So, What’s the Benefit of Using Speech-to-Text?
When most of us think about the skill of writing, we consider writing conventions such as punctuation, spelling, grammar, and other things that make writing consistent and easy to read. We think about sentence structure and paragraph formation. We think about organization. However, a piece of writing can have absolutely perfect writing convention and still be uninteresting, unimportant, lacking passion, and devoid of analysis or reflection.
Before technology was an option for putting words to print for people who struggled with writing convention, only those who were able to do both the convention and the creation became authors. While some may believe that is only just, the bigger picture is that many brilliant minds, amazing storytellers, and passionate visionaries were never able to put their ideas into print.
Speech-to-text has changed that reality for those who struggle to put words on paper. Today, doctors, lawyers, business men and women, and authors are using voice to text. After speech-to-text captures their stories, their ideas, or their message, proofreaders and copy editors turn their words into a respectable and publishable document.
By the Way, I’m Talking to You Right Now
As a matter of fact, the words you are reading at this very moment are being spoken into a software program called Dragon Naturally Speaking.
I no longer write the first draft of my books in the traditional manner. Nor do I type them in the initial stages of development. I speak my books and articles into Dragon Naturally Speaking to create the first draft.
I wrote my first book using the traditional means; I typed my thoughts. For me, it was time-intensive, grueling, and exhausting. I found that I often wrote less because the task was so exhausting. When I started to use speech-to-text, I was energized, focused on the messages that I wanted to convey, and able to easily access my research while ‘speaking’ the book. I never want to go back to the old way. Editing and rewriting is still grueling for me, but I get my thoughts out first and that makes a world of difference in my ability to express my ideas.
Why Can’t Students (or Adults) Use Speech-to-Text, or a Scribe (Wordsmith Author Consultants)
So, considering our students and those who struggle to get their ideas out, why can’t someone who hasn’t been assigned a scribe in their Individual Education Plan, or the permission to use speech-to-text and speak their initial writing?
I realize that the need to go from thought directly to paper may be required for your state test, so I’d never suggest that teachers do one without the other. I believe, however, that there are places where it would be beneficial, and appropriate, to allow students to get their thoughts out via speech.
Doing so frees up working memory to focus totally on the goal of the task rather than on grammar, spelling, and paragraph structure. Students speak their high-level thinking and then review the written document to focus on proofreading, editing and rewriting.
21st Century Skills
In this digital age, is it not only appropriate, but possibly necessary to teach students how to use these tools to maximize their literary potential.
With several dictation apps available today on most devices, one can write an email, send a text, search the web, or create a note with only their voice.
For example, on an Android or iPad device, instead of typing, tap the microphone icon on the keyboard and then say what you want to say while your device listens. Like a voiceover app, these apps are also a great tool to use for students with vision deficiencies.
Speech-to-Text can be Life Changing for People – Youth and Adults
I have students who are finally able to speak their email to communicate with people they care about, or speak the answers to questions on a test. This, to me, is one of the most amazing tools that can open up the world for so many students.
What do you think about Speech-to-Text?
Have you tried it with your students? Do you talk into your phone to respond to text messages or email? Do you talk to SIRI or Google Voice?
For more information about using technology to strengthen instruction, see Susan Fitzell’s book, Using iPads and Other Cutting Edge Technology to Strengthen Your Instruction.