The world has been concerned about screen time for years now. My own daughters at ages 10 and 12 seem almost as glued to their screens as my parents are in their late 60s (grandparents are the worst!) But I’m at ease now, knowing we’re nearly through the woods! I’m not the only ‘early-adopter’ I’ve noticed (@betchaboy being another) who are embracing the new world of voice control for getting to what you want. This is increasingly leading me to not need to glance or tap at a screen.
This is the 5th post I’ve written by voice and yes, the technology is only developed as far as having to manually correct every twentieth word, but it’s still quicker (I do all the correcting at the end). I am 90% voice control in my car now, demanding albums by The Arctic Monkeys, directions to the nearest pet shop, sending text messages, starting calls, or asking for suggestions for stopping daughters arguing on the back seat. Voice control is the next big thing, it even has its own sub-category in news sites. As we connect more devices around our homes and work to our tech accounts, it will become normal to expect to literally just call out for what we want.
A voice controlled education
Have you ever procrastinated about replying to emails or writing those school reports? Me too, but not as much these days. I’m not going to suggest at this stage that voice-control will improve teaching and learning but I thought, as I normally write about education, I’d take you through how voice control is helping me and some of my colleagues be better professionals and encourage more engagement from the students.
- Writing: reflection & reports:
In New Zealand, teachers are expected to journal their attempts to improve their practice. For some this seems as arduous as report writing. I’ve shown some teachers that in both cases, a blog post or report can be spoken directly into a smart phone, normally eliminating any typos. Speaking reports into your phone or laptop to be copied and pasted into the school administrative system saves a lot of time. When blogging, the phone can then also photograph any evidence, and suddenly a journal entry with photo can be as quick as 40 seconds.
- Student engagement and output:
My students are often aware of the latest technologies but either ignore them or see them as just fun. Rarely do they consider how they might impact on their school life. However, once I point out to students, especially a percentage of boys, that 500 words can be produced in a third of the time by voice, they start to pay attention.
You will have noticed the microphone on most Google search box is these days. Systems like Siri and “OK Google” can also sometimes be better “Googlers” than the average student. Being able to ask for the information you need allows the artificial intelligence to construct the search. It’s not perfect but improving and before 2025, will be the most common way we successfully find what we’re looking for.
- Quick replies and communication:
Even every laptop these days accepts voice control. In my office I find myself slightly more willing to send those quick replies to everyone because I can say in 4 seconds what might take me 20 to type.
- Marking:I work in a Google school where many students are using Google docs and slides voice typing is available in that the tools menu of all the main Google apps. My MacBook Pro starts voice typing every time I double-hit the function key. Being able to speak comments and ideas into Google comment boxes makes the whole process much quicker. I have already had colleagues come to see me to express how much this is true for them as well.
- Making work easier one letter at a time
To be honest voice typing and voice recognition simply make life so much less stressful. We are all used to it, but the demand on your brain when you are typing and viewing the screen makes work far more tiring than you think. Now that I am voice typing a large percentage of what I do I now realise how annoying the act of typing is. I highly recommend it.
A very vocal 2025
Yes, I would have to say it’s not perfect yet but I have developed new habits that now make my life so much easier. In the last six months I have halved the amount of time spent typing and looking at screens. Even the age old problem of walking while texting is no longer an issue now I can speak my text messages into the end of my phone even in noisy surroundings. This post has now reached over 800 words and unlike I used to in 2016, I did not procrastinate before writing this as I knew even slowly dictating it would be an easier task. The tech companies are all expecting voice to become the most common interface with computers over the next five years, if I were you I would start giving it a go.