The future of technology looks bright, and things are progressing quickly, but sometimes it isn’t moving fast enough for me. A friend once commented that she couldn’t wait to have a computer chip in her brain. She explained, “Imagine downloading a new language in your brain and being fluent in a matter of minutes.” To that extent it’s a bit scary (think Terminator scary), but I understand what she means. It’s when I think of everything I want to do in relationship to everything I need to do that I wish I had more technology to help. At these moments, I need to multitask.

It was today while I had a bad headache and couldn’t focus on the computer screen that I wished the essays would grade themselves or at the very least have them read to me so I could comment on them. This worked well when my mother was here this summer. It wasn’t student papers then, but it was an article I had to read for a class I was taking. My mother and I were driving to Manville for some family research (another story told on another blog), and I was stressed about getting everything done. She read the article to me and I had her highlight some thoughts and had her write notes in the margins. We even discussed the points, which really helped with the essay I had to write eventually.

With this experience in mind, I searched my computer and discovered the speech recognition software already available in Windows Vista. I have been wishing for a program to type what I say so I can compose while I’m cooking (another favorite pass time). Of course, it's been out there for years, but I'm just now figuring out the benefits of speech recognition and multitasking! Of course, it's not perfect and it won't discuss the issues with me, but it can read it to me and make changes at my request while my hands are busy doing something else (like chopping garlic at this moment). I will also have to spend some time editing the mistakes. Is multitasking worth it? I'm not sure. I'll let you know as soon as my pie comes out of the oven. If it tastes bad, then I was too distracted talking into the computer. Multitasking is good, but sometimes it can be a disaster.

Another downfall is that this does not seem to work with GradeMark. The program is not recognized, so at this point it won't help with my grading, but if you use the Track Changes feature in Word, you're in luck (this involves using the speech recognition and the narrator).

If you have Windows Vista, you already have this program. It's under "Accessories" - "Ease of Access" and "Speech Recognition." Narrator is there, too. Mac Speech is available for the Mac. Windows 7 has speech recognition as well. A quick YouTube search reveals several videos demonstrating it. I would hope it's improved in Windows 7, but that will have to wait for me. I have other priorities at the moment (like planning a wedding).

For now, I’m playing with it and will, perhaps, find a way to write my class notes while creating my culinary masterpieces! I hope that I can also blog more often--hands free. The next step is to figure out why it doesn't work with GradeMark. If I can make it work with GradeMark, and make grading essays more fun by using technology, then I’m going to do that. Using Turnitin with GradeMark already helps, but using speech recognition takes it a step further.

If you use speech recognition in teaching or grading, let me know. By the way, the pie was delicious!