Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Dragon Dictation

Dragon Dictation
By Nuance Communications
Available for Android and iOS mobile platforms
Press record speak, press stop moments later your dictation is typed before eyes, no training is required.   This was an app my students excitedly showed me four years ago recommended as a must have app.   I have to agree one of the best recommended apps and one I recommend to others students and academics alike.  However, over the last week I have asked my students to see if anyone is using the app currently.   None of them were aware of the app, I personally teach over 200 students.   Their understanding of Dragon Dictation has been colored by the desktop version which needs lengthy training.   So my students are now currently checking it out.    Feedback from one student who downloaded it before Easter 2013;
"I must say it is a good app to have when taking quick notes, possibly better for reminders, just something quick to use for small notes.  However, as I take a lot of notes and large notes this kind of app is not good, a Dictaphone would be better for me. So personally I think Dragon Dictation is a good app to have for a busy person just to make quick notes and reminders but when it comes to large notes it's not very good."

The app itself can be set to provide dictation for a wide variety of languages, but it does not cope very well with non-native less than fluent speakers of a language, the typed dictation consequently is a poor match to what was actually said.  However, native speakers of a language with or without an accent dragon dictate produces very accurate typed dictation.
As a dyslexic this has become a valuable tool, it is inevitable I can pronounce a word, but I cannot even begin to know how spell a word, the first three letters tend to elude me.   By far the quickest solution is to speak into Dragon Dictation, hey presto one written word I have been seeking ready to be cut and pasted into the written text.   However, Siri on iPhone  4S and 5 is as just as capable, particularly if you ask Siri how to spell a word or what a words means, Siri brings up a dictionary page of the word with the spelling and definition, so you can check you are using the right word and in context, very helpful for a dyslexic
For teaching purposes dragon dictate has enabled me to provide written feedback prepared as audio feedback on an assessment for students who are hard of hearing.   The app has enabled me to still express my feedback in usual audio format, but provide it in an accessible format as required by the disabled student as in accordance and in fulfillment of their learning contract.
However, it should be noted the app has its limitations as highlight by my student you can only record a few seconds of audio at a time to be transcribed.   Therefore the process of dictating a large paragraph of text is rather start, stop, start, but still it is an effective tool, but without all the hassle of training the tool in the first place.  
I have colleague who uses the app to quickly transcribe conference delegates’ handwritten conference questions, with quick cut and paste the text can be posted on the conference Wordpress site.   The whole process takes a faction of the time than typing on a mobile device.

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