How I used the voice recognition software, Dragon Naturally-Speaking!, to repair my damaged short-term memory, substantially, is slightly weird.
Yet, what I’m sharing is absolutely true. When I wound up having to look for work, once the George W. Bush Era-Economic Downturn really took hold, I was slightly annoyed.
This was due to the fact that, finally, as a community college writing tutor, I had been making quasi-decent money! It was really cool.
Then, everything went wrong and my hours that I was working as a tutor at two different community colleges had to be slashed, drastically.
The fact that my girlfriend, who is, now, my wife, of more than ten years, had started working for the Federal Government led us to believe that moving down, closer to where she worked would be a potential two-bird/one stone situation; therefore, off we moved.
Anyway, suddenly I was working at the University of Maryland’s writing center and as a writing tutor of the school’s student athletes. I worked for the writing center for one full year and for the athletic tutoring department for one semester.
However, after the second semester of working at the writing center, I was let know by the coordinator that, in order for me to continue to work at the writing center, I would have to enroll at the university.
I really wanted to continue to work; therefore, I prepared to re-take the graduate record examination, because of the fact that my previously-utilized scores on the test were “out of date”.
To me, especially now, this made no sense; as, it had been more than 15 years since I had acquired my learning disability and, if anything at all, my disability was thwarting my progress more prominently than ever.
But, being ever the docile show pony, I grinned and accepted the fact that I would have to be retested; next, I researched the way I would be able to be retested by a state agent.
In Maryland, an individual can only be officially tested for a learning disability’s documentation at one or two times, during the year.
This would have been able to have been done for free; yet, I had already tasted university level tutoring work…I had gone too far…it was crucial that I acquire the ability to re-enter graduate school because I had to tutor again!
Instead of having to wait for a trillion years, I bit the bullet and contacted a licensed cognitive evaluator, who, even though he or she was going to be pricier, he or she, also was going to be the key to my sooner ability to rejoin the workforce.
Thereby, I used a private practitioner who put me through many different batteries of tests, including the Woodcock-Johnson and the WAIS III (Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, 3rd Addition). Previously, I had only been administered the WAIS-R (Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-Revised).
I really wanted to ask why the test was not called: “WAIS-R-R”; however, I forgot, due to the fact that I had not yet begun to use voice recognition software.
After the guy got done putting me through all the previously-mentioned types of testing and rigmarole, he had to tabulate all of his findings and he told me that, as far as my academic prowess was concerned, the only part of my aptitude that was in any way lacking was a universal set of all things that were short-term-memory-contingent.
He told me that there was no way that I would not be granted the maximum amount of accommodation or taking the test.
In reality, this was due to the fact that my non-memory-contingent scores were in the 99th percentile. The memory-contingent scores, some of them, were in the 20th-25th percentile range.
That paradox was what allowed me to have access to extended time testing. If you or someone whom you know has to take an insipid standardized test and are or is in the same predicament, find a way to get tested…as a side remark, the testor said that I might want to think about experimenting with voice recognition software, for note-taking purposes.
Also, he suggested that I might benefit from acquiring a digital recorder that would allow me to alleviate the need for handwriting anywhere near as many class notes.
I don’t remember whether I was more freaked out by the potential for me to fail or if I was more wanting and willing to try anything, in order not to fail, quite as miserable.
Yet, what I would do, after I “successfully” was admitted to the graduate program I intended to enter, was turn the digital tape recorder on, right before the professor began to lecture, turn it off during class discussions and intermissions, and turn it off, immediately after I knew that I had successfully recorded the last thing that the professor uttered, which, I made sure, always was his or her short conversation with me, in which I confirmed his or her expectations of us, the class, with the next time the class convened.
Then, I drove home and uploaded the lecture, from the voice recorder, onto my computer’s desktop, making sure to rename (re-save) the file a name that included the date of the class.
Usually, there were more than one file per class, so I had to name the files:
“thisclass01_10_B”, et cetera.
This was, according to what class, the date of the class and what file folder I was recording to, due the fact that grad school lectures can be long.
I did this so I wouldn’t ever have the need to search for more than a few minutes before I was able to locate the right file.
Even when I was only taking one graduate school class, without working, my mind, potentially, would get overloaded, to the point that, if I wasn’t able to readily access a specific file, my high school career could have been at risk.
Truly, I think the above way I used the software was an applied use that really had no bearing on my cognition; however, if I hadn’t been able to apply the software’s use to any other thing, I might have totally abandoned it, before I was able to use it as an extremely versatile education aid, the way I did, in conjunction with the recorder to get through school.
It is obvious to me that my use of Dragon NaturallySpeaking!, in the previously-described way, showed me how the software could be used and how I could take it with me, figuring out ways to implement its use in other settings, to make up for the existence of my memory deficit, as well.
Whee! I used the technology:
*For pre-reading every textbook.
*For note-taking from recorded lectures.
*For composing written assignments.
*For recopying hand-written notes that I would take, in real-time, during actual lectures.
That way, the software allowed me to capture every word of every lecture, as though I was only having to experience each lecture once.
This was especially true, inherent in the way I was able to listen to the recordings and, when I heard a key point that was mentioned in a lecture, I clicked my mouse to pause the recording and spoke the note; this caused the wording of the note to flash up onto my computer’s screen.
After speaking several recorded lectures onto my laptop, I was able to relax more, in the knowledge that I wasn’t going to miss out on anything that was communicated by a professsor, as long as I turned the recorder on and as long as the recorder was close enough to where the professor was lecturing.
The amazing thing, however, is the fact that every time I upgraded the software, the software actually worked even better, by far, than the previous version had.
Therefore, I was able to get more of my actual thoughts out of my head and onto my computer screen and, eventually, this allowed me to experience a lessening of the burden on my cognition.
The end result, for me, was the eventual reclamation of short-term-memory capacity.