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Friday, September 25, 2015

Because we can’t be Ferris Bueller all the time: Using speech to stay productive at school

In his own strange way, iconic movie character Ferris Bueller mastered the art of productivity, albeit outside of school. Instead of all his running around the city of Chicago on his “day off,” imagine how productive he could have been back in class with tools like speech recognition to complete his day full of missed assignments.

Nearly 30 (!) years ago, Ferris Bueller showed us how to make the most of playing hooky. Being engrossed in ways to make individuals more productive, we can’t help but tip our hats to his ability to cram tons of “work” in on his day off, from a trip to the Sears tower and swindling a fancy lunch to touring the Art Institute of Chicago and stealing the show at the Von Steuben Day Parade.

Ferris may not have put a premium on attending class, but as another school year kicks off, there are plenty of students focused on specific goals and aspirations for success. For these students, productivity, efficiency, and time management are all vital parts of the education equation.

Today, students have a considerable arsenal of technology, apps, and other tools at their disposal for completing schoolwork, including speech recognition. Much like professionals who utilize speech to complete time-consuming documentation and reporting requirements, students – particularly those in high school, college, and at the graduate school level – experience the same benefits when completing homework assignments, papers, study guides, essays, and theses.

All too often, writing assignments can seem daunting, when you’re staring at a blank page and a requirement of 1,000+ words. How do you begin? What should that first sentence say? What point(s) are you really trying to get across? As a graduate student myself, I can attest to the fact that the opening stages of any writing assignment are typically the most difficult.

Speech recognition actually proves to be a valuable tool at virtually any stage of the writing process. For those in the ideation stage, dictating thoughts can unleash creativity to help you get started finding a rhythm, so the words tend to flow much easier, ultimately allowing you to complete the full assignment much faster.

For students who have an idea of what they want to write, but can’t quite find the right words, simply “talking it out” removes those barriers of expression. How often do we quietly read certain sentences and passages out loud to ensure that they are articulated correctly? We speak to ensure that what we have written sounds natural. Using speech recognition, this practice can be applied to the entire assignment.

Editing with speech recognition is simple – by selecting individual words and whole sentences that need correction, you can make those final edits through the simple spoken word. Students not only complete the assignment, but they increase their productivity by simplifying the process from start to finish and saving time.

Beyond standard dictation, speech recognition offers students other benefits like accurate and fast transcription. So, with your teacher or professor’s permission you can record a lecture (make sure you place your recorder close to whomever is speaking for greater accuracy) and transcribe it in minutes. Why painstakingly search through your chicken-scratch notes when you can easily search through a full digital transcript of the lecture? This is a very useful tactic for things like test preparation and reference citations.

When you also factor in features like simple voice searches for research papers (e.g. “Search Wikipedia for the history of Chicago”) and transcribed text read-back, it becomes even clearer that speech recognition boasts a full package of productivity and time-saving benefits for students.

Living out Ferris Bueller moments is a fun prospect, but when it comes time to get down to work, using tools at their disposal – including speech recognition– that weren’t available just 10 or 15 years ago can help students stay productive, ease the burden of time-consuming writing assignments, and increase their knowledge across a wider spectrum of topics. And who knows, this may leave them time to have some fun (probably something a bit more tame than anything Ferris cooked up) on their days off

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