Vance Stevens presents on Supporting Student Writing with the Help of Voice-to-Text

Learning2gether Episode #403

Note: Vance Stevens gave an improved (with time and experience) presentation on this topic to the MMVC19 online virtual conference on Aug 4, 2019. You can view the updated show notes: write-up, link to the slides, read the chat logs, and replay the video, which is embedded where I blogged the event as Learning2gether episode 417 at . Thanks to the teachers at SQU for allowing me to experiment first on them, as shown below.

On Thursday, March 7, 2019, Jim Buckingham invited Vance to meet his teacher colleagues at Sultan Qaboos University, Muscat, Oman, online in Zoom to share insights into giving feedback on student writing in a digital age. We start from what the teachers are doing currently with student writing at SQU and see if any of my recent research and publications on the issue will be of relevance to them.

This presentation demonstrated techniques in providing students with feedback on their writing  while utilizing Google Docs with voice input via features native to tablet and mobile devices. The presentation was in three parts.

The first part starts with a demonstration of using Google Docs with students through video evidence of its effectiveness.

The second part shows how the kind of feedback illustrated in the video can be performed by the teacher using voice tools rather than keyboard. This frees the teacher to move among the students in a classroom and provide feedback by speaking into a handheld device, while the spoken feedback shows up as comments in the student’s Google Doc.

The third part shows how teachers can encourage writing fluency by collecting student writing on paper and then speaking what the student wrote, in correct English, into Google Docs. The teacher returns the original paper to the student with a printout of what the student said expressed in correct language. On the printout the teacher has written suggestions for holistic development of what the student is trying to communicate. The student works in Google Docs to act on the suggestions for revision and improvement made by the teacher, and subsequent revision cycles address both accuracy and fluency, but with a version of the student’s work which is not bogged down in accuracy from the outset.

Here is a breakdown of the presentation

7:41 min – Introduction – 3 Parts of the Presentation are Introduced – Why Google docs is my tool of choice for teaching.
10:38 min – Part 1 – Screencast – Demonstration of “real-time” Teacher to Student feedback using Google Docs.
13:34 min – Part 2 – “Just in Time” feedback – Teacher making comments on student work
16:41 min – Live demonstration with the group on using “Voice to Text” in a Google doc comment.
25:30 min – Part 3 – Using “Voice to Text” to encourage student revision
36:00 min – Q&A – How does the technique increase accuracy?
39:55 min – Q&A – Might this have a practical application in the CPS Writing Center?
41:12 min – Comment – The technique could help students with getting feedback on writing structure
42:30 min – Q&A – Does the technique run the risk of discouraging/diminishing student effort?
45:09 min – Q&A – Did you ask students for their feedback on the technique?
46:03 min – Q&A – Can students interact with the teacher in the same way? ie. using “Voice to Text”
49:39 min – Q&A – Is it possible to insert “voice recordings” into Google Docs?

A Twitter back-channel was made available during the presentation. Participants were told they could ask questions and/or tweet about this presentation at #squvance


The presentation had three phases
As explained in this slide presentation

This presentation is accessible via this conveniently mnemonic URL here:

1. Why Google Docs is a my tool of choice for providing feedback on writing

  • A great example of student interaction with a teacher in Google Docs

2. How teachers can use voice to provide just-in-time feedback to students in class on their writing

  • Derived from
    Stevens, V.  (2015). Finding Your Voice: Teaching Writing Using Tablets with Voice Capability. TESL-EJ, Volume 19, Number 3, Available:; Also available at :; pp. 1-11 in pdf.
  • This is basically about using voice to make corrections in Google Docs to compositions the students are composing on their devices.
    • The teacher logs on to Google Docs and puts a student’s work on a data show connected to the class PC
    • The teacher logs on to Google Docs on his mobile device and carries it to where the students are, and advises them individually about revisions needed
    • While advising, the teacher creates comments in the students’ papers and speaks those comments into his/her device
    • The comments appear in the composition the student has open in Google Docs, and also on the data show where other students can see it
    • The students act on those revisions and the teacher works with them

3. How teachers can use voice to help students who start writing on paper increase fluency and possibly accuracy

Jim Buckingham has prepared a document and distributed it in advance to faculty at SQU

In that document I left a question for SQU teachers

I am told you have PC labs that students can’t practically access, but that your students have mobiles that your teachers may or may not be utilizing. Given these conditions, how do you teach writing?

In order more me to address the issue of what is practical there I need to know how the teachers are teaching writing, what the problems are, do they use the mobiles already in writing, if so how? and so on.

The SQU context (audience)

  • SQU has 6 computer labs shared among 200 instructors and booked solid almost constantly so access to them is limited. However, mobile phones are everywhere and thus commonly available in the classroom.

The KBZAC context (my most recent teaching assignment)

What I was addressing at the aviation college was large classes 20 students or so, each in possession of a device. At one time they all had PCs, at the end they all had iPads. There are three issues.

  1. Getting the students to write. I have always had them write in Google Docs no matter what the device, which is a great tool for a teacher to collect writing and quickly give feedback. But in large classes many let themselves slip through the cracks. Minimal effort, not much follow through on revision, with some exceptions.
  2. When they did write, getting feedback to them. When they had PCs they had keyboards. They could respond to feedback. With iPads or mobiles I suppose, more problematic. I began looking at ways for me to use voice to speed the feedback process. When the iPads appeared I got students to start on paper and then used my voice to read what they had written into Google Docs.
  3. Revision. I can work quickly in Docs using voice. My early work is about walking around a room and giving feedback orally on my device that would then show up on the student’s and might also be projected on the screen in front. It was effective for reading over students’ shoulders and working with students where they sat, not from the front of the room. My later research when students lost keyboards with switch to iPad showed students responded to the technique you read about. Not all of them, not the crack-slippers, they didn’t care. But if I converted what was on paper into a Google Doc, the students were in many cases willing to revise that.

If I were teaching there at SQU I could get my students to use my technique, or the more open minded to, as I did in my aviation college context. But in that context the other teachers didn’t care how I did it. Each teacher taught writing his/her way. Exam results were always abysmal for writing. Nothing was effective, the usual way because it wasn’t, my way because I couldn’t get enough students on board to provide traction, and also I tended to be shunted between classes and rarely got more than 2-3 weeks with any class of students at the time I was doing my research.

Given these ‘limitations’ on my study I was quite pleased to get the notably positive response from the students who increased their output in writing through following my technique, a sampling of whom I have documented in my results.


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Wed Feb 20 12pm EST – EFLIS webinar on Conversation Analysis in the Language Classroom

EFLIS are pleased to announce the 4th and last EFLIS webinar for this year 2018-2019.
I hope you can make it! Information on the webinar and how to access it is below:

TitleConversation Analysis in the Language Classroom

Date: Wednesday, February 20th, 2019

Time: 12 PM to 1PM EST (NY time)

Presenter: Dr. Catherine Box, University of Pennsylvania, USA

Abstract: This webinar will explore practical ways in which insights from Conversation Analysis (CA) can enhance classroom practices. First, we will examine some of the basic tenets of CA. The bulk of our time together will explore applying CA to the Language Classroom. Specifically, we will discuss (1) how CA can be helpful to decide what to teach, and (2) how CA can help us to either create or adapt materials in order to provide students in the SL/FL classroom with authentic learning experiences. Focus will be on the practical, rather than theoretical, aspects of CA.

Presenter Bio: Catherine Box is a Lecturer in Educational Linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research focuses on utilizing CA principles to inform language instruction, particularly in K-12 ESL settings. She teaches in the M.S.Ed. TESOL program, where she teaches TESOL methods and practica to budding ESL/EFL teachers. She holds an Ed.D. from Teachers College, Columbia University, where she served for three years as full-time faculty in the TESOL K-12 Program.

Webinar Access:

Please join my meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone.

Fri Feb 22 to Sun Feb 24 – Nellie Deutsch hosts 10th annual free connecting online conference 2019

Nellie Deutsch would like to invite you to the annual free connecting online conference for 2019:

She writes: “This is our tenth anniversary. The conference will take place online via Moodle for Teachers from February 22 to 24. Click to join the conference area so you can enter the live online classes, view the recordings, learn about the presenters and their sessions, engage with the other participants, reflect, and get your badges and final certificate:

You may view the recordings, if you cannot make the live online classes. There will be badges and a free certificate for attending or watching the recordings, reflecting, and learning. Let the learning begin!”

Wed Feb 25 1030 ET – 2nd of 3 TESOL Webinars free to TESOL members – Exemplary Teaching with the SIOP Model

Bringing the 6 Principles for Exemplary Teaching of English Learners to Life With the SIOP Model

Presenter: Deborah Short

Date: Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Time: 10:30 am–12:00 pm ET

Registration Deadline: 25 February 2019

Register to attend or be notified of link to recording:

Register for FREE! (free for TESOL members; $50 for non-members)

Mon Feb 26 or Tue Feb 27 2000 EST Kim Harrison discusses Symbaloo on VSTE Island in Second Life

Kim Harrison invited the VSTE VE PLN which she moderates to an event “Tonight on VSTE Island at 5 PM SLT (8PM EST)” This was received by me “today” Feb 26, at 6:56 AM

Here is what Kim posted:

Symbaloo is not a new tool, but maybe it’s one you’ve never tried. Maybe the way you once shared URLs with your students has disappeared as devices have changed. Since the dawn of the 1 to 1 Chromebook in my district the network space we used to share jump off pages has gone away. My old friend Symbaloo has returned to rescue us in a big way.

Tonight on VSTE Island we will share Symbaloo and other cool tools that help make teaching and learning easier.

If you don’t have a Second Life account get one, it’s free. We recommend setting one up at the Rockcliffe University Consortium’s Gateway here: Download and install the software. While your Second Life viewer (software) is open click this link…/104/22 and voila! Look for an avatar on VSTE Island and say, “Hey, I’m new!” We will take care of the rest.

Thu Feb 28 1800 UTC Eurocall VW SIG host Margherita Berti on use of VR in the language classroom

Our first webinar presenter of the season is Margherita Berti who, on THURSDAY 28Tth FEBRUARY at 6pm GMT, will talk to us about her research on the use of VR in the Language Classroom.

Title: “You can almost feel like you are in the place presented”: Implementing Virtual Reality in the Language Classroom

Description: This webinar illustrates principles and practices regarding the use of virtual reality to foster cultural awareness in the language classroom. Findings collected during a cultural immersion experience with beginner and intermediate L2 Italian students revealed that virtual reality allowed learners to see and discover diverse cultural layers, practices and perspectives in authentic and contextualized environments. Affordances and constraints of virtual reality for language learning will also be discussed.

Bio: Margherita Berti is a doctoral student in the Second Language Acquisition and Teaching (SLAT) program at the University of Arizona. Her current research focuses on the integration of technology tools for pedagogical purposes in foreign language courses. She has presented papers at various conferences such as ACTFL, AAAL, and CALICO and published articles and reviews in academic journals as Issues and Trends in Educational Technology (ITET) and CALICO Journal.

Details about the venue (Adobe Acrobat) will be shared closer to the date.Feel free to disseminate!Best regards,Susanna & Chris

Here’s a link to the recording for those who were there and want to watch it again, or disseminate it and for those who could not make it.

Fri Mar 1 1300 UTC EVO Minecraft MOOC convenes to discuss moving from Google+ Communities to Moodle

Whither EVOMC20?

How can we replace Google+ Communities. Rose Bard proposes Moodle. Vance and Jane concur.

But what do you think? We plan to meet and discuss.

Here is the time wherever you are:

It is proposed to

  • meet in discord
  • meet in discord and Minecraft as well (optional) and record the meeting to allow others to follow the discussion

Hi all. As the clock counts down on the demise of this marvelous home for our community, many of us are actively considering where we should move to. If you have any thoughts on the best all-in-one home for our continued sharing and discussion, please add them here. If you’d like to talk it over live, you can meet us in Discord at 1300 UTC on March 1. It might be fun and appropriate to pop into Minecraft while we’re at it, if that’s not too distracting, though the focus would be on the discussion.

The following is from a thread in FB which captures one part of the genesis of this proposed meeting

<Rose BardVance Stevens and I talked about Moodle Livre. Now that I can work on the computer again, I need to discuss this with the team. The great thing about Moodle is that we can link the blog (wordpress) into it and use the blog as external tool to the community. Let’s have a meeting in Discord this week to discuss it.
<Jane ChienAbsolutely! Mattie Tsai will be reading this tomorrow, and he’d be touched as well. Great suggestion! Moodle is better than Google Classroom! we’ll set up a discord meeting this week.

<Jane ChienVance Stevens I think Friday March 1st 1300 UTC works well. I’ve checked with Olive, Rose, and Dak. I’ll ask Don and Mircea as well.

To join us in Discord, follow these instructions

Instructions for joining us in Minecraft are here

Mon Mar 4 Webinar on Error Correction: Tips & Techniques for Language Teachers

Nikki Ashcraft

Dear TESOLers:

Please join me, the University of Missouri, and VIPKID for a free 1-hour webinar on “Error Correction: Tips & Techniques for Language Teachers” on Monday, March 4, from 6-7 p.m. EST.

Register to watch the recording, even if you can’t participate in the live session. Become more aware of your error correction practice and develop new strategies as well! Great for novice teachers as well as experienced teachers who want to improve the effectiveness of their error correction.

Nikki Ashcraft
Associate Teaching Professor
University of Missouri

Tue Mar 5 0100 UTC Minecraft Monday Treehouse Challenge

Kim Harrison a.k.a. K4sons has announced Minecraft Monday TONIGHT! 8 PM EST (March 4, 2019)

Our task will be to:

Work individually or in teams to create your own treehouse. Try to create a functional shelter within the branches of a nearby tree. Challenge yourself by setting a time limit. Don’t forget a ladder or stairs to get in! We can build in creative then switch to survival to see if we can survive the night!

We’ll meet at VSTE Place and use Discord so we can chat.

2 thoughts on “Vance Stevens presents on Supporting Student Writing with the Help of Voice-to-Text

  1. Pingback: Learning2gether webcasts from 4 events at TESOL 2019 Atlanta | Learning2gether

  2. Pingback: Minhaaj Rehman, CEO of Psyda, interviews Vance Stevens to discuss their life and career trajectories and convergences this century | Learning2gether

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