Tag Archives: studying

VitalSource for textbooks through Bookshare

Accessing your online textbooks doesn’t have to be a hassle! If you use Bookshare and have a Mac or Windows laptop/computer, you can use VitalSource to read your textbooks. Here’s how:

Download the Bookshelf app. This app is available for iOS, Android, Kindle Fire, Mac, PC, and Chromebook.

iOS, Android, Kindle Fire, PC, and Chromebook logos

Create an account, if you don’t already have one.

Download the book from Bookshare. After logging on to your Bookshare account, search for the book you want to read, open the download format drop-down menu, and select ‘EPUB.’ Hit ‘Download’ and your compatible book will begin downloading to your device. This will open your ‘My History’ page. Click the link next to your book to save it to your device.

Screenshot of page when trying to download a book as an EPUB file.
How to download EPUB file of book

Open the book on Bookshelf. Open the Bookshelf up and click ‘File’ then ‘Open.’ Select the EPUB file of the book you have just downloaded and it should open up for you in Bookshelf.

Search through your book. Click the Search icon, then type any keywords you are looking for to find them in your book. Click the Table of Contents icon to navigate to any certain part of the book.

Search and Table of Contents icons

Listen to the book.¬†Use the toolbar at the top of the screen to have the book read aloud. Click ‘Start Reading’ to begin and ‘Stop Reading’ to stop.

*According to the VitalSource website “Text to Speech functionality may not work for all VitalSource titles.” You should contact support if you have any issues with your ebook.

Read through the Bookshelf Overview. This resource serves as a great guide for anyone who is new to using Bookshelf to read their books. It explains how to open and search through your books, as well as how to highlight and take notes. You can also review your notes to study for tests and quizzes!

 

Office Lens

Office Lens logoUpdated May 1, 2020 with new Immersive Reader feature.

Mobile scanning apps offer incredible benefits for many types of users.

  • Trying to reduce paper clutter? Take a photo of it and recycle the original paper or return the library book.
  • Trying to be better organized? File your scans in a cloud-based notebook like OneNote so you can easily find them when needed.
  • Using text-to-speech because of dyslexia? Use your phone to snap a shot of that classroom handout and then load it into Voice Dream or another text-to-speech app.

While there are lots of mobile scanning apps out there, Office Lens is free, simple, powerful – and now has text-to-speech built in. Here’s how I used it with my iPad to snap and save a scan of our library’s Interlibrary Loan bookmark

1) Open Office Lens and hold your device to allow the app to frame the shot for you.

Screenshot of Office Lens framing the bookmark

I’m choosing to capture this as a document, as this will (1) cause Office Lens to ignore everything not in the frame and (2) will automatically run optical character recognition (OCR) on the shot to recognize the text. Choosing to capture a whiteboard would be appropriate for taking a shot of the whiteboard after a class. In either case, don’t worry if you are taking your shot at an angle–Office Lens will crop and present it as if you were shooting straight on.

2) Next, what do you want to do with your scan? You can easily export it to a number of Windows apps. Go ahead–put that whiteboard scan into a PowerPoint. Use your scan of a page from a physical book to paste a quote into a Word document. Save a scan of that handout to the course notebook you are keeping in OneNote. Or just email it to a friend.

Screenshot of Office Lens Export options

3) If you want to use text-to-speech to listen to your newly OCRed document, create a PDF and use iOS sharing to open it in Voice Dream.

Screenshot of iOS share Screenshot of Voice Dream reading the bookmark

Or export to OneDrive and open it in Read & Write‘s PDF Aloud on your laptop.

Screenshot of PDF Aloud reading the bookmark

4) If you want to hear text read aloud, use the Immersive Reader feature. Just take a photo of the document that you want read and click “Export to” then “Immersive Reader.” The app will recognize the text and it will read it aloud to you, once you press the Play Button. You can also increase and decrease font size, change word spacing, move forward and backward in the text, and alter the speaking rate.

Immersive Reader function. Shows application highlighting one word at a time as it reads the test aloud

Office Lens is available for iOS and Android.

Read and Write

text-help

We are excited to announce that SUNY Cortland has purchased a site license for Read & Write, a suite of reading, writing, and study tools for PC and Mac. The suite can be installed on any college computer and students may install it on their own computers.

Read & Write opens as a toolbar that hovers over everything else open on your computer or can be locked to the top or side of the screen, as seen below.

Screenshot of Read & Write toolbar locked to the top of a screen.

The toolbar allows the user to access the 30 or so features of the suite. It can be customized to allow users to focus on the handful of features they find most helpful. These features includes the following apps:

  • A text-to-speech app that highlights text while reading it aloud;
  • A scan and read app that allows the user to create searchable PDFs and other documents that can be read aloud;
  • PDF Aloud, an app that opens PDFs and reads them aloud;
  • Screenshot Reader, an app that allows the user to take a screenshot of part or all of the screen and then have it read aloud. This will be handy for students who want to have online homework read aloud and have been stymied by inaccessible Flash-based text.
  • A DAISY reader that allows students to read Bookshare and other DAISY files;
  • Speechmaker, an app that creates mp3 files out of text.
  • Study tools that can be useful for those doing reading and research with electronic documents, including several colors of highlighters and an app that inserts voice notes;
  • Writing tools, including a word predictor and an app that helps the writer sort through homophones and other confusable words;
  • An app that allows the user to graphically¬† organize ideas;
  • And more…

The toolbar includes drop-down menus to customize each app and view video tutorials of each feature, making them relatively easy to learn. That said, we will highlight some of the most useful features of Read & Write in future posts.

You may learn how to obtain a copy of Read and Write for your college-owned computer or your own computer at no charge by contacting Jeremy Zhe-Heimerman. In the future, we hope to publish a link that will allow any member of the SUNY Cortland community to download the software directly.

 

Microsoft OneNote

th When working with students in Disability Services and when teaching students of all abilities, I commonly come across students who would benefit from better organization. It’s not uncommon for students to make it through high school without having to keep good track of notes, homework, reading materials, and more. It can be a bit of a shock, then, to enter college and have to keep everything organized for five different classes taught by professors who don’t see it as their job to help you keep it together. What’s a student to do?

I started using OneNote for all of my note taking and organizing about a year ago and I haven’t looked back. It’s one great place to store everything you might need and then access it on all of your devices. For me, this has meant organizing everything from meeting notes to receipts to web articles to recipes. OneNote will also be particularly helpful for students who need help with executive functioning or just want to get organized. Here are some of the most useful features of OneNote along with some of its limitations.

Take Notes

Yes, this is the most obvious and basic feature of OneNote. Type notes into the app and save them in different notebooks and tabs within each notebook. As you’ll see, though, you can do much more than just type notes onto each page.

Web Clipper

Did you come across a great article online for a research paper? Use the OneNote Clipper to quickly and easily save the article in your OneNote.

Save Electronic Documents

Do you need a better system to keep your electronic documents organized? You can save PDFs, Word files, spreadsheets, and more in OneNote. That means you can have a tab devoted to a class you’re taking and you can save everything there–syllabus, class notes, reading assignments, PowerPoint slides, etc.

Photos of Documents

Have a paper document you’d like to save in OneNote so you can always find it wherever you are? Maybe you’d like to convert that paper document to a searchable PDF that you can also have read aloud to you in a text-to-speech app like Voice Dream. Office Lens can do both. An in-depth review of Office Lens will be coming in the future.

If you don’t want to mess around with another app like Office Lens, you can already take pictures of documents and save them in OneNote. OneNote will automatically run OCR on the document, which makes it searchable.

Audio and Video Recording

OneNote will record audio or video through your device’s microphone or camera and save it on a page in a notebook. Microsoft claims that you can type notes at the same time and sync those notes with the audio/video–a really handy tool for studying. On my iPad, though, I can’t do anything else while audio is recording. It seems the syncing feature is only available on Windows devices.

Math

This is a tool I haven’t used, but OneNote allows you to enter and solve some pretty complicated Math problems.

Handwriting

If you are using a touch-screen, you can write in OneNote with a finger or stylus. This could come in handy when taking notes in a class and needing to draw a diagram. You can even convert your handwriting to text if you want it cleaned up and searchable. I haven’t used this tool much, as I don’t have a stylus and find finger-writing clumsy. It also appears that the Lasso Select tool is not available on my iPad version, meaning I had to move to my PC to convert to text. But here’s a quick demonstration. I wrote this on my iPad:

Handwriting in OneNoteAnd then OneNote converted it to text perfectly:

converted handwriting

Syncs Across Multiple Devices

You can install OneNote on your phone, tablet, and computer–or access it on the web–and your notes will sync in real time. Free apps are available for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Amazon, and Chromebook. This can be handy for taking notes in class on a tablet and then accessing them later while studying on a laptop.

Shareable

Do you have a big group project coming up? You can share a notebook with everyone in your group. Everyone’s notes will be stored there so all can access at any time.

Searchable

While I keep my notebooks organized by tabs, as seen in the images above, all of your notebooks are searchable. So instead of navigating to a particular notebook and then a tab to find find a page, you can simply type a keyword into the search bar. I use this most often by searching for an ingredient that I want to use in a meal. OneNote will spit back at me all of the recipes I saved that have that ingredient in it.

This can be especially useful for studying. If you want to find all of your notes that mention a particular term or concept, OneNote will find them for you. Maybe it will even show you pages from a different class that will help you make connections you would otherwise have missed.

Free?

OneNote is free to install on your devices. The data in your notebooks is stored in Microsoft’s cloud storage product, OneDrive. SUNY Cortland students have 50 GB of storage through OneDrive, a pretty good sized amount to get you through your college career. If you have a personal Microsoft account, you currently may access 15 GB of storage free. Microsoft recently announced, though, that they are cutting that back to 5 GB, after which you may pay $2 a month for up to 50 GB or $10 a month for 1 TB and Office 365.

That means that OneNote is essentially free for SUNY Cortland students and others who are light users. My personal storage is getting to the point that I may have to think about a subscription down the road–just what Microsoft wants!

Summary

Those are just a few of the features in OneNote that may be most useful. The Google will find you all kinds of more complicated things you can do with it as you grow comfortable with the basic features.