New enhanced Bluetooth headset seems to slow down Dragon Naturally Speaking 12

To be perfectly honest, it seems a little bit like magic. Dragon Naturally Speaking 12 seems to be working just fine right now with the new enhanced Bluetooth headset. (Whoops, I spoke too soon. Keep on reading.)

Last month, I was having a lot of problems trying to get my new Plantronics Calisto BT300 II enhanced Bluetooth headset to work with Dragon Naturally Speaking 12 Premium. It just wasn’t working.

  • I upgraded my user profile from Dragon Naturally Speaking 11 to Dragon Naturally Speaking 12.
  • I changed the source to that new “Enhanced Bluetooth” in Dragon 12 (instead of the regular “Bluetooth microphone”)

  • But, Dragon Naturally Speaking 12 just didn’t seem to work for me with the new Bluetooth headset. It seemed much slower when correcting mistakes.

When I started writing this post, it looked like everything was fine. But now that I’ve dictated a few paragraphs in Microsoft Word, it seems that Dragon Naturally Speaking 12 is getting slower and slower with the new headset.

I guess I do need to call technical support. Dragon Naturally Speaking 12 seems to work a lot better with my old Dragon 11 Bluetooth headset, which is a little disappointing. Making corrections is painfully slow. Right now.

Then again, a few minutes later, it seems to work just fine. For the last few minutes, I haven’t had any problems dictating using the new version of the Plantronics headset.

  • Maybe the issue is really me – maybe there are some background processes that are interfering with Dragon Naturally Speaking 12? (I’m running Windows 7 64-bit, on an i7 processor with 12 gigs of RAM.)
  • On the other hand, maybe it’s not me. I just spent the last two hours dictating a post using the exact same system, but my old Dragon 11 Bluetooth headset. No problems, and no slowdowns when correcting text.

There are two things I did differently after having a closer look at the Plantronics manual. Continue reading “New enhanced Bluetooth headset seems to slow down Dragon Naturally Speaking 12”

Google drive app makes the iPad an effective tool in the classroom

There are two big problems that I hear about using an iPad in the classroom (or anywhere else for that matter.) I’m talking about problems with using the iPad as a notetaking tool, as opposed to problems with deploying and managing a class set of iPads.

  1. It’s hard to create content on the iPad. The iPad is more for media consumption.
  2. How do I get my content off the iPad? There are so many notetaking apps on the iPad, I don’t know which one to choose. I don’t want to start with one app, and then a few months later find out that there’s a better app, and discover it’s hard to get my notes out of this app.

This month (September 2012), Google updated its free Google Drive app, so you can now create and edit Google documents using rich text formatting. This is a big deal, especially for schools that already use Google Apps for Education and provide their students with free Google Docs accounts.

Other iPad apps to access Google Docs

Before September 2012, editing Google Docs on the iPad was a problem. There are a few iPad apps that can connect with your Google Docs account, but I couldn’t find one that I liked.

  • For example, Office2 HD took forever to load my Google Docs directory (if you could load it at all.)
  • Good docs requires you to upload and download documents from your Google Docs account which adds an extra step.
  • The Google iPad app does have “docs” built-in to its applications, but it’s essentially just a web browser loading the mobile or desktop version of Google Docs. (I guess it’s one step up from mobile Safari on your iPad in that it saves your Google Docs account information so you don’t have to keep on entering your password.)

Mobile version of Google Docs on the iPad

For the longest time, you could only get the mobile version of Google Docs to work on the iPad.

  • The problem with the mobile version is that you only have plain text editing, which means that you can’t add bullets, bold, or other formatting.
  • Formatting does show up if the original document already had formatted text, but you can’t add new bullets or change the formatting from the mobile version.

Desktop version of Google Docs on the iPad

The problem with the desktop version of Google Docs on the iPad was that it really didn’t work in mobile Safari.

  • Although Google announced in December 2010 that the desktop version loaded on mobile Safari, the reality was that there were lots of little quirks and glitches that crashed the desktop version on the iPad.
  • The desktop version of Google Docs seems to work fine on the iPad now, but the new Google Drive app is a much more efficient and effective way to edit your Google Docs from an iPad. Here’s why:
    • The keyboard hides half of the screen when you’re viewing the desktop version in mobile safari on your iPad, and when you type, you have to manually flick the page up or down to see what you’re typing if your cursor goes below your keyboard. (The new Google Drive app automatically scrolls the screen  as you get to the end of the page.)
    • Also, the iPad AutoCorrect feature doesn’t work when you’re editing using the Google desktop version. (It works fine in the Google drive app.)
    • Finally, the shift button is frustrating on the desktop version in your web browser on the iPad because it really acts as caps lock. Once you capitalize a letter, it capitalizes everything you type until you hit the shift button again.

Editing Google documents using the Google Drive app on your iPad

Here are a few of the things that I like about the new Google Drive app. Continue reading “Google drive app makes the iPad an effective tool in the classroom”

Sending classroom website email newsletters: Google Sites (FeedBurner) versus WordPress

I had the opportunity to sit in on a Google Sites and Google apps for education workshop the other day as we gear up for the start of the new school year. There’s lots to like about a classroom website powered by Google sites:

  • Your teacher website is hosted by Google which means, chances are, it’ll be reliable and quick. (Sure the Google docs website lags every now and then, but if you’re running your own self hosted WordPress site on a shared hosting plan, there’s a reason why shared hosting plans only cost a few bucks per month. It has to do with how much resources you get allocated – there’s nothing worse than having a class of students trying to blog in complaining about how slow your site is.)
  • Google does multiuser collaboration really well. If you’re running Google apps for education, you have complete control over student user account management. You can set things up so your entire school domain, or just students in your class can view, or edit specific pages on your website. (You can now also set page level user permissions.) Google Sites are really wikis so students either have editing privileges, or they don’t. There’s no moderation of student content.
  • It’s easy to embed Google stuff onto your Google sites. Embedding a Google calendar or Google doc, or even Google analytics is pretty simple. No need for third-party plug-ins or embedding code.
  • Google site templates make it easy to create a pretty looking website. There are several education templates to choose from.

If you’re looking for simple way to get a classroom website up and running, Google Sites is definitely a strong option. Especially if all you want to do is set up a space online where you can tell students and parents about all the great things that you’re doing.

The one thing I find Google Sites is still lacking is an easy way for parents and students to be notified of when you make changes to your class website. Here’s the problem with sending out email updates from Google Sites, and here’s why I like WordPress for my class websites: Continue reading “Sending classroom website email newsletters: Google Sites (FeedBurner) versus WordPress”