Dragon Dictate


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My first foray into University studies was in the early 90’s. This was a time where bulletin boards were actually boards that hung in corridors with things pinned to them. There was no such thing as a laptop, computer rooms were places where one would go to sit at a desktop to type out an assignment. Lecture notes were photocopied and handed out, and ridiculously expensive text books were lugged from tutorial to tutorial.

When I returned to University this year I realised there was a whole new vocabulary to learn. I now borrow books from an elibrary and download my lectures via podcast. I read text books on my ipad after purchasing them from an online book store. I attend discussions in online forums and post answers for tutorial questions via blog. I’ve joined Facebook groups with fellow students and have talked in realtime via Skype with a classmate while she’s been in one country and I’ve been in another.

The world of study feels so much more flexible than it once was. So much can be done in the comfort of one’s home. The difference is my home has changed quite dramatically from the early 90’s. I now have children and being a parent while attempting to study provides its challenges. There have been many times that I’ve been preparing dinner for my children while my laptop lay dormant in the corner – and it’s during these times that a persistent idea has crossed my mind, if only I could just write the essay while I stood here peeling potatoes.

This is where Dragon Dictate comes in.

Last week I was sent a piece of software to download, software which promised the ability to dictate my words onto the page with accuracy and speed. With the reminder that talking is three times faster than typing I felt compelled to give it a try.

Dragon Dictate means that I no longer need my fingers to type. After dictating a few sentences the software was able to not only help me get my assignments on the page, but I could answer email, write notes, and put a blog post together. I know that voice recognition can be tricky, but the software was able to listen to my voice, take note of my inflections and build on my vocabulary. The more I used it, the smarter it became. I was able to read ebooks on my ipad while reciting sentences onto my laptop. The ability to think out loud and take whatever was in my head and put it straight onto the paper was addictive. My shopping list, reminders or prompts for the following day, and email were now something I did while doing something else.

The software appealed to all of the children for different reasons, but it was our third child who could see an end in sight with his constant struggle with handwriting. Often we’ve joked that his scrawl is the result of his brain working faster than his hands. Dragon Dictate meant that he could articulate his idea and get something decipherable into a document.

Do you have a student in your house? Can you see yourself using Dragon Dictate? Comment below and I’ll put you into the running to receive one of five free downloads.

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  1. His Queen 1 says

    My hubby has been using Dragon for years and even got it put in at the hospital where he works. It makes things much faster for Physicians to dictate their notes and orders. I’ve never tried it but have listened to him “teach” Dragon what he wants it to type based on his accent. It’s really cool especially for people who don’t type well. don’t put me in the running for the download since we already have the newest version here at our house. It will be a great thing for someone else who could really use it. My advice is don’t get frustrated when it struggles to understand your accent, it takes time and training.

    • I am still in awe of the fact that the more you use it the more it understands your accent.

      • His Queen 1 says

        when it misspells a word because it didn’t understand, you go back to the word and give it commands to spell that and then tell it what you mean. as you keep talking it starts to distinguish between “b” and “p” and other common letters that are often misunderstood when speaking. He has gotten really fast at his dictations but in the beginning it was slow and frustrating, constantly changing the words. Now he upgrades to the newest version every time it comes out and he doesn’t have to retrain it because it stored his info already. It really is a great product. You can use any headset with it and don’t need to buy their special expensive ones unless you want them.

  2. This software sounds great and may be really useful for vision impaired people like my husband. Will definitely check it out, thanks for the tip!

  3. mummymorphosis says

    This software sounds fantastic. My son has a disorder of written expression, I bet it would make school easier for him. Will check it out.

  4. This is exactly what I’ve been looking for! I have 5 kids (4 currently in school) and am attending online University classes myself. What a time saver!

  5. AdventuresinHomeEducating says

    This software sounds amazing! My husband is currently in school and every night get frustrated when he is typing his posts and papers because he keeps making the same mistakes while typing. Also, as a homeschooling family, I think it would be great for my child that loves to tell stories but hasn’t quite figured out how to spell, write or type yet. Thanks for the chance to win!

  6. Oh my Gawd – this would be a game changer for my husband. Poor bugger has taken on a much bigger role at work whilst still trying to do his old role and now they have booked him in to do a diploma! He is drowning in homework and it’s consuming him cos if he’s not doing it, he is thinking about doing it and the course is done during work hours also, so that’s more time he hasn’t got! He is getting further away from who he used to be and we actually fought about it the other day cos I wanted to let him know that I hope he wasn’t doing it all for our benefit, thinking it was helping us (I was trying to be supportive!) We just want him here and relaxed again…… and making dinners again would be nice – any software that can do that???

  7. I’ve just started working towards my masters degree, on top working full time and my 2 kids I’m looking for any and all timesavers! I think that this software would make drafting my forum posts and essays easier (i like your idea of making notes while peeling the veg! Must try that!)

  8. I’d love to try it out for interviews.

  9. That would come in soooo handy! This year I’ve started at the Open University and I’m definitely having a challenge finishing all my assignments whilst having two small kids and household to run. Not to mention it would be great to actually be working on my assignment whilst walking a hundred miles to put our youngest to sleep and she’s already used to me reciting my lessons so sure she won’t mind 🙂

  10. I used to have the PC version, and absolutely loved it. I would love to try out the new version for Mac,and avoid the crippling hours spent hunched over the keyboard, two finger typing..

  11. This would be so great for my husband that ends up staying up late to write his papers for school & squeezing in all the things you mentioned in between all the kids activities & life! Maybe he’d actually get to bed before midnight or 1am if he could dictate his papers. This sounds fantastic! 🙂

  12. This sounds amazing! I will have to look into it. And who knows, maybe that novel will finally get written now… 😉

  13. This would be awesome for my kidlet. She’s got an incredibly creative mind and lots to say, but with learning disabilities, she can’t capture it all on paper. I’m finding even math homework to be an issue, because she’s expected to solve the problem and THEN write about how she solved the problem.

  14. This sounds perfect for 2 of my 3 children that have dyslexia!

  15. Kristy, this might be a question for the company, but does the Home edition work on Macs, or only the Mac version (which is double the price – admittedly, it might still be value for money, but not sure why it would cost a lot more, unless it does more?). I am curious, as we are an all Mac household. I could definitely see myself using it (once I got over the self consciousness of talking to myself) and I can see my son loving this (his thoughts run so much faster than his handwriting!)

  16. KIRSTY, I mean – so sorry! (working with a Kristy – but still, silly mistake)

  17. Claire Sinclair says

    Hi Kirsty, this sounds like such a great idea! Like you I’m studying, and working full-time and have two children. Being able to get ideas down while multi-tasking would be such a life-saver when an assignment is due by midnight, dinner is needed by 6pm and no one is home from after-school activities until 5.30pm! Can it tune out back-ground noise? Our house is open-plan and gets rather echoey and noisy.

  18. Chris Gerakiteys says

    Oh my!! Now I’ve returned to studying too from those heady days of the early 90s, I’m agonising whether my handwriting is faster than my typing, do I remember more if I write it rather than type it, but I can’t search handwritten notes as well as I can typed notes, and all this agonising and questioning is going on while I simultaneously (ha! I wish) help solve three kids maths homework! It sounds like a brilliant idea. Good find!

  19. Love your Blog it has been so helpful on my first expat experience.
    I have a 13 year old boy who has always had difficulty with writing, spelling and reading. Last year we moved from Australia to Italy on our first expat adventure. My children attend the American school in Milan where my son started in grade 6. It was a really difficulty year with the amount of written work we spent hours together doing homing. The school councillor suggests we have him tested for both dyslexia and dysgraphia (a difficulty in getting thoughts on paper) I think dragon dictate is exactly what might help re build his confidence.

  20. This sounds amazing! I often compose things in my head and since I’m doing something else the thoughts are lost unless I stop what I’m doing to find a notebook or laptop. Wonder whether I could “write” blog posts that way?

  21. Oh my gosh! Could I dictate in Japanese? My spoken Japanese is so much bette than my written! Even if it can’t do Japanese, it would be fantastic for updating my Blog (in English) much more often. I often start to compose Blog posts in my head, but never get to the computer to write them down.

  22. Our son was born with a visual impairment. We learnt to deal with his difficulties, however, this year he was diagnosed with dyslexia. During one of our meetings with specialists, this software was mentioned. I wrote it down, but with all the new information we had to absorb, I forgot all about it till reading your blog. Plus, (as I must have found a hairdresser I liked & paid up school fees . . ) we had to pack up & move country again. Huge thank you for your reminder! We would dearly love to be one of the lucky 5.

  23. Linnea Maloney says

    The idea of more efficient multi-tasking sounds thrilling to me…. Also, sounds like perhaps a tool to help my third grade daughter who is quite talented at writing elaborate stories and plays, but gets caught up and frustrated with her spelling, which can sometimes lead to a hinderance of her ability to express herself. Definitely interested…

  24. Love the idea! I’d use it for emails and blog posts, and since I’m always in the kitchen testing recipes I’d use it to note down recipe adjustments too!

  25. Heidi Brenegan says

    My eight year old also has atrocious handwriting. Would love to be in the running if you haven’t chosen your winners yet.

  26. If this hasn’t ended yet, I think it would be great for my son with atrocious handwriting. And poor typing skills too, unfortunately. Sounds like a great program.

  27. Anxious waiter says

    Did you announce the five winners? I follow your blog & Facebook & not read anywhere. Thanks

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