Look Ma, No Hands!

One especially valuable tech nugget shared at this weekend’s EdCamp is the recent addition of Voice Typing to the Google Docs platform. Google has given the world the gift of voice-to-text typing on any computer that has a microphone and uses Chrome as its internet brower.

Voice Typing is a powerful tool for: 2000px-Google_Chrome_icon_(2011).svg
1. Students with IEPs who need help with writing or typing
2. Blind or visually impaired students
3. Students who are not physically able to quickly type on a keyboard or haven’t learned touch-typing
4. Adults (like a certain husband I know) who hunt-and-peck their way around a keyboard
5. A writer who needs to multi-task (Work while holding a sleeping baby or, perhaps, while choppin’ broccoli?)
6. Anyone facing a mountain of writing assignments to complete in a short period of time

Here’s what to do:
1. In Chrome, log into your Gmail and open a Google Doc. (You’ll need to have a Gmail account to make this work. Don’t worry, Gmail is free.)

2. Click on “Tools” and choose “Voice Typing.”


3. When you choose “Voice Typing,” this little microphone will appear. (Depending on your computer’s settings, you might see a prompt asking you to allow Google Docs to access your microphone. Click “Allow.”)

4. Click on the mic and start talking. Like magic, your words appear on the screen. (For punctuation, simply say the word “comma” or “period” and the correct mark will appear.)

5. After dictating to the computer, you’ll need go back and correct any misspelled words or wonky grammar, just as in any editing session.

At EdCamp, fifth grade teacher Lisa Highfill told us about the moment last week when she introduced this tool to a student who has always struggled with writing. He exclaimed, “I never thought I could be a writer, but now I am. I’m a writer!”
Amen to that.

Teach on, everyone!

6 thoughts on “Look Ma, No Hands!

  1. Omg voice talking is a gift

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. Indeed, Ms. Mundy. Not for everyone and not for every situation, but I can definitely think of a short-list of students who NEED this tech.

  3. This tool is not accessible for me. It’s light grey and I can not click on it. Is there a way to activate it?
    Thank you.

  4. Hi, Maxime. Sorry to hear that the new function isn’t launching smoothly on your computer. I’m not very good at tech support, but I have two ideas that might be the cause of the trouble. First, make sure you’re using Chrome to open your Google Docs (as opposed to some other browser, such as Firefox or Safari) because the tool will only work with the Chrome browser. (See how Google’s being sneaky and forcing us to use its browser? Clever, Google…very clever.)

    If you are using Chrome and still can’t activate the tool, my guess is that your microphone hasn’t been enabled. For some strange reason (makes no sense to me), some school districts disable the camera and microphone functions on the computers before they hand them out to teachers. You might need to get your campus tech person to override this setting, allowing microphone access.

    Those are my two best guesses, anyway. Hope you’re able to unravel that tech knot. TGIF! Laura

  5. Daniel Mwatari says:

    thank you Laura , its working

  6. Awesome, Daniel! And, as with any writing process, we need to be sure to go back and edit for punctuation, of course. 😉

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