Voice recognition software allows you to dictate to your computer. When you first purchase this type of software you train it to recognize your speech pattern. Earlier versions of this type of software required a considerable amount of training and they required you to speak very slowly. Significant improvements have been made in current software such as Dragon's Naturally Speaking, IBM's ViaVoice, Kurzwil's Voice Xpress and Power Secretary. Individualized training is still required to use the software and this would probably rule out using it in a lab setting.
Today, new computers come equipped with the ability to display video. Even given this, it still isn't commonplace for computer programs to contain video. A lot of memory is required to store video and the computer must be able to refresh images on the monitor very quickly in order for the video to look natural.
With a few upgrades to your computer you could transfer video you taped on a video camera to your computer. Video is normally stored in an analogue format. If video is to be used on a computer it must be in digital format. You can purchase a video capture card to translate video from a video camera into a digital format for the computer to use. (This isn't the same thing as a video card. A video card or video adaptor is a standard card installed in every computer that allows the computer to output text and graphics to a monitor.) You can also buy a digital video camera that records the video in digital format and transfers it to the computer via a standard serial or parallel port.
Avoiding the Mine Fields!
PROBLEM: Several students are working and suddenly some of the computers lose power. Or perhaps it isn't that bad, it's just one monitor that seems to have died.
SOLUTION: When students are moving around in the lab, it is very easy for someone to accidentally kick out a plug. Generally in networked labs there are several computers plugged into one power bar. If that gets unplugged or switched off, everyone loses power. ( It is a good idea to set the word processing program to allow for automatic back-up every five or ten minutes. If this type of situation occurs, the students will only lose the work they have entered since the last back-up.)
Sometimes the plug is in, but there is no power. Again, if you are using a power bar, the ON/ OFF switch may have been hit. Check for the red ON light to make sure.
If the monitor loses its power, it is usually for a similar reason. It is very easy to loosen the cords, without them actually falling out. If the monitor is black it is also a good idea to check and make sure someone hasn't turned the brightness button down so nothing is visible.
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