Speech Recognition: Transforming the Way We Learn?

15 January 2019 by Libby Cross

Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana are all examples of devices that use voice activation technology to perform simple commands. From setting an alarm and finding out the weather, to switching off the lights in your living room downstairs, the potential of voice activation technology is immense.

Transforming our lives daily, Voice Activation technology is set to also make a huge impact in the L&D world, substituting BBC news briefings and novelty ways of electronically controlling your home with topical learning content, business updates, recommended reading and more.

What is Voice Activation?

Voice Activation, also known as Speech Recognition, refers to the ability of a machine or program to receive and interpret dictation, and to understand and carry out spoken commands.

Voice recognition software programs analyze the sounds received by a transmitter and perform specific tasks based on the information given to them. Personal assistants (such as Amazon’s Alexa) will decipher the information inputted via voice and will then attempt to perform what has been asked of them.

How Does Voice Activation Work?

Surrounded daily by smartphones, smart cars, smart home appliances and various voice assistants, it’s common for us to assume that speech recognition technology is rather straightforward.

Yet, with an estimated 6,500 languages spoken across the world today, coupled with different traits in accent, intonation, inflection and pronunciation, the technology used for a computer to understand language as precisely as a human does is extremely complex.

Voice recognition software on computers requires analog audio to be converted into digital signals, known as analog-to-digital conversion. And for a computer to decipher a signal, it must first have a digital database (or vocabulary) or words and syllables, as well as the ability to compare this data to signals.

They work by linking speech recognition to complex Natural Language Processing (NLP) systems so that, not only can they figure out what you say, but what you actually mean and what you really want to happen as a consequence.

Voice Recognition for Elearning

Even today, L&D departments report that their biggest obstacle to a successful workplace learning scheme is a lack of motivation among learners. Employees old and new are readily equipped with the age old excuse, “I’m too busy to learn”, and until we encourage both employers and learners to bring learning into the flow of work, this could continue to be the case for many organizations.

Taking Amazon’s Alexa as an example, its Flash Briefing skill allows users to receive the most recent news updates from all major news outlets. For elearning, this skill could be customized to feature all the learning content and updates from a singular organization.

So, just as one might use Alexa to play a favourite album on Spotify, a learner with the app can access all their latest learning material with a simple voice command, ensuring their learning needs are catered for alongside their busy schedule.

Advantages of Voice in Elearning

For Learning Pool (formerly HT2 Labs), the value of introducing Voice Activation to Learning & Development is to encourage learning in the flow of life. Most of struggle to find time in the day to carry out all the tasks we wish we could, but with the help of Amazon and its Alexa, your learners might just find the time to learn during their commute to work every morning, whilst they’re cooking dinner for their family putting on a load of laundry.

We’re convinced that Voice in elearning will significantly increase the opportunity for your employees to fit their learning needs into their day-to-day.

For those with learning difficulties or disabilities, for example the inability to read, voice recognition allows organization to reach members of their workforce they’ve previously missed out on in terms of offering workplace learning and professional development.

Google expects that by 2020, 50% of all Internet searches will be carried out by voice, and approximately 30% of searches will be done without a screen at all.

And in terms of revenue, the global forecast for 2023 predicts that the speech recognition market should reach the approximate $16bn USD mark by the end of that year.

For more information on the recent technological advances and trends to hit the L&D world, head over to our blog.

Libby Cross
Senior Marketing Executive

Libby graduated from the University of Winchester in May 2018 with a degree in Media and Communication and soon after joined HT2 Labs as a Digital Communications Officer.

Following their acquisition in June 2019, Libby is now a Senior Marketing Executive at Learning Pool and with a keen interest in content marketing, Libby’s day-to-day involves blog writing, press releases, case studies and more!

Outside of work, Libby enjoys all things health and fitness related, including long walks and morning swims. Having spent 9-weeks travelling Central and South America before University, Libby is a keen traveller and you’ll often find her planning her next trip with her partner.

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