Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Network Strikes Back - Speech to Text

A few months ago, I had a conversation with an assessment services director about the best tools for conduct the state oral assessment. Here are some of my hastily scribbled notes and solutions:
The TEA is switching to standardized oral test administration--no more having teachers read tests to students, now it's all done through computer--for this testing cycle in grades 4, 7, and 8. TEA has been trying to have fidelity across the State. One of the things to control is the oral admin because people don’t read the same. Now they are using standardized oral administration. We also need to have headphones. Campuses have been asked to buy headphones and cardboard carrells. Every elementary and intermediate has headphones (e.g. cleaning processes?).Texas Assessment Web Site:
System Check Web Site:
Some of the feedback I've heard is as follows:
  • TEA will not allow us to use an ipad for state assessment. 
  • Schools need an option that will work on a computer and provide the ability for a student to say aloud their composition and the computer type it (speech to text).
  • Devices cannot be connected to the Internet, so that rules out solutions like what Richard Byrne highlights in this blog entry.
I'd forgotten about this conversation having figured out there was no "free" solution. Most school districts I spoke to use one of the following options:
Option A - Dragon Naturally Speaking - Dragon Home - Watch video - about $100
Option B - WordQ+SpeakQ - Find out more online Cost: About $100-$200
Surprisingly, I actually found an inexpensive iPad app that could be used for speech to text, but it can't be used since translation relies on Internet services, that aren't allowed during high stakes assessments in Texas. And, of course, if you're looking for OCR to Text to Speech, be sure to check out VoxDox which recently announced it's VoxDox for Education (free!!!) Program.
"@davidtedu: “I want to grow. I want to be better…We’re made to grow. You either evolve or disappear.” -Tupac"
This is not dissimilar from the challenges districts face with calculators vs iPad calculator app (cheap). Given the proliferation of calculator apps on iPads, not allowing them to be used presents a challenge for cash-strapped districts that spent their cash on iPads, not traditional calculators.

You may want to read this article by Kate Alexander about reluctance (or temporary lack of vision, which is understandable for a large organization) about using inexpensive apps in lieu of purchasing expensive graphing calculators.

I found this quote from Harold Jarche to be relevant to hierarchical organizations--like state education agencies--that find themselves moving too slow to meet the needs of those they wish to serve...what happens when the network of users fight back, innovating faster than the Agency/company that tries to impose its vision of what works best for it?
Traditionally, companies have been users of human capital, demanding all intellectual property for themselves. But networks can empower individuals, building upon the strengths of each member. The innovators are moving away from companies and into networks already. Today, most new companies are hiring fewer employees and many existing companies are shedding employees at every opportunity. The newly unemployed often realize their professional networks outside the organization are inadequate. Read more
Isn't that absolutely amazing? The question is, how can traditionally monolithic orgs learn to works as large networks?

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