Back in January 2016 I attended the Bett show and I came across the Microsoft stand. If you’ve never been to the Bett show I would definitely recommend it, if you like technology and education then this is the place to be.
On the Microsoft stand I was shown a product that I knew very well that had had some new features added. OneNote is part of the Office 360 Suite. OneNote is a product that allows you to store notes, jottings, ideas, plans and many more activities that you want to write down. They are stored in the cloud through your Microsoft account and is then accessible across platforms. This is also a way of collaborating with other people.
Back in January I found out a little bit more about OneNote and that it has an add-on called Learning Tools.
Learning tools takes OneNote to the next level especially when we think about people with hidden disabilities like dyslexia. The majority of you that read my blog will understand that I use Dragon to dictate my thoughts I then use ClaroRead to proof read them. So what does Learning Tools bring to the party? Well Dragon is the dictation product and Claro is the digital reader but now both of these concepts have been added into OneNote by using the add-on Learning Tools.
The OneNote enables you to click the dictation button and you are able to speak to your computer it will then dictate what you’re saying into text. This is very useful for your thoughts and ideas that you want to get down quickly and get them into OneNote as it checks for spellings. You have to remember you need to be connected to the internet for this to work but it is still is a great way of using technology to support people with dyslexia and other learning difficulties. The immersive reader which is part of the Learning Tools add-on is another tool to support people with dyslexia and other disabilities. When you click on this it loads up the text in its own box which enables you to play the text on the page, this also has synchronised highlighting which you can use to track what your listening to and read along. It also has some great other features, it highlights adjectives, verbs and also does syllable division which is very beneficial to support with reading, it also has a light and dark screen which is very beneficial to support with visual stress. This is a great platform and has really good usability for people with dyslexia it is also very beneficial in a classroom situation as it is part of your Office Suite.
I have trialled this product many times and find it very interesting. You always have to think what is it is going to do to the rest of the industry? I think there is a place for this product. It will
support people with low ability and mild dyslexia. You’re not going to be able to dictate a whole document using this feature but it’s helpful in specific areas and I think it’s a great innovation from Microsoft and it can grow in its support by being inclusive and by using technology to support those with dyslexia and other disabilities. Using technology in the classroom is very beneficial for students, I can see Learning Tools being part of the classroom package to support those young people that have a specific learning difficulty. I think we need to continue to innovate and grow, I also hope that Microsoft will continue to develop this product thinking about visual stress and also how this can be used across the other Office products like Microsoft Word.