Is a better nickname Blurt Reynolds or Blurt Convy? All I did was blurt things out and what I spoke flashed, immediately, onto my computer’s screen.
I just had to monitor (Nile not Savannah, wink-wink) the wording, keep on blurting and, eventually, my brain caught up and proceeded to repair itself, short-term-memory-wise.
It was and is really cool! What about Blurt Bacharach? What about Ernie and Blurt?
I used voice recognition software to dramatically restore my damaged short-term-memory and how I did this was by using the software, Dragon NaturallySpeaking! (www.nuance.com), a pc, Microsoft Word and a Sony digital recorder (www.Sony.com), in tandem, simultaneously. I wasn’t smart enough to conceive of using the cocktail of apparati, together. A cognitive specialist recommended that I do so.
As a graduate student, at a large public university, I recorded every lecture of every class meeting, with the digital recorder. Then, when I returned home, I connected the recorder to my computer and uploaded the recorder files to my PC’s desktop, with my USB cord.
Once they were on my desktop, I created icons for them, labeling each, according to the class title, date and file folder.
In reality, the lectures always lasted longer than one file’s length; therefore, I would title the files, according to the class title: EDCI 667, the date: 08_14_11 and the recording file number: a, b, or c, for example.
Labeling the files, as such, allowed me to have quick reference capability, for triangulating where, in a given semester, class and lecture part, a specific utterance or piece of information was communicated.
Then, I would use my computer’s mouse to click on the digital recorder’s on screen display, to start the recordings.
The recordings played through Dragon NaturallySpeaking!’s headset and, when I would hear a pertinent datum, seamlessly, I merely spoke the note and the wording of my utterance flashed, instantaneously, up onto my computer’s screen.
What this allowed me to do was be a much more thorough and on-task student, based on the fact that I was killing more than one bird with just one stone.
As well, even though it mechanized and accomplished more than one task, at once, relieving me from having to think or remember and write or type my thoughts, I, still, was required to maintain focus and continuously monitor the wording that flashed up onto my computer’s monitor.
Then, I printed the notes I made with the software and Microsoft Word, collated them and stored them in a three-ring binder, allowing me to follow along, as I reviewed the recordings, reinforcing what information I was intending to learn, making it much easier for the information to be registered into my crystal memory.
I used the course syllabus to guide me in naming each of the files, to allow me to cross-reference them; it was much easier to locate a specific file that way, due to the fact that I could cross reference a particular date with the syllabus, in conjunction with the specific topic of the recording’s content.
The amazing thing that happened to my cognition was that my memory deficit was dramatically reduced, by virtue of my ability to speak my thoughts out of my head and have them be captured, in my line of sight, before they dissipated into the ether.
It is my belief that, eventually, as I had the lessening of cognitive burden take effect, my memory was able to resurge; however, I still have an defective short-term-memory, especially when I am extremely tired. Voice recognition software’s use has made learning, researching, writing, rewriting and locating things much easier for me, though.
Although I have not been re-tested, in the previous six to seven years, to reassess the degree of my memory deficit, I know that, for example, when I go to the grocery store to buy a number of things, instead of being able to or call approximately 3 items, without a written or digital list, I can routinely hold 6 to 10 items in my head, successfully.
I think the fact that, instead of using my substandard memory to record things that are or that were pertinent, as a graduate student, the fact that I was and am still able to take written notes, in real time, and use the recordings with voice recognition software, to take even better, more accurate and comprehensive notes, the burden on my brain was lessened, substantially.
Eventually, I became aware that professors, like other people who work off routines, use templates for planning their communications and I was able to pinpoint, for example, where, in a given recording, I should look to find critical information that was divulging a homework and/or reading assignment.
Having figured this out, I pin-pointed where a professor was likely to communicate this information, reviewed it, and completed the work and/or reading, before moving on to review and speak notes from the rest of the recording, using Dragon NaturallySpeaking!, as well.
Initially, I didn’t realize that the use of voice recognition software was going to be as profound a tool, to me, as it has turned out to be; yet, through its use and its having lessened my burden, as a student, it feels as though my memory deficit has diminished and, by virtue of this fact, I recommend its use to everyone who has an affected short-term-memory.
It’s almost like a weird, invisible wall or barrier existed that thwarted my ability to remember things, effectively. Using voice recognition software, in a way that caused me to use sight (monitoring), cognition (generating and monitoring), without my need to use my fine-motor skills (writing or typing), freed my brain up to produce more… substantially more.
Finally, the fact that I was able to flesh out more, more easily, led me to experience, eventually, an increase in confidence and competence; this is due to the fact that, as I used voice recognition soft-ware, more, the greater the amount of communication I was able to produce, more easily.
Eventually, I was able to experience much more ease, in ingesting, synthesizing and reporting my findings, leading me to experience an increase in confidence in myself, as a student and as an educator.
Instead of increasing the number of credit hours I took, per semester, as a graduate student, I chose to contact my previous boss at the university and ask him or her about resuming work, as a tutor.
He or she agreed and I began to work for the school, again, as a tutor of student athletes. I worked here until just before my final semester, when the incoming president of the university proclaimed that only undergraduate students were going to be able to work as tutors.
The following semester, I used to concentrate on writing my master’s thesis.
Graduate students had been receiving 12-13 dollars, per hour, as opposed to undergraduate students, who received $8 per hour.
Even though I have been given carte blanche, as far as disability-related accommodations were concerned, I still required an extension to finish my thesis. Had I been tutoring during that period of time, I would have required an even longer amount of time in extension.
This was due to the fact that, even though the use of Dragon NaturallySpeaking! has and had restrengthened my memory, the sheer quantity of work, tutoring and researching and writing, I did, caused me to experience a temporary inability to process information easily or even to hold information in my head, very long.
At the time, I didn’t even think, for a minute, then I might have overdone it, to the extent that I had destroyed all that I’d rewired.
After a couple of weeks, I resumed the acts of compiling, synthesizing, communicating and refining my thesis. Then, I had to proofread it and insert citations, where they were required. After one round of suggested revisions and questions, posed, I officially received my Master of Education degree, in Writing.
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