Dragon Dictation

January 25th, 2012

Dragon Dictation uses voice recognition software to produce a speech-text app for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. See http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/dragon-dictation/id341446764?mt=8. Note that an external microphone is required for use with iPod Touch.

Unlike the computer-based version of Dragon Naturally Speaking, the Dictation app doesn’t require training. As long as students don’t mumble or have major speech impairments they can use the application. It isn’t perfect, particularly with unusual vocabulary or if you speak quickly. For example, I asked the app to write “King Henry VIII began as a benevolent king. However, he became more crazy with age”. The app suggested that Henry VII was a benevolent pudding!

Getting beyond these silly errors (that can easily be changed using the keyboard) Dictation can be asked to add all sorts of punctuation including full stops, commas and paragraphs. The text can be saved to the device or emailed to a computer. Warning, it does produce funky formatting when viewed on a computer but nothing Select All, Format Paragraph won’t fix.

I find that I struggle to dictate a coherent letter or report with Dragon because I can’t keep all of my ideas and writing structure in mind while talking and worrying about punctuation. Students have the same dififuclty. However, if they use mind mapping software to plan their story and Dictation to add small amounts of text to their plan they find it easier to create a first draft of essays using the speech-to-txt app. They can then come back and edit in a more conventional way for their second and third drafts.

A negative is that Dragon requires an Internet connection. This is not a problem on 3G enabled devices but for iPod Touch, the device most students have access to, the ability to use the app depends upon having a wireless connection in the classroom – something sadly lacking in many schools.

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