Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Using Google Doc's Voice Typing Tool

Recently I had a teacher come and ask me if I had a way of helping support a student that needed another method for getting his thoughts down on paper. I immediately thought of using Google's text to speech tool. I thought I’d do a little more research on it and discovered that it is an extremely easy tool to use, all you need is the microphone that is built into your device, or if you'd prefer something different, you can purchase an external microphone.

In order to use the Google voice typing tool, the first thing you need to do is choose the Tools menu from the Google Docs toolbar, and then choose Voice Typing from the dropdown menu. At this point, a black microphone will appear at the left side of your screen. When you're ready to start “typing” you just click on the microphone (which turns red), talk at a normal pace and volume, and what you say appears on the screen. It's so easy in fact that I typed this entire blog post using the text to speech function. (disclaimer - I had to edit the document to fix a couple of small errors, but for the most part, what I said is what showed up, most of the issues were caused by me pausing because I didn’t know what to say next.)

The only issue I've had using this program up to this point is that I find that I'm pausing a lot to try and figure out what I'm going to say next (poor planning on my part I suppose); I guess the path from my brain to my fingers works faster than the path from my brain to my mouth. The other thing you need to think about is how to insert punctuation into the document, and also how to go to a new line or create a new paragraph (when I said the last two words, it started a new paragraph so I had to go back and type the words), so I'm going to include a list of commands that will help you do this.

I found the following list on Google’s Type With Your Voice Tutorial.

“When you are speaking text in a document, there are several phrases you can use to add punctuation to your text:
  • "Period"
  • "Comma"
  • "Exclamation point"
  • "Question mark"
  • "New line"
  • "New paragraph"

Note: At the moment, this punctuation is only supported in German, English, Spanish, French, Italian, and Russian.”
The tutorial also has some helpful troubleshooting tips. All in all, at this point I don’t know how often I would use this for producing writing, unless it was something that I could speak quickly about and that didn’t require a lot of thought (maybe for jotting down quick thoughts), but this would be a GREAT tool for students who have trouble getting their thoughts down on paper, but who have no issue telling you the answer. Give the students some think time to formulate their thoughts and then have them speak into the microphone, voila - problem solved.
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