Voice Recognition Software Not Yet Ready For The Classroom

Technology & Learning, October 1998, p. 50

While voice recognition software holds promises of a future where people can use computers more easily, the technology is not yet advanced enough to be very effective, especially in a classroom setting.

Here are the advantages:

  1. Reduction of keyboard-induced repetitive stress injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome.

  2. Teachers and others can command computers by voice while their hands are kept free for other instructional purposes.

  3. Young children frustrated by large and unwieldy keyboards can still use computers.

  4. People with disabilities wouldn’t have to rely on keyboarding as much.

While these features appear to make voice recognition software a viable option, several problems reduce its practical effectiveness:

  1. Claims of 90-95% accuracy are hard to come by, and even if met, still would require a lot of correcting if one out of every 10 or 20 words is wrong.

  2. Children can be easily frustrated by errors that do occur and can blame themselves for doing something “wrong.”

  3. Voice recognition demands exacting attention to the computer and the correct ways to use the microphone and the software — attention and discipline many students, especially younger ones, will not be able to maintain.

  4. Background noise in a normal classroom is loud enough to interfere with the software and cause phantom words or mistakes.

  5. Voice recognition software demands high-end computers with plenty of memory and fast processors, which many schools may not have for some time.

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