Speech Recognition

Universal Design for Learning, otherwise known as UDL, has become a major buzzword across the education system.  The core principles of the UDL framework include providing multiple means of engagement, representation, action & expression for students to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding. With more students and educators accessing technology now than ever, what better time to incorporate some of these strategies and resources into practice?

Speech recognition, also known as speech-to-text, is one example of a UDL support to promote multiple means of expression.  Speech recognition has long been built-into smartphones (Hey Siri) and is becoming increasingly more common with household devices such as smart speakers and voice-controlled products.  The technology has seen major improvements over the years and is now readily available to use in the classroom through Windows Dictation, a built-in feature on the Windows 10 operating system.  With a simple activation command, Windows key + H, the floating Dictation toolbar appears and provides speech-to-text capabilities into any open text field.  Not to be confused with the outdated Windows Speech Recognition software that has historically proven to be cumbersome and lack accuracy, Dictation uses internet-based features to provide fast and accurate transcription, even with compromised intelligibility.

Image of dictation toolbar active within Outlook email

Whether a student has a print disability or is just fatigued at the end of the day, speech-to-text proves to be an effective intervention strategy for all learners.  Even for educators this tool can come in handy to more efficiently draft assignments, craft emails, or prepare lesson plans.  Wondering where to start?  Try incorporating dictation as a teaching strategy!  When answering an example question on an assignment, use Windows H instead of handwriting or typing your response to show students how easy it is to use; this normalizes the tool as a quick an effective intervention, encouraging more students to give it a try.

Ready to learn more? Check out this quick video with an introduction to Dictation in Windows 10, or this guide on other platforms the dictation tool is available in.  Still trying to figure out the difference between Dictation Vs. Speech Recognition? this article provides examples and applications for each.

Have you tried using Dictation or encouraged your students to give it a try?  Share your stories below to support other students and educators as they explore the application of this tool in their practice.

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