Dragon Dictation – iPhone App of the Week

July 27, 2010

Dragon Dictation – iPhone App of the Week

This is a regular feature of the blog looking at the various iPhone and iPad Apps available. Some of the apps will be useful for those involved in learning technologies, others will be useful in improving the way in which you work, whilst a few will be just plain fun! Some will be free, others will cost a little and one or two will be what some will think is quite expensive. Though called iPhone App of the Week, most of these apps will work on the iPod touch or the iPad, some will be iPad only apps.

This week’s App is Dragon Dictation

Dragon Dictation is an easy-to-use voice recognition application powered by Dragon® NaturallySpeaking® that allows you to easily speak and instantly see your text or email messages. In fact, it’s up to five (5) times faster than typing on the keyboard.

With Dragon Dictation you can also update your Facebook status, send notes and reminders to yourself, or Tweet to the world….all using your voice. So when you’re on-the-go, stop typing and start speaking – from short text messages to longer email messages, and anything in between.

Dragon Dictation currently supports both U.S. and U.K. English. Dragon Dictation will start supporting German language later this month, and will add support for French, Italian and Spanish languages later this year.


I’ve had this App for a while now, but it has only been recently made available in the UK iTunes Store.

The version I was using only (really) responded to US English, this recently released version now supports UK English, so I no longer need to use a “fake” American accent!

What I like about this App is that is very quickly and easily transcribes what you are saying. It does require an internet connection as the transcription happens in the “cloud”.

This is very much how many people see the future of computing and the internet.

Your own device is quite simple, but is always connected. All the hard work and computing is down in the cloud, on other more powerful computers elsewhere.

This has advantages in terms of speed, but of course the main disadvantage is you will need to be connected to use this. Fine if you have free wifi or a decent 3G connection, obviously less so if you live in rural areas or all the wifi you can find costs money! In those kind of user scenarios you will need to probably buy a package for a laptop that does the transcription on the laptop.

So what of the actual transcription, well lets transcribe that previous paragraph. All you do is click the red button and say what you want transcribed.

This has advantages in terms of speed and of course the main disadvantage is you will need to be connected to use this fine if you have free Wi-Fi or do some freaky connection obviously less so if you remember when areas or all the Wi-Fi you can find cost money in this kind of user scenarios literally buy a package from laptop does this transcription on the laptop

If you speak slower, you do actually get a better result.

This has advantages in terms of speed, but of course the main disadvantage is that you will need to be connected to use this. Fine if you have free Wi-Fi or a decent 3G connection, obviously less so if you live in rural areas or all the Wi-Fi you can find costs money! In those kind of user scenarios you will need to probably buy a package for a laptop that does the transcription on that the laptop.

I also “spoke” the punctuation. As you can see there are only one or two errors. I also did in this quite a quiet room, so less background noise, try doing this in a noisy classroom and I suspect the results would not be as good.

At this stage you can go in and edit any errors or add text you forgot to say!

There is also an iPad version, and as this is an Universal App you only need to download one App to have both versions, one for the iPad and one for the iPhone.

If you want to use this on an iPod touch, you will need an external microphone.

Getting the text off is quite easy, either send as an SMS, e-mail it or copy it so you can then paste into another application or website. You can also link the App to social networks so you can use it to post Twitter and Facebook updates if you wish to.

This is a very good App and works really well.

e-Learning Stuff Podcast #052: Universal Design for Learning

June 27, 2010

What is universal design for learning? Designing your learning so that it is accessible for everyone. In a nutshell, good teaching.

We also talk (at the end during the credits) about my Skype problems…

James Clay, Lisa Valentine, Lilian Soon and Ron Mitchell.

This is the fifty second e-Learning Stuff Podcast, Universal Design for Learning

Download the podcast in mp3 format: Universal Design for Learning

Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes


Photo source.


February 25, 2010

Even a simple Word document is more accessible than a printed/written handout. With an electronic document, the learner can very quickly change the typeface, the colours (background and font) , the size of the text, it can also used with a screen reader

Using learning technologies can improve accessibility to learning content for a wider group of learners. Understanding how to present resources to ensure that they are accessible is important for all staff.

Well worth looking at the JISC TechDis website.

The JISC TechDis Service aims to be the leading educational advisory service, working across the UK, in the fields of accessibility and inclusion.

Our mission is to support the education sector in achieving greater accessibility and inclusion by stimulating innovation and providing expert advice and guidance on disability and technology.

There are some nice case studies on the JISC RSC YH Excellence in Inclusivity site.

Welcome to the JISC RSC YH Excellence in inclusivity portal which has been developed to help promote best practice and share knowledge to support enhanced inclusivity. This portal provides a simple route to accessing a range of case studies which show how inclusivity has been enhanced through the use of appropriate technology.

m-Leaning, enabling accessibility

July 14, 2009

Back in April I delivered the morning keynote at the RSC Eastern Mobile Learning Event, Dave Foord provided the closing keynote. I have finally managed to find the time to edit, encode and upload the video to the blog.

Is mobile learning accessible?

July 2, 2009

Great video from TechDis.

Alistair McNaught of JISC TechDis discusses the benefits of mobile learning, and the resources available from JISC TechDis to help increase the accessibility of many mobile technologies.

e-Learning Stuff Podcast #008 – Forcing the windows open!

November 23, 2008

e-Learning Stuff Podcast #008 - Forcing the windows open!

This is the eighth e-Learning Stuff Podcast, Forcing the windows open!

Download the podcast in mp3 format: Forcing the windows open!

Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.

In this show, James is joined by Nick Jeans, Kev Hickey, Dave Foord and David Sugden.

In this the eighth episode of e-Learning Stuff they discuss the pros and cons of forcing links to open in new browser windows. In that discussion they cover accessibility, usability, links, legal implications, frames and then some…


Photo source.

“A bad workman always blames his tools”

November 17, 2008

A bad workman always blames his tools.


Over on Learning with ‘e’s Steve Wheeler is talking about VLEs. He says

OK, this is my opinion, but many VLEs are not fit for purpose, and masquerade as solutions for the management of online learning.

He continues…

I have not seen a single VLE system yet that works so transparently that students think more about their learning than they do about how to make the damn VLE work. Again, I don’t blame this on the users – it’s a management and design issue.

Though I wonder is it just a management and design issue?

I don’t disagree with him entirely, as many VLEs are badly designed and usability often leaves a lot to be desired. Functionality can often be complex to set up and use. However this is often the case with a lot of online tools and services.

So what’s the alternative?

Don’t compare VLEs with the way you want it to be compare it to not having a VLE.

Think of a VLE as a journey rather than a destination for online learning.

I look at the way our learners use the VLE to enhance and enrich their learning. Is it perfect? Of course not! Could it be better? Yes! Are they fit for purpose, well depends on who designs that purpose, but no they’re probably not. Are they getting there? Maybe!

However compared to the situation five years ago when we didn’t have a VLE, it has enhanced the learning experience of our learners.

Using a VLE does not preclude you using other web based tools, it can be the cayalyst. With RSS it is possible to use the VLE as a focus for other web based services.

The problem with VLEs is that often it is not just the VLE which is the problem.

The VLE is ONLY a tool.

Even with a blunt chisel it is possible to create a beautiful sculpture.

A bad workman always blames his tools

In teaching, you can create learning without a classroom, you can be outside on the grass, in a coffee shop. The environment is only one part of the experience; is it the most important part? I think not.

When learners and teachers complain about the VLE, are they genuine complaints about usability and functionality? Or are they just excuses for not using a tool as they don’t want to use it or learn how to use it.

If we just use VLEs as a repository of materials, why is that the fault of the VLE, isn’t that more of an indicator of how most people teach? Lectures with handouts are the physical manifestation of the virtual repository.

If web tools are so fantastic and so much better than VLEs, why isn’t everyone using them all the time?

The problem is that it is easy to focus on the problems with the tools we use and harder to focus on the problems with the people who need to use these tools.

Photo source.