder how good these options are and maybe Iâ€™ll do a little testing over the next few weeks.
(Right now, Iâ€™m doing a little experiment. Iâ€™m recording the audio with audacity as I dictate into Microsoft Word using Dragon NaturallySpeaking. This is a paid premium voice-recognition software, but weâ€™ll see how it compares to other voice-recognition software over time. Dragon NaturallySpeaking lets you correct words and train it to recognize your voice so I figure in a few weeks after Iâ€™ve trained Dragon using this new brand-new profile Iâ€™ll play back the audio of this transcript and see if the transcription accuracy rate is any better.)
Why would a teacher want to play around with Dragon NaturallySpeaking?
Here are four reasons to think about:
1. Itâ€™s quicker to mark and provide feedback with online learning.
Right now, classrooms are exploring blended learning environments â€“ thatâ€™s where some of the learning happens in the physical classroom and some of the learning happens in an online digital space. Google classroom is a cool way that students can submit their work online and upload Google Docs.
You might find yourself making the same comments as feedback so one shortcut that you can do with Dragon professional is you can create standardized comments or phrases that you use over and over again so instead of copying and pasting over and over again you could simply say something like enter writing comment number one.
You could also do this with learning skills on report cards. You could say something like enter report card comment.
2. Speaking into your computer is faster than typing into your computer.
I have a friend, Bill. Heâ€™s a great guy, and Iâ€™ve seen him type. He uses two fingers and he uses the search and destroy method of typing: clickâ€¦ clickâ€¦ click. And heâ€™ll look at my emails and he’ll say how do you find the time to write so much and Iâ€™ll tell him that he doesnâ€™t really take me so long as I can type really quickly.
But this guy takes forever to write a paragraph so voice-recognition software might actually help him to write more information and provide more descriptive feedback in an email.
If typing is painful for you, then this is something you might want to consider.
3. If youâ€™re dyslexic or you have a learning disability, hands-free typing may help you.
The neat thing about voice-recognition software is that you just talk and the computer types for you and then afterwards you just go through and double check your work to make sureÂ it’s spelt correctly or the way that you want it.
4. Itâ€™s easier to talk than type or write when your hand is in a cast.
It happens. Youâ€™re playing sports, you take a bad hit, next thing you know youâ€™re in a cast. At this point, most people would probably be at that two finger or one-handed typing approach but with voice recognition software, you simply click the mouse in the right spot and then you tell the computer what you want to type.
(In fact you can move your mouse and click on different parts of your computer without any hands at all, but thereâ€™s a little bit of a learning curve to learn to the voice commands to control the computer with justÂ your voice.)
Yes, itâ€™s a little bit geeky. Yes, it takes a little bit of time to get used to it. But as voice-recognition software technology gets better and more efficient, itâ€™ll be interesting to see how this changes the classroom.