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Immersive Reader

January 26, 2023

Immersive Reader is a free set of tools developed by Microsoft built into the latest versions of Word, OneNote, Outlook, Teams, and Edge (among other applications). If you are one of the many, who finds reading or retaining information when reading difficult, Immersive Reader may be for you!

Let’s unpack each of the tools that are a part of Immersive Reader…

Read Aloud

Is a tool that audibly reads text on a page (it reads it aloud 😊). In the Read Aloud tool you can navigate through the text, skipping to only the most important information, or re-reading (re-playing) key pieces of information, and you can also adjust the voice options, changing the readers’ voice or slowing down/speeding up the reading pace.

Text Preferences

Text preferences allows you to adjust the text, including text size, text spacing, column size and page themes.

  • Adjusting text size to either increase small and difficult to see fonts, or decrease large fonts to better fit on your screen
  • Adjusting text spacing increases the white space between words, which can improve reading comprehension and speed
  • Page themes allows you to choose from a variety of page and text colors, which can reduce the experience or severity of eye strain from computer use

Grammar Tools

Is designed to support reading comprehension by allowing you to split words into syl·la·bles, as well as highlighting parts of speech such as nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs.

Reading Preferences

Features settings designed to support visual tracking, comprehension and memorization.

  • Line focus allows you to highlight a set number of lines at a time, this can be useful if you experience difficulties with visual tracking, or find that you often lose your place while reading
  • Picture dictionary brings up a basic image of many of the words in your text, which may help with word comprehension, and may also support memorization in more visual learners
  • Translate changes all of the text on the page into another language, supporting individuals to read and understand text not in their main language

Why should I use Immersive Reader?

Immersive Reader allows each individual to customize their reading experience to better match their learning styles, preferences and needs.

…but wait… Immersive Reader, Kurzweil 3000… which is better?

Neither! They’re both awesome! …so why highlight two resources that are the same? While Immersive Reader and Kurzweil 3000 are similar, they are not exactly the same as each resource has features that the other does not. For example, Kurzweil 3000 allows you to highlight and extract important pieces of information, while Immersive Reader has additional reading preferences and grammar tools that Kurzweil 3000 does not. Kurzweil 3000 also goes beyond reading supports with writing and study supports built-in as well. Keep in mind, both are FREE resources, and there is nothing wrong with using both!

Resources:

OneNote

January 12, 2023

Did you know that Red River College Polytechnic offers the latest version of Office 365 applications such as Word, PowerPoint and OneNote, free of charge to students? True story!
Webpage: RRC Polytech, Microsoft Office 365

Now with that being said, Tech Tips wants to highlight a powerful tool within Office 365 – OneNote. For those unfamiliar with OneNote, think of it as a digital 3-ring binder. Take notes, edit your notes, use Immersive Reader to listen to your notes, add in images and visual content, and more, across all of your courses, throughout your program. No more carrying around multiple paper notebooks and heavy binders or forgetting your notebook at home.

OneNote has so many great features built into it that we cannot possibly cover it all in one blog post. So, to start, we are going to look at the basics of OneNote: what is OneNote, creating notebooks, and taking notes.

Step #1 – What is OneNote?
Webpage: What is OneNote (video and text descriptions)

Step #2 – How do you take notes in OneNote?
Webpage: Taking Notes with OneNote (video and text descriptions)

Step #3 – Formatting your notes
Webpage: Format Notes in OneNote (video and text descriptions)

Think of this as a start to exploring all that OneNote has to offer. We’ll be back in the coming weeks to look into more of the amazing features that OneNote, and other Office 365 applications have.

(One)Note: while OneNote does allow for audio recording, this feature may not be used without instructor permission or an approved accommodation through Accessibility Services.

Winter Term Welcome

January 5, 2023

Welcome 2023! We hope you all had a restful, relaxing, and enjoyable holiday season. To returning students, welcome back! To new students, we are happy to have you join

For those of you who are new to the Tech Tips: Work Smarter, Not Harder blog post, our goal here is to show you different technologies, or different ways of using technology, to make your academic life easer.

To start off the new year and the new term, we’d like to take a look back at our posts from 2022 (that’s what are the cool blog posts are doing these days, right?!):

  • Kurzweil 3000 – is FREE software primarily designed as Text-To-Speech (read-aloud technology), but also many other features built-in to support writing, comprehension and studying
  • Brightspace Pulse – is a FREE app developed by the same company that developed the LEARN platform. This app communicates with LEARN and helps you organize and remember important dates across all your classes
  • Accessibility Features of WebEx – this blog post focuses on user-enabled accessibility features built-into WebEx, a web conferencing platform used by many programs within the college
  • The Academic Success Centre did a take-over of the Tech Tips blog and highlighted two very important technology resources they have available to students:
  • Pomodoro & Forest – this blog post offers a suggestion to support students with the ever-increasingly difficult task of time management. But, with a fun spin that can lead to trees being planted in the real world!

As for this year, who knows what the tech tips blog will explore! Voice dictation? Immersive reading? Bionic reading? Fonts designed for specific disabilities? Apps for mental health? Citation technology? Website blockers? The possibilities are (quite literally) endless!

Have an idea for a tech tips blog post? We’d love to hear from you! Please email your ideas to eament@rrc.ca.

Pomodoro Technique & Forest App

December 15, 2022

The Tech Tips Team is back, and before we dive into our next blog post, we wanted to extend a warm welcome to the Academic Success Centre for sharing some of the tech resources available for students!

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming! This week we’d like to talk about something we all struggle with at some level – do you need help with staying on task?  Do you get anxiety thinking about deadlines or due dates? Wonder if you are working on the right task at the right time? Or need a little extra motivation when it comes to completing your schoolwork?

You are not the only one! Students these days have more demands and obligations on their shoulders than ever before, and sometimes even deciding what to do can be the biggest hurdle.

So what’s the solution? Well, do you like video games? Or trees? (Yes, we’re still in the same blog post…)

Forest is a fun app built off of the Pomodoro Technique. The Pom-oh-door-oh-what?… The Paa-muh-daw-row Technique. This technique structures your time into smaller chunks of work and break periods, with the thought that it is easier to focus for a short period of time, rather than a longer period of time. Knowing at the end of that work cycle you get a break, also helps motivate you to stay on task during the work cycle. It can be less overwhelming to break your day into short work cycles and stack them on top of one another, than to think about working all day long. The goal is for solid focused work, even in short periods – it’s the quality of your work that matters, not necessarily the quantity (amount of time).

…and if that didn’t sound good enough on its own, let’s throw Forest into this mixture for success.

Forest is an app available for both android and iOS, as well as a web extension, that takes the Pomodoro Technique, and gamifies it! When you start a work cycle, you plant a seed. As your work cycle progresses, your seed grows. If you successfully complete your work cycle, your tree is planted into your (wait for it) Forest! The more successful work cycles you complete, the more trees you plant, the more trees you plant, the more coins you get, which can be used to buy different tree seeds to plant.

Not into growing a digital forest, but like the idea behind the app? What if we told you that instead of using your coins to buy different tree seeds, that you could spend those coins to plant real trees?!?! Now not only are you using the Pomodoro Technique to help motivate you and keep you on track, but you’re having fun while doing it, and making a positive impact in the real world!

Forest has both freemium and premium platforms available, meaning you can give it a try before you spend any of your hard-earned (real-world) coins on it!
Webpage: Forest, Chrome Web Extension
Webpage: Forest, App Store Download
Webpage: Forest, PlayStore Download

Note: this will be our last Tech Tips blog post for the 2022 year. Thank you to all who have read and supported the blog!

Image of evergreen trees and snow on a blue background. Text reads: Seasons Greeting's, wishing you peace and prosperity for the holidays. The RRC Polytech logo is located at the bottom right of the image.
Image of evergreen trees and snow on a blue background. Text reads: Season’s Greetings, Wishing you peace and prosperity for the holidays. The RRC Polytech logo is located at the bottom right of the image.

Tech Peer Tutors

December 1, 2022

ASC here again! We haven’t given up our takeover of the Tech Tips blog just yet!

Last post we talked about the Technology Literacy Module. Maybe you enrolled and worked through the course, but are finding you are still in need of some tech supports? Never fear, the ASC is here!

Did you know you can book an appointment with a Tech Peer Tutor for individualized help with navigating your online courses? (Hint, the answer is yes!)

Tech Peer Tutors can help you familiarize yourself with a specific College application and help you gain the basic-foundational tech literacy skills you need to be successful online.

To book an appointment with a Tech Peer Tutor, please visit Webpage: ASC, Supports for Students – Tech Peer Tutors

Technology Literacy

November 17, 2022

Are you feeling a little overwhelmed with all of the different technology platforms that you need to use as a College student? WebEx? LEARN? Teams? Other?… Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!

The ASC (or Academic Success Centre) has taken over the Tech Tips Blog this week and is here to tell you about the Technology Literacy course you can self-enroll in!

The Technology Literacy module is a self-directed tutorial designed for students that provides basic skill development for using College-approved applications, including LEARN, HUB, Webex, MS Teams, and Office 365. There is even a section on “Technical Support at RRC” which lists units within the College that provide technical troubleshooting support to students including ITS Service Desk and LEARN Support.

Bonus! This module is developed with UDL or Universal Design for Learning (also known as Inclusive Design for Learning) in mind and provides content through a variety of means.

To find out more, or to self-enroll in this module, please visit – Webpage: ASC, Supports for Students – Technology Literacy

Accessibility Features of WebEx

November 3, 2022

In honor of the college’s inaugural Inclusion Week, this Tech Tips blog post is focused on inclusion and accessibility features of WebEx. Features you can enable for yourself!

Color Themes: allow users to pick a theme with contrasting colors that best suit them
Webpage: Adjusting Color Themes in WebEx

Font Size: control the size of the font in the chat
Webpage: Adjusting Font Size in WebEx

Screen Reader Support: WebEx regularly tests the platform with different screen reading software, and provides guidance on seamlessly using screen reading software in WebEx
Webpage: Screen Reader Support in WebEx

Keyboard Shortcuts: allow a user to navigate and participate in WebEx using their keyboard rather than mouse clicks
Webpage: WebEx Keyboard Shortcuts

Closed Captions: are an automatic text display of spoken content. This allows users to read what is being said, rather than listen. WebEx also allows for captions to be generated in a variety of additional languages other than English!
Webpage: Closed Captioning in WebEx

Brightspace Pulse – a BRIGHT Idea!

October 20, 2022

Do you have trouble staying on top of all of the test dates and assignment due dates across all of your courses? Have you tried to write them all down but forget to look at your calendar (or forget to write them down)? Well we’ve got a bright idea for you!

Brightspace Pulse is an app developed by the same company as the LEARN platform (think of Brightspace Pulse and LEARN and best friends who talk all the time). That means if LEARN knows something, Brightspace Pulse knows it too – if your assignment due date or test date is listed in LEARN, Brightspace Pulse knows about it too.

So if LEARN and Brightspace Pulse have the same information, why do I need the Brightspace Pulse app? The benefit to having the Brightspace Pulse app is that you are able to visually see, across all of your courses, important dates for the week (month, etc…). You can even set up notifications to help remind yourself of upcoming due dates or test dates.

Want to take it a step further? Within the app you can manually enter important dates. Set yourself up the task of studying or working on an assignment, and receive a reminder to work on that task! You can also indicate appointments in your calendar for College supports such as Tutoring or Accessibility Services. Now not only is Brightspace Pulse reminding you of important dates, it’s giving you a friendly nudge to study, and reminding you of appointments you’ve set up.

I’m sold! But…what does this cost? Zip, zilch, nada. It’s totally free to download and use. 🙂

Downloads:

Additional Resources:

NOTE: While this app was developed with integration and communication between the app and LEARN in mind, students are responsible for ensuring accuracy of important dates, or adding in any dates that might not already be reflected.

Kurzweil 3000 – FREE Software

September 22, 2022

Kurzweil 3000… what…is that?

Kurzweil is based on the concept of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) which aims to present information to learners in different ways that is accessible to as many people as possible.

The main function of Kurzweil 3000 is text-to-speech. Kurzweil has many versions available for use allowing students (and staff) to have text read aloud to them, including content on the internet (and yes, that includes course content in LEARN!).

So if you are looking for a way to reduce your screen time… reduce eye strain or headaches from computer use… change up how you’re studying or interacting with your course content… or simply like trying new things, we encourage you to sign up for a FREE Kurzweil 3000 account!

Psssssst @RRC Polytech Staff, Kurzweil is a great way for you to check if your documents and course content is accessible!

…did we mention it’s totally free to use? No credit card or payment info required. 100% free. No strings attached.

I’m in!! How do I sign up??

All current students (and staff) of RRC Polytech are able to access Kurzweil for free (did we mention that already?!). In order to register for your account, please visit RRC Polytech, Kurzweil Self-Registration.

Tech Tips – Work Smarter, Not Harder!

September 9, 2022

Image Description: an open laptop and a plant on a table. On the screen of the laptop is the text "Tech Tips, work smarter, not harder". In the bottom right corner of the image is text "presented by student accessibility services" and the RRC Polytech logo.

Student Accessibility Services is proud to launch our new Tech Tips blog!

The goal: encourage the use of technology to make your academic life easier!!

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you an auditory learner and would rather listen to text than read text?
  • Do you want tips on how to reduce eye strain from computer use?
  • Do you find yourself having trouble staying on top of due dates, assignments, and coursework?
  • Are you a multi-tasker looking for ways to work on your courses while getting chores done around the house (or getting out and enjoying nature)?
  • Do you need help taking notes? Studying? Thought organization? Task/time management?
  • Do you want to have different options and mix things up?!
  • Are you willing to give tech a chance and see how it can support you?!

Then stay tuned for upcoming posts! We’ll highlight features of programs you already have, are available to you as an RRC Polytech student, or are available for FREE!

Notices will be posted in Student and Staff news when new blog posts are added… We all learn differently, so why can’t we all use tech differently?!