Blogging with speech-to-text software

person using a computer to play a game

Assistive technology is one way that students with disabilities can mitigate their challenges in an education system. Often what is used as assistive technology was not created specifically for students with disabilities. Speech-to-text technology was originally created as a productivity tool commonly used by executives, lawyers, doctors, etc. The most common commercial product is Dragon Naturally Speaking. Dragon can also be used by people who have low vision or who are blind.

As voice recognition software improves, new applications are released. I am using a free online application that uses Google voice recognition technology to write this blog post for the nine by nine by twenty-five challenge. You can try it out for yourself as long as you have a microphone. I would recommend using a headset with a microphone for better accuracy.

Having used Dragon Naturally Speaking for several years and completed various training sessions to help Dragon understand my speech I am surprised that no training was required with this software. So far, it has missed only one word and my only other complaint is the extra space before the period and the lack of capitals on the first word of sentences that I will need to fix. I am an excellent typist. I can type over 80 words per minute but with Dragon or other speech-to-text technology I can produce content as fast as I can speak, and I can speak very fast.

Some students with learning disabilities will use speech-to-text technology to produce all their written work including papers and assignments. Other students will have the speech-to-text software running in the background but will only use it for words that they can pronounce but not spell. When a student with a learning disability has difficulty with spelling they’re often not able to express their thoughts and ideas fully and will rely on simpler language that they are confident they can spell. With technology like speech-to-text. they can more fully demonstrate their knowledge and understanding using more complex language and sentence structure. From the point of view of learning outcomes, if the goal is to produce a well-written document, it should not matter to the professor if this was created by typing or using software.

There’s some other interesting ways you can use speech-to-text technology in terms of productivity. For example, I can record my voice on a tape recorder or using the computer to create an MP3 file and later run that file through Dragon to create the text. I have also used this technology after creating videos for online learning. I take the video, strip out just the audio, and run that through Dragon. It creates a text document that I can then use as a transcript and convert into closed captioning to make my video more accessible.

When using text-to-speech technology, you do have to learn some techniques order to control the formatting. And you do need to be able to speak your ideas in full thoughts and sentences which can be a little awkward at first. I take on the persona of a newscaster and try to articulate my words well so that the technology will be more accurate. I also find using this technology has helped me with removing some of the speech fillers that often come up when articulating ideas outload. Because the technology will attempt to add any Umms or Hmmms that I may have in my speech, using this technology has been a good way to remove those. I also find that rather than speaking one word at a time if I can use more natural phrases, the technology more accurate in its transcription.

Assistive technology is not something to be afraid of. It can be an awesome support for students with disabilities, professionals in the workplace, and even time limited professors and educators. as the technology continues to improve, I believe we will find it integrated into more software and more applications and that learning to use the software will be an advantage students in their education and later, in the workplace.

Featured photo:Photo by Sean Do on Unsplash

WordPress Permalink: Domain Camp Week 6

Dog sitting in front of a camp fire on a beach

I am wandering back to the camp fire to check out the last two weeks of Domain Camp. I had originally set my permalink to be just the name of the post but I thought I would try adding the year and the month as well. My concern is that I already have a really long URL with the subdomain of largecoffeefourcreams and my domain of procaffination.ca. So adding the dates may be too much.

I don’t know what the conventional wisdom is about the length of your domain name, and I don’t care. This is my domain. And I will have a long name if I want to! So there! Ah, one of the joys of a domain of one’s own is that you get to make choices like that.

Just a note, in an earlier Domain Camp Activity, we learned to add a URL shortener names YOURLS to our domain that would create a smaller URL for any address and it would have our own domain name as part of the new URL. I can always use that if one of my post URL becomes too long to share on social media

Featured image: Photo by christoph wesi on Unsplash

Using Tech to Solve Tutors’ Confusion

Man sitting at desk working on a laptop

The Ontario Extend Technologist Module has been a thought-provoking adventure into considering what would be most helpful for my tutors. Let me walk you through my path.

First up, I defined digital literacy back in May, 2018:

So what does all this musing mean for me as a teacher in a digital world? This is the space I must occupy and I need to be both an explorer and a guide. I need to seek out, learn and understand new ways of expressing information and ideas in this digital medium while practicing creation, appreciation, and discernment.

Standing where I am now, the key for the Technologist Module has been “new ways of expressing information” in terms of the training of tutors which has been my focus for this exercise.

After a review of Design Thinking, next up was empathizing with my tutors by gaining feedback. This is the step that held me up from some time as I explored ways to gather this feedback. I spoke with my tutors over the spring semester and gathered some information about the training through a simple survey.

The training that tutors experience is in four parts:

  • Orientation – general overview of tutoring system, tutor responsibilities and forms.
  • Payroll & Health and Safety – hands on training in a custom PeopleSoft module and review of policies along with direction on completing mandatory H&S modules.
  • Tutoring Techniques – philosophy of tutoring at our college, techniques and practices of good tutoring, and review of roles within the tutoring team. This is followed by an opportunity for new tutors to shadow experienced tutors.
  • Ongoing meetings and leadership events.

The survey indicated that tutors, in general, were satisfied with the face-to-face training including the time spend on each section, but there were lingering questions or confusion that regularly occurred after the training was over. While there were some questions about policies and procedures that covered rare circumstances, most of the confusion was over payroll. This was confirmed by the number of issues that pop up during bi-weekly payroll and errors tutors made.

During the Spring Leadership Event, I conducted further investigate into tutors experiences and charted this in a Empathy Map.  This showed that Payroll was a definite pain point for tutors and this aspect became the narrow focus for the rest of my work with the Technologist Module.

The next step in the module was to add to the Learner Challenge Padlet and explore others’ contributions. I did gain some ideas about what could be possible as an alternate way to presenting payroll training beyond the face-to-face hands on model that we are currently using.

Then, I moved on to Ideate. Using The SECTIONS Model by Anthony William Bates, I worked through the questions and downloaded the document to Google Docs. It was working through this activity that I realized that the problem is the Ease of Use of our PeopleSoft Module. The technology we use for payroll is NOT user-friendly, easy to learn or intuitive. Given the linkages to other data about students and tutors that is needed for analysis and reporting, I can’t change that. Helping students deal with this unwieldly software is the problem I need to tackle.

I created a prototype on paper for my ideas and through that process, I found that some of my ideas, while cool, were not the right approach. For example, I have rejected the idea of creating gifs for the payroll appointment entry process as the process is just too complex for this method. I tested out prototyping with another process I was working earlier in the summer for work I was doing on a BlackBoard course for new students. These two activities led me back to BlackBoard and I ultimately decided that providing guides and information through a BlackBoard course was the way to go.

The Solution

Screenshot of Payroll Module

The Tutor Training BlackBoard course contains content areas that relate to the different parts of our training with a discussion board and weekly updates. A special feature is the links to Flipgrid, which we used very successfully in the Spring for Tutor Introductions.

The Payroll training section is still under development but will have Guides with step by step instructions and screenshots of the payroll program to help tutors understand how to enter the different types of tutoring that they do. It will include video walk throughs and Pro-Tips as reminders. At the moment, the Walk-in Tutoring Guide is available.

By having this available 24/7, tutors can learn to first try to solve a problem with their payroll with the guides while knowing that they can contact staff with questions or additional training as needed. The discussion area can be used for tutors to help each other with questions as well. I believe this will help tutors in the future to deal with other software that is similarly unfriendly.

Of interest to me and to our staff is tutors’ response. I uploaded the first sections on Friday, Sept 7th and released it at noon. By 5 pm, 80% of tutors had logged in. By Monday, 95% had logged in. I updated and added two articles this morning and 50% of tutors had logged in an hour later.

Over the next couple of weeks, I will continue to upload and refine the training documents and plan to continue with the weekly updates and announcements for new and timely information. I will also gather tutors’ feedback to ensure the course is meeting their needs.

Given the early reactions of tutors logging in and the kind comments tutors have made over the last few days in person, I am calling this one a success!

Feature image: Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Zen by PowerPoint

Close up of an ant carrying a leaf.

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I have a love/hate relationship with PowerPoint (PP). I see value in the medium but I struggle to find effective ways to use it. #Oext234 asks Ontario Extenders to consider PresentationZen and to pick one of the 11 recommendations to improve presentations. I am choosing (5) Remove the nonessential and adding photos instead of text. Please understand, this is an exercise for the Daily Extend. I am not suggesting that the new presentation is really much better than the old one but it is a start and this also gives me a change to explore more Creative Commons photos and a new tool.

Sometimes, I have used PP to act as a guide for me; a way of keeping me on track and reminding me of what comes next. I have basically turned them into great big visual presentation cue cards. Whenever I do this, it reminds me of my very first presentation competition in grade school on Carpenter Ants.

I used this approach when preparing to be filmed for an Orientation video based on a transition to college culture workshop that I have done in-class. In this case, the slides were not shown to the participants, they were only for me. Here is a short clip from my practice video where I created a voice over for the slides I had prepared. The final video, edited by St. Clair College’s Audio/Visual department, is at this end of this post.

Using Tall Tweets, I created a 15 second gif of my original slides:

CollegeWayOrignal

Using Unsplash, I added photos and then removed most of the text:

CollegeWayZen

This is the final video used now at Orientation:

 

Feature image: Photo by Vlad Tchompalov on Unsplash

Look Mom! I’m coding!

Modified Label on a Can

A million years ago, or 20 years ago that feels like a million, I quit my day job and joined a computer consulting company as an associate. I loved working with the principle partner, Rick, The more challenging the project, the calmer he became. I learned that you can’t think through thorny problems or multiple steps if you are pissed off.

Back then, you could still build and modify computers and if you didn’t know something, like html, you just taught yourself. At that time, I was quite the QuickBooks expert. I was beta testing and creating curriculum for Intuit Canada. I was teaching two levels of QuickBooks for St. Clair College through Continuing Education. So supporting our clients in adopting Quickbooks was my main role but I also repaired and modified computers, did a lot of printer troubleshooting and learned to code websites.

Funny that, you never actually forget the basics of code. I whipped out my coding skills this year to make BlackBoard do some things I wanted it to do including adding CSS to improve the visuals and layout. I had to adjust my old way of doing things to the new HTML 5 standards but that wasn’t as tough as it sounds.

So with the Daily Extend #221, I am excited. I clicked on the remix button in Thimble Projects and saw code! I can do this! And I did, if you would like to remix my project, it is available here: https://thimbleprojects.org/irenequstewart/511411

OER Remix Prototype – Academic Integrity

Overview of hands on a desk working on plan on paper.

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This is a prototype for a unit on Academic Integrity I am creating for my students and in response to both the Technologist Module for Ontario Extend and Day 12 of Making Sense of Open Education.

Here is my plan.

  • I want to adapt two excerpts from an OER textbook.
  • Add original video of my own.
  • Use CC licensed video and images from Unsplash.
  • Link to additional resources
  • Add self-test questions that I create.

Opening

Academic Integrity – The Honest Truth

View of lecture room with students listening.
Photo by John-Mark Smith on Unsplash

It is vital that students focus on the active process of learning, not just on how to get good grades. The attitude of some students that grades are the end-all in academics has led many students to resort to academic dishonesty to try to get the best possible grades or handle the pressure of an academic program. Although you may be further tempted if you’ve heard people say, “Everybody does it,” or “It’s no big deal at my school,” you should be mindful of the consequences of cheating:

  • You don’t learn as much. Cheating may get you the right answer on a particular exam question, but it won’t teach you how to apply knowledge in the world after school, nor will it give you a foundation of knowledge for learning more advanced material. When you cheat, you cheat yourself out of opportunities.
  • You risk failing the course or even expulsion from school. Each institution has its own definitions of and penalties for academic dishonesty, but most include cheating, plagiarism, and fabrication or falsification. The exact details of what is allowed or not allowed vary somewhat among different colleges and even instructors, so you should be sure to check your school’s Web site and your instructor’s guidelines to see what rules apply. Ignorance of the rules is seldom considered a valid defense.
  • Cheating causes stress. Fear of getting caught will cause you stress and anxiety; this will get in the way of performing well with the information you do know.
    You’re throwing away your money and time. Getting a college education is a big investment of money and effort. You’re simply not getting your full value when you cheat, because you don’t learn as much.
  • You are trashing your integrity. Cheating once and getting away with it makes it easier to cheat again, and the more you cheat, the more comfortable you will feel with giving up your integrity in other areas of life—with perhaps even more serious consequences.
  • Cheating lowers your self-esteem. If you cheat, you are telling yourself that you are simply not smart enough to handle learning. It also robs you of the feeling of satisfaction from genuine success.
Students gathered around a laptop
Photo by Štefan Štefančík on Unsplash

Technology has made it easier to cheat. Your credit card and an Internet connection can procure a paper for you on just about any subject and length. You can copy and paste for free from various Web sites. Students have made creative use of texting and video on their cell phones to gain unauthorized access to material for exams. But be aware that technology has also created ways for instructors to easily detect these forms of academic dishonesty. Most colleges make these tools available to their instructors. Instructors are also modifying their testing approaches to reduce potential academic misconduct by using methods that are harder to cheat at (such as in-class essays that evaluate your thinking and oral presentations).

If you feel uneasy about doing something in your college work, trust your instincts. Confirm with the instructor that your intended form of research or use of material is acceptable. Cheating just doesn’t pay.

Excerpt adapted from College Success by University of Minnesota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.


Video – this is a rough cut of my video. I plan to clean it up and add design elements, closed captioning and a transcript.

The Value of Academic Integrity

Video by Irene Stewart, January 10, 2018


Plagiarism—and How to Avoid It

Plagiarism is the unacknowledged use of material from a source. At the most obvious level, plagiarism involves using someone else’s words and ideas as if they were your own. There’s not much to say about copying another person’s work: it’s cheating, pure and simple. But plagiarism is not always so simple. Notice that our definition of plagiarism involves “words and ideas.” Let’s break that down a little further.

Woman's hand writing with a number of papers on a desk.
Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash

Words. Copying the words of another is clearly wrong. If you use another’s words, those words must be in quotation marks, and you must tell your reader where those words came from. But it is not enough to make a few surface changes in wording. You can’t just change some words and call the material yours; close, extended paraphrase is not acceptable.

Ideas. Ideas are also a form of intellectual property. You may this idea in a passage that summarizes the original, that is, it states the main idea in compressed form in language that does not come from the original. But it could still be seen as plagiarism if the source is not cited. This example probably makes you wonder if you can write anything without citing a source. To help you sort out what ideas need to be cited and what not, think about these principles:

Common knowledge. There is no need to cite common knowledge. Common knowledge does not mean knowledge everyone has. It means knowledge that everyone can easily access. If the information or idea can be found in multiple sources and the information or idea remains constant from source to source, it can be considered common knowledge. This is one reason so much research is usually done for college writing—the more sources you read, the more easily you can sort out what is common knowledge: if you see an uncited idea in multiple sources, then you can feel secure that idea is common knowledge.

Distinct contributions. One does need to cite ideas that are distinct contributions. A distinct contribution need not be a discovery from the work of one person. It need only be an insight that is not commonly expressed (not found in multiple sources) and not universally agreed upon.

Disputable figures. Always remember that numbers are only as good as the sources they come from. If you use numbers or any statistics always cite your source of those numbers. If your instructor does not know the source you used, you will not get much credit for the information you have collected.

Everything said previously about using sources applies to all forms of sources. Some students mistakenly believe that material from the Web, for example, need not be cited. Or that an idea from an instructor’s lecture is automatically common property. You must evaluate all sources in the same way and cite them as necessary.

Bulletin board with notes and pictures.
Photo by Jo Szczepanska on Unsplash

Forms of Citation

You should generally check with your instructors about their preferred form of citation when you write papers for courses. No one standard is used in all academic papers. You can learn about the three major forms or styles used in most any college writing handbook and on many Web sites for college writers:

  • The Modern Language Association (MLA) system of citation is widely used but is most commonly adopted in humanities courses, particularly literature courses.
  • The American Psychological Association (APA) system of citation is most common in the social sciences.
  • The Chicago Manual of Style is widely used but perhaps most commonly in history courses.

Many college departments have their own style guides, which may be based on one of the above. Your instructor should refer you to his or her preferred guide, but be sure to ask if you have not been given explicit direction.

Excerpt adapted from College Success by University of Minnesota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.


Understanding and Avoiding Plagiarism: Type of Plagiarism

University of Guelph Library, 2014. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License


Resources

To learn more, check out the Learning Portal. The Learning Portal shares resources from colleges across Ontario.

Academic Integrity – http://tlp-lpa.ca/research/academic-integrity

How to Cite – http://tlp-lpa.ca/research/citation


Unit would end with self-check or self-test questions to be developed.


 

This is my prototype of materials to remix into a new unit. I am considering combining these into one container although, I am not sure what technology would be best to put this together. I am also not sure if all these resources have creative commons licensing that can be combined. Finally, I am not sure that this would represent a complete picture of Academic Integrity or if I am missing content. If you would like to provide any feedback or suggestions, your ideas would be most welcome.

Gotta catch’em all!

Screenshot Pokemon Go

I am fortunate to have some lovely walking paths very near my home. I enjoyed walk along Mud Creek and seeing all the creatives, real and virtual. And it is something I miss greatly. Particularly in 2016, I was walking 2 – 3 kilometers per day taking pictures of the neighbourhood cat who followed me part of the way every day or of the ducks and geese that regularly blocked my path. During this time, I also enjoyed playing Pokemon Go. It was fun and it kept track of how far I had walked.

20170307_124628
Neighbourhood Cat

I became quite ill in late 2016 and was diagnosed with Sarcoidosis in early 2017. I have not yet reached remission but I am hopeful. Right now, if I work, there is no energy left over and I can make it to the end of the block and back but not to the paths.

These daily adventures taking photos and playing Pokemon Go are probably the most interesting things I have done with my phone. I hesitate to say smart phone because mine is kinda dumb. And I like it that way. I think cellphone and data plans are too expensive in many cases. I do not feel the need to spend a couple of thousand dollars a year to be in constant contact. I don’t check my email or do work on my phone. I have a few close friends and family who have my number.

I know there are many cool and useful apps available and maybe I will find some new one to add but for right now, I am happy to live in the dark ages of cellphones.

20161008_181336

Response to Daily Extend #oext198

 

 

Mapping my PLN

PLN Analysis by I Stewart (1)

This is my final Extend Activity for the Collaborator Module. I took my time in completing this and considered who I might like to add to my PLN. I wanted to look for some thought leaders to add, outside all the wonderful leaders that are already in my Ontario Extend network. I had already added Rajiv Jhangiani as he was a keynote speaker at a recent Open Education Summit that I attended. I added Jesse Stommel and JR Dingwall to my list.

During my thinking time, I also Zoomed with Terry Greene about some of my struggles coming up with this map. I VConnected with Helen DeWaard and Terry Greene and really enjoyed that opportunity to listen in to Festival of Learning 2018. I have appreciated reading and receiving feedback about my blog. I also joined the Making Sense of Open Education lead by Jenni Hayman and have learned from participating in the discussion forums. Later this week, I will have Zoom lunch with Alan Levine and others from Extend West!

I think my struggle with developing my PLN map came from, at that time, participating primarily through Twitter. By extending the ways I interact with other in my PLN, my map and my experiences are richer.

Linking #MakingSense18 to #oext193

Today’s Ontario Extend Daily Extend (193) asked us to imagine how students would react if we only provided feed back and no grades:

After completing the tweet, I turned to  Day 4 of the MOOC Making Sense of Open Education which was to explore Open Education Resources (OER) online. I collected some OER into a Padlet, adding articles, photos, videos and learning resources around helping student use feedback and the concept of reflective practice building on the thought of whether student know how to use the feedback we give them.

https://padlet.com/istewart2/MakingSense18Day4

I selected one photo and one resource to try to make something new. I adapted a photo from Pixabay by stockpic and a four-page hand out from WestEd from their Formative Assessment Insight open course to create this graphic:

 

feedback

I am growing in both my knowledge and my skills through my professional development this spring but perhaps more importantly, I am becoming more naturally open by practice, practice, practice.

Digital Literacy – Musings

bison cave painting
Photo of graffiti
Photo by naomi tamar on Unsplash

If I start with the premise that literacy has to do with a desire to communicate, then oral histories and cave paintings are artifacts of literacy. So too are books, works of art, music, dance, architecture, crafts, fashion and a myriad of other human expressions. As we humans strive to express the ideas in our heads, we create ways to do so. Literacy includes the desire to share ideas and information with your community, to learn and understand, to create and grow, to appreciate and critique.

In every generation, new mediums are created and old mediums are maintained, rediscovered or rejected. Therefore, digital landscapes are simply new spaces to occupy with our words, sounds, images, ideas and expressions. Our digital expressions are our cave paintings.

While I do believe that defining digital literacy (or digital literacies) can be useful, it seems to me that all the dissecting to find the small pieces and then trying to weave it back into a model leaves too much out. It is as if the act of pulling it all apart to name it leaves some of the magic on the floor that gets swept away when finally putting it back together and saying – this is it, this is the definition.

Series of small island
Photo by Shaah Shahidh on Unsplash

“We live on an island surrounded by a sea of ignorance. As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance.” ― John Archibald Wheeler

I really love is this quote from Wheeler and the idea that what we know is our island and the shore is our awareness of what we don’t know. As we learn more, our island gets bigger and so does our awareness of what we don’t yet know – our shore line increases in size. The more I learn, the more I realize that there is still so much to know.

I feel this way about digital literacy. When I got my first computer in 1992, I could not have predicted the ways in which I use computers in my daily life now. I think about my mother, who just turned 92 and who recently figured out how to video call me over Facebook on her iPad! My mother – whose first car was a horse, who grew up in a place where there was one phone in the entire village, who did not have a television until the mid 1950s, whose first motion picture was the Sound of Music in 1965 and she is video calling me! She has digital literacy. She has found a way to connect and communicate using this “new” technology!

Screenshot of video call between mother and author.
January 2018, my mom calling me on Facebook!

So what does all this musing mean for me as a teacher in a digital world? This is the space I must occupy and I need to be both an explorer and a guide. I need to seek out, learn and understand new ways of expressing information and ideas in this digital medium while practicing creation, appreciation, and discernment.

Silouettes of hikers
Photo by Tobias Mrzyk on Unsplash

I don’t know if this was what you were looking for, my fellow Extenders but it is where this Extend Activity on What is your definition of digital literacies for teaching? took me. For more about this Extending thing I am doing out loud in this blog, I invite you to join OntarioExtend.

 

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