Review: Dragon software a must have for students

Dusty Hamrick, Staff Writer
April 8, 2014

Technology today is amazing! Look at Stephen Hawking, completely disabled, and paralyzed, and yet a Professor of Mathematics and the greatest scientist of all time. Technology was his catalyst. How could he have conveyed his thoughts and amazing intelligence had it not been for technology?

Technology is not limited to the great minds of our generation. The ambitious students of today want to capture the key concepts of a class lecture, but often miss important details because their pen and paper can’t keep notes as quickly as the teacher is speaking. With a digital voice recorder and Nuances Dragon Dictate software, students can save time and put an end to cramped fingers, missed concepts, and hours of typing by hand.

Dragon is speech recognition software that is trained to recognize your voice with amazing accuracy.

The more you use it and train it the more accurate it becomes. I found that I had to do a few corrections in the beginning, but it does do better with time.

Unfortunately, Dragon software is not yet perfected to recognize multiple voices. However, research is underway to deliver real-time captioning and transcription of class lectures and other media.

Despite the fact that Dragon software is “speaker dependent” speech recognition that can learn only one voice, it can still be used as a transcription solution and time saver for students, instructors, journalists, freelance writers, researchers, and novel writers alike who need to get lecture, interview, meeting, or novel content in writing, with the use of a digital voice recorder.

Simply record whatever you plan to transcribe with Dragon (Premium edition or higher) and download the audio file to your PC or Mac (my personal favorite) and listen to the recording through your Dragon headset, activate your Dragon microphone and “re-speak” the recorded audio file as you hear it.

Dragon turns “your voice” into text as quickly as you can speak the words, and the words of other voices as “you” repeat them. This is called “parroting” or “voice writing.”

I use my Dragon software for writing assignments and to write emails.

Careful though, your emails can turn out quite lengthy.

I make a long commute to and from school, during this time I can work on my book through use of my digital voice recorder or a writing assignment then download the audio file when I have time.

Today, students with certain physical and/or learning disabilities, which represents 10-20 percent of all post-secondary students, higher learners with various disabilities face significant challenges if not barriers when it comes to capturing class notes.

Students can request a note taker for lectures. That’s awesome, but this is often an inefficient process, forces students to rely on others and reveals to the other students that they have a disability by having a note taker. Dragon Dictate may be the answer.

One solution is for instructors to use Dragon Dictate during their lectures; they can then have their lecture transcribed to text, instantly. This makes Dragon an excellent accessibility solution for schools and universities.

In my opinion all instructors who do any lecturing at all should at least record their lectures and be made available to students through Blackboard so that students can review/watch the lectures at a later date. To me, there is just so much readily available and easy to use technology not to make use of it for the benefit of all students.

As if all of this technology isn’t awesome enough, now Nuance offers Dragon Naturally Speaking (Premium Edition or above) customers a “free” Dragon Recorder app download for their iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch (4th gen) and now Dragon Dictate for Mac3, that allows dictation anytime, anywhere, capturing high-quality audio files. The app then wirelessly transfers the audio files from the mobile device to the users PC or Mac and produces an accurate written dictation of the audio file.

Although Dragon Dictate is a little costly, it has come down in price considerably as of late, and there is an educational discount so be sure to mention that you are using it for educational purposes. The home edition is now $59.99, from $99.99. Dragon Premium 12 is now $119.99, down from $199.99, and I had the painful pleasure of paying $179.99, down from $199.99 for Dragon Dictate for Mac, v4.

And I don’t regret it a bit!

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