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Getting Started

How good are the free speech to text systems?

The modern free speech-to-text tools are getting much better all the time, and it's definitely worth exploring how they work. Dictating with Microsoft Dictate, Google Voice or iOS Dictation is very simple - you just switch it on and talk. You typically just need to set it to your language and locale and off you go. 

Microsoft Dictate and Google Voice Typing do need an internet connection to work and if your connection is poor you might not get very good results.

Is it worth buying Dragon?

Maybe, it depends on what you want to do. We think Dragon is probably the most accurate system available; you don't need an internet connection; you can play back your dictation to check what you said when proof-reading; if you want to control the computer with your voice, Dragon Pro does that well. 

Getting Started with Speech Recognition

Speech Recognition is not magic and it requires skills across language, literacy and ICT. It is not for everyone and so you might like to use Bridgette Nicholson's Evaluation for Potential Use of Speech Recognition tool to consider whether it is right for your learner. If you think it is worth exploring, the best way to get started with speech recognition is to try it: choose a system and follow the tutorials and other guides listed in our pages on each system.

If you are going to use speech recognition on your computer, get a good microphone. We recommend a microphone with a USB connector such as the Andrea NC 181 USB. We've tried lots of mics over the years and we think this one is most reliable.

We strongly recommend using the procedure outlined in Speech Recognition as AT for Writing, by Daniel Cochrane and Kelly Key, which uses the following approach:

  1. Consider It! - Is SR an appropriate tool for the student and the learning tasks? Not every student can use SR, and you can't necessarily use it for every learning task.
  2. Try It! - SR is not magic. You must teach the student to use SR, and to compose and dictate.
  3. Assess It! - What does SR offer compared to handwriting, typing or other writing tools?
  4. Implement It! - If SR looks like it is a viable tool, how can it be introduced into class and at home?

Happy talking (to your computer and also to each other) !

An alternative perspective of speech recognition and the various systems available can be found on the Cloudwards web site.