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The Teaching Space Podcast

The podcast is on pause for a year (as of August 2021) as I am tackling the final year of my masters in education (which I am doing alongside my full-time job). In the meantime, please revisit the considerable back catalogue of episodes. Also, give me a follow on Twitter, where I am still very active and sign up for my personal newsletter here. You can visit The Teaching Space website here:

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Dec 7, 2018

Episode 40 of The Teaching Space Podcast explores how dictation could help you cut time spent typing emails.


Did you listen to Episode 33? In it, I explained my secret method for working twice as fast as anyone else… touch-typing. Did you try it? Can you already type?

This episode is for those who are still struggling. It’s for those who already type at ANY speed. In short, it’s for anyone who needs to get words down quickly. So… anyone!

Today’s episode is all about dictation. I was going to call this episode How to be a Dictator, then I changed my mind!

Back in the Day

In the offices of the 90’s and early 2000’s (I’m basing this on my own memory by the way), dictation was used regularly. Someone would speak into a dictaphone (they had mini tapes!) and dictate letters, notes… anything really. The tape would be sent to the secretary or secretarial pool and the audio would be transcribed.

As technology developed, people’s IT skills improved. The advent of email meant that many people developed typing skills, and you’d increasingly find people who previously would have dictated, typing their own emails and letters.

There are still some professions who use dictation, for example, doctors and lawyers. But they are in a minority as I outlined.

Why Did People Dictate?

The main reason for dictating was and still is speed. However, if you use the “back in the day” example I mentioned above, it could take over 24 hours to receive anything back from a secretary, depending on their workload. That’s not fast. You can see why many people typed up their own correspondence and why touch typing is such a valuable skill.

But why am I telling you this?

Because speaking is still faster than typing and (thankfully) technology has moved on.

Dictation Today

Dictation today is very different. There are lots of options:

  1. Use a human transcription service. Record your audio (on your phone would seem simplest, no need to buy extra kit) and send it to a transcription service like Rev's business is transcription and they have super fast typists all over the world just waiting for you. They have turned short pieces of work around for me in less than an hour. Their prices are reasonable at $1 per minute.

  2. Use machine transcription.  Rev's sister company, Temi, uses advanced voice recognition software (there is no human involved) to transcribe your audio. Turnaround times are way faster than Rev and the cost is minimal at $0.10 a minute. They offer a free trial.

  3. Use a dictation app: I love Just Press Record app - the accuracy is amazing.

  4. Use voice typing in Google Docs: you can find this option under the TOOLS menu. This is also accurate.

  5. Use the microphone icon on your iPhone to dictate texts, emails, etc.

My Experience

I’ve tried all the options just outlined and they are great. The one I use most is the Just Press Record app. But I encourage my students to use Voice Typing in Google Docs regularly. Dictation takes getting used to as if you are using an app, you need to speak your punctuation. Just take your time, learn the commands and go for it. Remember, writing and editing are two separate activities. With this in mind, I have found NOT seeing the words forming on a screen in front of me helpful. That’s why I love the app option.

In Summary

If you want to work more efficiently and spend less time typing, try dictation. 

Wrap Up

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