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Talking in Exams Project

Speech recognition has been around for many years, and many people have tried it without much success. It could be made to work, but often involved a lot of training, time and effort. Today though, computers are much more powerful, speech recognition software is much more accurate and reliable, and we believe it is now a viable option for many more learners.

There has been a lot of interest in speech recognition recently in Scotland, partly because the technology is now more common and better, and partly because of the introduction of the National Literacy assessment, where scribes cannot be used for assessment of writing, but technology, including speech recognition, can.

On 15th January 2015 we held a seminar, supported by SQA, where we discussed the use of speech recognition software in assessments and examinations. You can view a recording of the seminar on CALL's web site: scroll down to 'Speech Recognition in Practice'.

We heard very positive reports about speech recognition from practitioners in East Lothian, Scottish Borders and Stirling, and the participants on the day were keen to continue the conversation and try out speech recognition. So, we thought - how can CALL help?

The Talking in Exams Project was our response the plan is highlighted below.  We have now completed the  Talking in Exams Project report  - it makes for very interesting reading.  You can review our Key Findings on page 6.

Create guidance materials for getting started with speech recognition.

We have created these web pages on the CALL site, with general information covering the SR software and links to tutorials, videos and research. The web pages cover Dragon Naturally SpeakingWindows 7 Speech Recognition,  Siri on the iPad, Google Now and Google Voice Typing and we will add more for MacOS Dictation and WordQ+SpeakQ.

Build a community of practice where we can share what works and what doesn’t.

In June 2015 we ran some free Professional Learning sessions which were attended by staff from 28 schools and services. We learned how to use Dragon NaturallySpeaking 13 Pro, and considered how speech recognition could be introduced to learners. We first set up an online collaboration resource using Microsoft OneNote on Glow, but many colleagues have not been able to access this (for various reasons), and so we are going to try a different method. 

Provide Dragon licences to schools.

We have provided a Dragon NaturallySpeaking 13 licence and a high quality USB microphone to colleagues that attended the learning sessions. The software can be installed on one machine for trial by schools. We suggested staff use Daniel Cochrane and Kelly Key's Speech Recognition as AT for Writing booklet as a structure for teaching learners to use speech recognition.

Support schools to trial speech recognition software

In addition to the web pages and training sessions, we are visiting schools to support staff and find out how learners are using speech recognition. 

Gather and publish case studies / reports.

We hope that participating schools will share case studies or reports on their experiences and we will provide an outline format for schools to use to collect information about learners as they learn to use SR. The main question is whether SR is viable for implementation at the end of the trial. We will organise a seminar in early 2016 for staff and learners who have been involved in the project to share experiences and outcomes with the wider educational community. 

** Read the Talking in Exams Project report and review our Key Findings on page 6.