Since I teach language arts to students with learning disabilities, I’m always on the look-out for programs to help them show me what they know and help them get their ideas out. A couple months ago, I ran across the app Dragon Dictation and I’m going to be using it to dictate this entire blog.
The main reason I like this app is that it is very good for students who have a lot of ideas but have print difficulties, are slow typers, or their spelling is so off-the-charts that even spell-check doesn’t pick up on their mistakes.
One of my biggest successes with this program came last year at the end of the year. I had a student who would spend hours and hours and only get a couple lines out. The ideas that he had were good but he just could not express it on paper. We gave him a word processor and tried all kinds of things but none of them seemed to work. At the end of the year, I was at the end of my rope. I needed to try something different because even though this student had good ideas, if he wasn’t able to express them I wouldn’t be able to give him a passing grade in my class.
Around this time, our special needs classes went on a field trip to NorQuest College and visited the assistive technologies department. While we were there, the staff showed us Dragon Dictation. Willing to try just about anything, we went back to school and the student downloaded Dragon Dictation on his iPod.
When it came time to write the test, the rest of my class worked on word processors in the library but this particular student dictated his narrative writing in my classroom. He is a kinesthetic learner so he learns by moving. Because he had my classroom to himself, he just wandered around talking into his iPod. As I said before, this kid would work for hours and only have a couple lines written.
In only an hour, he had written a complete story. It was a little bit on the short side but it was complete. He uploaded it from his iPod, e-mailed it to himself and then put it into a Google Doc, which he used for editing. The results were incredible. Not only was this student able to achieve a passing grade in language arts for that year, but he had finally experienced success on a final exam. He felt good about himself!
I think, to me, that was the most rewarding part, here’s this student who, for the past eight years, had not experienced any success language arts and in one morning he had written an entire story, thanks to Dragon Dictation.
This app does require quite a bit of editing, but at least the words are there, spelled correctly, and the reader can get the general idea.
If you’re wondering what it’s like without editing this is it and I’m making a big effort to enunciate very well and make sure that each word is pronounced correct obviously a teenager is maybe not to take this amount of care in detail and here she may not know where to put various punctuation but I think that’s a good part part of it too is that as a teacher who is looking to see if students can use for conventions correctly you get a good idea I using this program by that they cannot
It’s not the be-all, end-all, but it’s definitely a starting point which some students need.
Before you get started in the classroom with this app, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- It does require quite a bit of editing, so if students are not able to edit very well that could cause some problems. This is also a benefit, as it allows teachers to assess a student’s editing and revision skills.
- The recording time is quite short maybe only 15-30 seconds, so if you are the kind of person likes to talk, talk, talk, you’re going to become a little impatient because it keeps stopping to process.
- If a person is mumbling, stutters, or has a cold or an accent, it makes it hard for the computer to know which are the lilts in speech and which are the actual words.
- When dictating, the speaker needs to leave a second or two delay between when they finish talking and the program realizes that they’re done, or part of what they’ve dictated will be left out.
- There’s no spell-check in this program because that assumption is that they’ve spelled everything correctly. There’s also no grammar check, so thankfully you can copy it to a word processor and do your editing there. However, Dragon Dictation updates its dictionary using the names in your contact list.
- You can also copy whatever you’ve dictated to your e-mail, Facebook, or Twitter.
- This app is available for the iPad, iPod, and iPhone, which limits accessibility for some. Also, some of the older model iPods don’t have microphones, so that can be a limitation, too.
This program is not very practical for someone who does not have print disabilities or hard time expressing themselves, but for the person who does, Dragon Dictation is a very good solution to getting their words out in a tangible way in a short amount of time.