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Educational Software Thread, Dragon naturally speaking in Technical; Hi Guys, Anybody using this sucessfully? Not so intrested in the technical side but more the actual use in schools. ...
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    Dragon naturally speaking

    Hi Guys,

    Anybody using this sucessfully?

    Not so intrested in the technical side but more the actual use in schools.

    My SEN Manager would like to have a chat with someone who has used this in schools.

    cheers

    Matt

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    I work as the technical pre-sales manager for Nuance, (the manufacturers of Dragon), in the UK.

    Why not email mark.green@nuance.com, who is Nuance UKs education director, and is familiar with the product and school's pricing, and should be able provide references from other schools.

    Regards

    Gary

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    Quote Originally Posted by quiggles View Post
    Why not email mark.green@nuance.com
    Better to answer questions here, then the relevant information is here for other people to see and find via search.

    I've tried to use speech recognition software at schools before, with mixed results. This was a few years ago, mind, so maybe you can update me a bit if things have moved on by now. We were working with SEN pupils, trying to set up speech recgonition so they could simply talk into a microphone instead of having to type - useful for pupils who couldn't type or maybe with dyslexia or similar. The software needed to be "trained" to recognise a particular voice (don't know if this is still the case). We found the voice training process to be rather long for a child and that the child needed a certain level of literacy in the first place to be able to read the example text. Voice also takes a fair bit of data (the settings file for a particular user was around 100MB, I seem to remember), which is a problem to deal with in a school where pupils move from workstation to workstation.

    How well does Dragon Naturally Speaking work over a network now? How does it store its data files, how big are they - does it still need voice training? Is there a proper network installer for the software - an MSI file we can distribute around via GPO? Is there a server based option that we can submit a sound file to and have it return text, so pupils could use any machine that had a microphone?

    How well does the software cope with laptop microphones these days? I know we had issues getting our software to work with laptops because laptop manufacturers generally skimp a bit on the quality of the microphone input. Does your software work with resonably priced microphones? If those are USB microphones, can those be installed easily on networked machines if restrictions are in place, or does the machine ask you to install a driver as an administrator user? Does your software work with sound files recorded from portable recording devices?

    Do you sell microphones or portable dictation devices? Have you tried your software on audio files from the TTS EasiSpeak? Any experience with your software on netbooks? Does your software only run on Windows?

    --
    David Hicks

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    Wow, so many questions! I shall try and answer them as best I can!

    “I've tried to use speech recognition software at schools before, with mixed results. This was a few years ago, mind, so maybe you can update me a bit if things have moved on by now.”
    Dragon NaturallySpeaking has improved massively over the 11 years or so of it’s life and the latest version of the product, version 10, came out last September, with an update recently released to patch a few minor bugs, and enable 64-bit compatibility with Microsoft Vista. The recognition capabilities of this product are absolutely outstanding. There were other speech recognition products available to consumers over the years such as ViaVoice, but these have now gone out of production.

    “We were working with SEN pupils, trying to set up speech recgonition so they could simply talk into a microphone instead of having to type - useful for pupils who couldn't type or maybe with dyslexia or similar. The software needed to be "trained" to recognise a particular voice (don't know if this is still the case).”

    All speech recognition software needs some degree of training, and of course so does the user. Although the current version of the product allows you to select a "no training" option, it is better to do some degree of training so that they product learns the subtleties of the voice. Dragon has to cope with the various ways that we say different words, (think of the differences in the way that a Northerner would say "book", or "grass" against a Southerner!). Also the person needs to have a consistent voice, so that the program has a reasonable voice pattern against which to match words. With children their voice seems to become more consistent between the ages of 8 and 10, but this is not an empirical statement as it really depends on the individual.

    “We found the voice training process to be rather long for a child and that the child needed a certain level of literacy in the first place to be able to read the example text.”

    The training required for the product these days is about 5 to 10 minutes, and of course requires that the child is able to read, unless of course a teacher is able to whisper the training text into their ear during the training process.

    “Voice also takes a fair bit of data (the settings file for a particular user was around 100MB, I seem to remember), which is a problem to deal with in a school where pupils move from workstation to workstation.

    How well does Dragon Naturally Speaking work over a network now? How does it store its data files, how big are they - does it still need voice training? Is there a proper network installer for the software - an MSI file we can distribute around via GPO? Is there a server based option that we can submit a sound file to and have it return text, so pupils could use any machine that had a microphone?”


    I would love to be able to give you a definitive statement on this, but it really depends on the version of the product that you are using. It also depends on the recommendations of the company that you are working with to install into a school setup. I really wouldn't recommend a school goes it alone with a product like Dragon NaturallySpeaking, simply because it is a program that benefits from the users being trained properly. At the end of this note I will add a list of companies that are familiar with working with schools of all types.

    “How well does the software cope with laptop microphones these days? I know we had issues getting our software to work with laptops because laptop manufacturers generally skimp a bit on the quality of the microphone input.”

    Speech recognition software necessarily requires a good quality microphone, and as you say the microphone supplied internally on a laptop just isn't up to the job. We would always recommend the use of USB microphones. Again, this is where working with a company that is familiar with this kind of environment would reap dividends for all users, because they can make appropriate suggestions.

    “Does your software work with sound files recorded from portable recording devices?”

    The preferred version of the product and above will work with .WAV,.MP3 and .WMA files of a single user’s voice, as long as a users profile has been trained previously.

    “Any experience with your software on netbooks?”

    I have it running on my Samsung NC10 netbook, and Dragon seems to run okay with some fairly minor restrictions,(which would possibly be overcome if I upgraded the memory to 2 GB).

    “Does your software only run on Windows?”

    yes Dragon NaturallySpeaking only works on Windows XP 32-bit, and also Windows Vista 32-bit and 64-bit, and we see no issues currently with Windows 7, (although this is not currently supported whilst the OS is in beta).

    If you require software for the Macintosh, then I would recommend MacSpeech. MacSpeech is not one of Nuance's products, but is based on the Dragon NaturallySpeaking speech recognition engine.

    I hope that this all helps?!

    Gary

    Companies that specialise in Dragon in educational environments: --
    Pugh Computers
    Citnexus
    Microlink
    Barry Bennett
    Iansyst

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    dhicks (26th August 2009)

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    We use it here, but it is installed locally and students need to use the same machine with their local profile if they want to carry on with their user settings. I must say that the answers given in the above post are accurate in my experience too. A decent microphone and peoples expectations are probably the biggest concern here as you can expect too much from the product.

    From what i've used it for the new version is a good step forward from the last one too. If you want any further details regarding how it is being used here(together with other software we use) or your SEN manager wants a quick chat feel free to PM me.

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    @pickman:

    Have tried it here as local installation on students laptop, but as has been answered it needs for the student to be able to read and as some of our SEN students cannot speak proper English let alone read it, makes it quite a hard task for the SEN teacher who tells me she is better off using other techniques which helps the students cope with speech and language barriers.

    She tells me speech to text also can make the student lazy and not want to learn through the normal techniques which can then have an effect later on in their life.

    Bit of a catch 22 situation really damned if you can and damned if you can't.

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    Quote Originally Posted by quiggles View Post
    How well does Dragon Naturally Speaking work over a network now? How does it store its data files, how big are they - does it still need voice training? Is there a proper network installer for the software - an MSI file we can distribute around via GPO? Is there a server based option that we can submit a sound file to and have it return text, so pupils could use any machine that had a microphone?”[/B]

    I would love to be able to give you a definitive statement on this, but it really depends on the version of the product that you are using. It also depends on the recommendations of the company that you are working with to install into a school setup. I really wouldn't recommend a school goes it alone with a product like Dragon NaturallySpeaking, simply because it is a program that benefits from the users being trained properly. At the end of this note I will add a list of companies that are familiar with working with schools of all types.

    Gary
    Gary, are you able to to provide me with instructions on how to get Professional 11.5 Enterprise Edition working on an RM CC4.3 network running Server 2008 R2 servers and Windows 7 Pro 32-bit workstations please? The school has purchased this themselves without appearing to take any advice! I have read the included PDF document, however the the package continually fails to install correctly.

    Thanks in advance!
    Last edited by MattGreaves; 28th November 2012 at 10:43 AM.

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