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Minimise eye-strain with the BeeLine Reader alternative format

Eliot Hoving31 March 2020

The BeeLine Reader alternative format is now available on UCL Moodle for students and staff.

You and your students have almost certainly felt eye-strain from too many hours reading online, or confusion at staring at a wall of internet text and not knowing where to begin.

The BeeLine Reader provides an innovative solution. It works by adding a colour-gradient to text which allows the eye to focus and move along one line to the next. It designed to make reading online quicker and easier on the eyes. Here’s an example.

With the BeeLine Format:

Beeling alternative format. Font colour of text has a colour gradient to help with reading.

Without: 

Text before Beeline format. Font colour is black.

Example Text: Aerogel by Dr Zoe Laughlin licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

I personally found that it took a while to get used to the BeeLine colours, but thereafter I was able to identify key headings and sentences much more effectively.

You can try out the BeeLine Reader on your UCL Moodle course now. Simply locate a Word or PDF document, click the Ally download icon net to the file name and select BeeLine Reader. Ally will convert the document to an HTML file for you to read in your browser with the BeeLine colour gradient.

Due to COVID-19, students are likely to be reading more content online now that they don’t have access to UCL printing services. BeeLine Reader and Ally’s other alternative formats can greatly assist all students, especially those with specific needs, to effectively engage with digital content whilst supporting their health and wellbeing, so please recommend Ally’s alternative formats to your students. You can learn more about Blackboard Ally by reading the staff guide or promote it to students using the student guide.

Inspiration – Great News – It has been saved!

Michele Farmer29 January 2020

I have heard that Inspiration mind mapping software has been bought by another company and will be continued.

LinkedIn Learning student webinar

Caroline Norris8 November 2019

This webinar takes place on each of the dates below, all sessions cover the same topics:

  • Monday 18th Nov 1:00 pm
  • Thursday 21st Nov 4:00 pm
  • Friday 22nd Nov 8:30 am

Join any webinar

LinkedIn Learning is a library of over 7000 courses covering study and research skills, personal effectiveness, technical training, leadership skills, and much more.  All courses are delivered by experts and are of a consistently high quality.  UCL offers LinkedIn Learning free to all staff and students; you just need to use your UCL user ID and password to log in and you are good to go.

LinkedIn are offering a series of webinars to help you get the most out of using the platform.  Just choose any date and connect to the online session.  Anyone can attend but they are aimed particularly at students.

The topics LinkedIn will be covering are:

  • benefits of LinkedIn Learning,
  • benefits of Connected Profiles,
  • employability opportunities
  • deep dive into LinkedIn Learning Features and Functions.

Join any webinar

Inspiration software to be discontinued

Michele Farmer5 November 2019

SUBJECT: Inspiration Software, Inc. Closure Notice
For over 36 years Inspiration Software, Inc has been in the business of creating,supporting and selling software tools to advance thinking and  learning skills for learners of all ages.
Over the last few years, the market and technologies needed to serve our
customers have shifted tremendously.

After extensive consideration and with regret, we have decided to stop selling our products and close Inspiration Software. Therefore, as of 25th November, we will no longer be fulfilling orders.

We have notified Student Finance England of our plans to close Inspiration Software and are working with them to ensure there is an orderly exit from the DSA sector for Inspiration 9.

We do have some good news for our customers as our DSA products will continue to be supported and sold by other companies.

• Inspiration® Maps and Kidspiration® Maps will now be a part of
Diagramming Apps, LLC. Inspiration Maps is now a DSA approved product.

• Inspiration 9 IE customers can continue to find curriculum, customer service and tech support through TechEd Marketing at inspiration@techedmarketing.com or 01672 560387.

A dedicated Inspiration 9 support website for users will be launched in November.

For the foreseeable future, existing users of Inspiration 9 for Windows will be able to continue to use it as normal in their studies.

Inspiration 9 for Mac users are likely to face issues if they choose to upgrade their current operating system to Catalina, which doesn’t support 32-bit applications.

If you have any further questions on this matter, please do not hesitate to reach out to Reeza Awoodun (reeza@inspiration.com).

We thank you all for your support in recommending Inspiration 9 over these past years.
Yours sincerely
Mona Westhaver
President & Co-founder
www.inspiration.com

Software for Success

Jim R Tyson3 October 2019

Student research successWhat does it take to succeed in a student research project, or any research project for that matter?

Well, there’s a whole lot of stuff that Digital Skills Development can’t help with, and anyway, you’re all really good at that stuff: the scholarship, the domain knowledge, the research skills.  But, there’s an awful lot that we can offer.

Getting on top of the choices that face you now and planning what tools you will use will allow you to work out what skills you need to acquire and how you are going to acquire them.  And beefing up your digital capability will not only improve your chances of research success, but will add to your capital in an area that employers rate among top desirable job skills.

When people plan research projects, they often forget to work out what software tools and techniques they will use, what skills those tools require, and where they are going to get those skills.  Often, we think it will all just be obvious and somehow it will come together.  Well, in a way it usually does, but with a little planning and foreknowledge, we can transform these decisions from afterthought to opportunity.

Digital Skills Development are showcasing three new demonstration sessions to put you on the road to software success.  Each session introduces tools to tackle specific tasks for your research project.  We’ll look at:

  1. writing: is there life beyond Word?  Is there any reason to go there?  How do I cope with fussy formatting requirements?
  2. data analysis: is it worth learning to code, or can I cope by wrestling with my data in Excel?  I don’t do numbers, how can software help me?
  3. managing literature: imagine a world where your library and database searches link seamlessly  with your citation system and a database of annotated PDFs.  That world can be yours.

If you haven’t thought about what tools you will use for each of these tasks, or if you have thought about it but you’re just not sure what to do, these sessions are for you.  There will be demonstrations of different tools and approaches with guidance and discussion of what tool is best for the job.  If you think you know what software you are going to use, then we invite you to come along and  be challenged: there may be tools on offer that could smooth the way to a successful research project.

For the new year we are adding three In a nutshell sessions.  These are short sessions – usually around lunchtime – which illustrate a specific technique in one or other software package, so for example, we will be looking at importing survey data into Nvivo for analysis.

Now is the time to move beyond those good old coping strategies and tame the software beast.  These sessions will help you do it.  You can reserve your place on our booking system  which you can also find at https://tinyurl.com/s4s-ucl.

Do you have the skills?

Samantha Ahern11 September 2019

HeDecorativere in Digital Education we know that UCL’s student body is a diverse group with an equally diverse educational background. We also know that digital skills are an essential tool for everyday life and will support your studies.

We are therefore pleased to announce the launch of our new Moodle course Digital Skills Awareness@UCL.

This awareness course outlines the key digital skills you will need for your studies. It will not give you the digital skills – it is for avoiding surprises that make you say “no one told me I needed to know that!”.  It offers tips and advice from a variety of sources, including other first year students and university support staff, as well as helpful links and videos from around the internet.

But this is only part of the picture.

In our Moodle course Digital Learning@UCL, you will learn about the digital tools and services that you will encounter during your studies. This will include everyday services such as Moodle and Lecturecast, our lecturing capturing service, as well as the student blogging service UCL Reflect. The course also provides information about study support services and how to get started with IT services here at UCL.

To find out more about the development opportunities available to you visit the Digital Skills Development webpages.