Last month, I was working on a Google Document and clicked “Tools.” I discovered a new option called “Voice typing.” Just as the name suggests, it allows the user to dictate instead of type.

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Simply, click on “Voice typing” and a microphone will appear on the left side of your Google Document. Click on the microphone icon and allow Google to access the microphone on your device. Voila! Voice typing will turn your spoken words to text on the document.

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When the microphone is red, anything you say will be written as text. Just like your SmartPhone talk to text feature, it will recognize words like “comma” and “period” and insert the punctuation if you say these words as you dictate.

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I have students every year who injure themselves playing sports and are unable to type for weeks on end. I have students who have never taken a keyboarding class and still hunt and peck when typing an essay, which is an incredibly time-consuming endeavor. I have also found this feature very helpful for students with 504 plans or IEPs who benefit from the myriad ways that technology can help them to complete their work.

I’m quick to remind students that anything dictated will require careful editing since our speech patterns do not always translate into strong writing. When we speak, our tone tends to be more casual yet academic writing demands a more formal tone. Our spoken sentences are often long and benefit from revision. When we speak, we use our tone of voice to emphasize particular words or phrases. However, when we write we rely on dynamic word choice and proper punctuation to highlight important points. I’d argue these are important lessons for a generation that is more likely to record their thoughts than write them down.

11 Responses

  1. Caitlin,

    There is no way for me to thank you enough for posting this!!! I am always searching for easy to use voice recognition as I have students who require accommodations, and this is the easiest (and best!) one I have ever seen! I actually tried it out this morning myself as I am a grad student. I used it to write a five page paper in about an hour, something that would have taken me considerably longer to do if typing (not because I type slow but because sometimes it is more difficult to marshall one’s thoughts while typing than it is while speaking). I will definitely be using this in the future for both myself and my students.

    Thank you!!!

    • You’re welcome, Mallory!

      It’s fun that you can use this for both your own work in grad school and with your students.

      My 8-year-old is writing a book and uses this feature to get her writing from her notebook onto a Google Doc, which she has shared with her great grandpa, who is an editor! Technology is amazing!

      Take care.

  2. I love this, Catlin. I will hook up my headset so I can use Voice Typing sometimes when I am owrking on edits of your docs. — Grandpa Ken Fermoyle

  3. Thanks, Catlin! Great to know about this tool. I sometimes find myself in conversation with parents (and other teachers, to be honest!) who focus on issues such as spelling and handwriting when I’m trying to get kids to produce ideas. In those conversations I sometimes hypothesize that even typing will not be a skill we need for much longer, since by the time the students in our classrooms are in the workforce of tomorrow, I’m thinking they will speak to their devices more that they type on them. So my question is: has anyone yet studied the differences between language that is spoken and transcribed rather than written/typed in a first draft? I am trying to balance the realities of the age with the reality that when we write by hand we are forced to slow our brains down sufficiently to make choices about words that we would not necessarily make if we were typing or speaking. Does that make sense? Is language that is spoken and transcribed materially and stylistically different from language that is written….?

    • Those are all great questions, Deborah! I’m not sure if there is research yet on the differences between speaking and typing/writing. I have no doubt there are differences, but I don’t know what they are specifically. Maybe someone else reading this can point you towards some research. I’ve read a bit about the difference between reading on paper and reading on screen, but not about writing.

      I agree that writing forces us to slow down and think about word choice, sentence structure, tone, etc. When my students use voice typing, we treat it as a sloppy draft. Once they’ve got words on the screen, then they shift into edit and refine mode. It’s critical that they bring an editor’s eye to this writing.

      As we move into the uncharted waters of the digital age, we need to ask these important questions! Technology is wonderful but it doesn’t necessarily improve everything.


  4. There is a significant between writing with your voice and writing with a pen for example; no more spelling mistakes. However, google is only about 95 percent accurate but that means there are five mistakes in every hundred words. Homophones and small words are often misinterpreted. Although larger words are more often correct if spoken like a newsreader. Whenever you can use two words to get one ie. gastronomical cooking. By adding the word cooking your increasing your odds of getting gastronomical right. For place names that are unusual use Google search and it’s voice tools find the word you are looking for instead of the Doc voice tool.
    It is also available in Google slides ,but only in the presenters text you have to cut and paste to place it inside the document. I a trick I have learned is if you have a Flipp Chromebook, flip it to a tablet and it will allow you to use the voice writing tool inside of Google Draw and Slides. Many students use the voice writing tool only to request words that they cannot spell themselves and will use word protection tools as a preference.
    Tips from a dyslexic teacher

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