by Paul Nisbet
on Fri Mar 10, 2017
Many learners with additional support needs struggle to write, spell and therefore to produce high quality written work. Feedback from teachers and learners, and our recent Talking in Exams Project, suggests that modern speech recognition software has considerable potential to help learners with writing and spelling to improve their writing.
Raising attainment in literacy is a key priority for the National Improvement Framework, the Scottish Attainment Challenge and Pupil Equity Funding and so speech recognition technology must be one of the tools we should be considering to support learners.
Learning to use speech recognition requires time and support - you can't just switch it on and expect a learner to produce elegant prose any more than you would expect someone to handwrite without instruction.
So we were excited to see that a new teaching manual - Dragon NaturallySpeaking Step by Step is now available from Crossbow Education (£17.95).
This training guide by Sharon Gest and Rachel Barnes is a 44 page booklet with 8 lessons designed to help young learners become independent writers. The authors say that the teacher will also learn how to use Dragon NaturallySpeaking alongside the student as they work through the booklet. Each of the 8 lessons should be achievable in 30 minutes.
We have not yet used it ourselves with any learners, but the content is fun and the step by step approach looks like it will help to teach Dragon skills in an helpful and systematic way. It's certainly a lot more accessible than the official Dragon NaturallySpeaking 13 Workbook which weighs in at a hefty and pretty dense 125 pages.
On a less positive note, it seems that the whole school site licence for Dragon NaturallySpeaking Professional is no longer available which means buying Dragon for more than a few learners could become more expensive. We are trying to clarify the new pricing structure with Nuance and we'll write a blog and update the web site once we know.
Of course, there are other speech recognition options other than Dragon and all of them are getting better and better -
What's more, these are all FREE.