One of the University’s best-kept secrets is the vast amount of software available to help improve your studies. Not everyone has a traditional learning style. Some of us like to map our ideas out visually, others may prefer to hear things out loud to improve understanding; the key is everyone learns differently… By Laura Waller
The software can help you maximise your learning potential and offer different ways to tackle your work. Our software page has all the up to date information, with locations and further support, but just to give you a taste I will give an overview of 5 key uses.
Literacy tools Read&Write Gold and ClaroRead discretely float on your computer screen whilst you study. They provide grammar and study skills support, along with one of their most popular features ‘text to speech.’
Sometimes we can look at a piece of work for what seems like hours, and not notice an obvious mistake. By having it read back, you can ‘proofread’ your own work, and hear grammatical errors or faults in your work. Alternatively, you may prefer to sit back and listen to text rather than physically read it. Read&Write and ClaroRead act as screen readers allowing you to simply press play, rewind and stop.
It has many more handy features, so if this sounds like it could be for you, check out the Read&Write Gold StudyBuddy blog.
Often we think note-taking solely involves a pen and paper, but there is software which can also do the job! As part of our Microsoft 365 accounts, we can make use of OneNote, allowing us to make interactive notes, adding hyperlinks, images and tables, plus using colour and tags to help prioritise and organise. No need to worry about losing scraps of paper, you can access your notes anywhere by signing into our Microsoft account. Fancy giving it a try? ITS provide useful videos and quick start guides.
Rather than typing, you can talk! There are specific software packages available, such as Dragon and Read&Write Gold which support dictation. But now more frequently we can dictate using our phones, tablets, and computers. Options are even available as part of your Microsoft 365 account in Word, Outlook and PowerPoint.
So why dictate? Dictation can be used as an alternative to physically typing. It can save time thus improving efficiency, work within or as part of other software and can reduce stresses associated with spelling.
Headphones with microphones are available to borrow from the Library helpdesk and at Learning Grid sites.
Mind maps are a great way of visually organising information. They can be used to organise your time and resources, plan projects and to help tackle assignments and essays.
Mind maps can help you create a structure to your work visually and then export to your Word document, to allow you to expand upon. Even better, Essay Writer allows you to create a mind map in tandem with your written document, where the two are in sync. Any changes you make in your mind map, then update your written work, and vice versa, allowing you to visually change the structure if needed.
For those of us who work on computers frequently, using colour filters and reducing the brightness, rather than staring into bright white screens, may help with visual stress allowing us to work more comfortably. Colorveil is a free software which you can download directly or you can install on University computers via the software centre. If you wish to personalise your screen further, Read&Write Gold can tint the whole screen, sections of the screen or simply just create reading rulers.
Where can I access the software?
Software availability varies between accessible in the Library, networked across campus and some are downloadable for use on personal machines.
The Library’s assistive software page has up to date locations and further support for each software. Alternatively, email [email protected] if you require further support.
Are you familiar with the software available to help you with your studies? Have you tried any of those mentioned in this post? Tweet us at @warwicklibrary, email us at [email protected], or leave a comment below.
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