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10 Studying and Tech Hacks for Finals Week

April 26, 2017

We have finally reached the last week of classes, which means final exams are right around the corner. On top of exams, there may still be projects and homework due (how can they be so cruel?). To help ease your worries, here are 10 studying hacks and tech tips for surviving the upcoming workload!

  1. Make a “cheat sheet” for every exam (even if you aren’t allowed to bring it in)
    • Putting everything you know on a single piece of paper makes the class content a lot less intimidating
    • Rewriting your notes and organizing it in a way that makes sense to you will help you remember the content better–want proof this is true? Have you ever walked into an exam, cheat sheet in hand and didn’t look at the cheat sheet once? 
  2. Prepare for finals before finals week! 
    • Start now! Organize your papers from the semester, pinpoint those homeworks you did poorly on and redo them, prepare a barrage of healthy snacks to get you through long nights of studying, and make time to talk to your professors to get last minute help
  3. Enter into the world of podcasts
    • Meditation Oasis has a great podcast called “Mini Break for Work or Study” (scroll down to episode 36).
    • Try some Yoga! After a long day of studying, head up to Horsebarn Hill and gracefully stretch to your yoga podcast while gazing into the sunset! (You may think we are kidding but we are not. Trust us, it doesn’t get more relaxing than this!)
      Meditation Oasis
  4. Don’t forget to exercise! 
    • Exercising actually pumps more blood to your brain to deliver oxygen and nutrients. It can improve your memory and boost your mood.
    • Even for those who’s workout includes chewing and napping, taking a walk around campus or on the treadmill for 20-30 minutes is a great way to destress and stay motivated!
    • A great App to use would be “Zombies, Run!” (check out this fun health and wellness app here)
      Zombies Run Screens
  5. Do you get distracted online? Try using a browser app to whitelist pages!
    • Cold Turkey is one of many apps that can block distracting websites for a set amount of time. The basic version is available for free on Mac and Windows here
    • If you get stuck on your phone or tablet, there are apps that you can install that block apps. Or, you could put your device on silent, flip it over so the LED light is no longer visible, and put the device out of sight!
    • Remember, it isn’t social networking, its social not workingCold Turkey
  6. Try “spaced repetition” when studying
    • Spaced repetition is when you break information into smaller, manageable chunks and reviewing them over a long period of time
    • Not only will this help you avoid the stress that cramming causes, but it’s been proven to work!
    • Additionally, it helps reinforce what you’ve already reviewed. When you start your next study session, briefly review the prior material to ensure understanding
    • Using apps like Quizlet, studying in this manner can be quick and easy. You can use Quizlet to make decks of flashcards, and make each deck a “small, manageable chunk”!

  7. Cover material from different courses during your study session
    • Studying different material means we are strategizing how to solve different types of problems
    • Along with this, try studying in different locations. When you do this your brain makes new associations with the same material, thus creating stronger memories.
  8. Take frequent, short breaks 
    • Tide is an app that lets you get things done by breaking up individual event among discrete intervals, separated by short breaks (Available for Android and iOS)
    • It helps you stay focused in work and study! With one tap, you can easily start a focus and peaceful time accompanied by sounds of natural environment
    • Combines the most popular time management method Pomodoro Technique with nature sounds

      Tide App
  9. Get the right amount of sleep or make sure you wake up on time
    • As you sleep you go through different phases, ranging from deep sleep to light sleep. The phase you are in when your alarm goes off is critical for how tired you will feel when you wake up.
    • Since you move differently in bed during the different phases, apps can use built-in tech in your phone in your phone to determine which sleep phase you are in, and wake you when you are in your lightest sleep phase

    • If you don’t want to risk the chance of snoozing your alarm, or you want to make sure you get up in time, you can use an alarm app that only turns off if you take a picture of an object!
      • Alarmy is an app that has been cleverly designed to force you to get out of bed (available for Android and iOS).
        Alarmy
  10. Listen to instrumental music
    • Relaxing instrumental soundtracks can help you concentrate on studying. These sounds can help block distracting outside noise, while also helping you stress just a bit less.
    • Additionally, listening to certain song may help you remember what you were working on when you originally heard that song.

App of the Week: Pocket

March 29, 2017

As the name of the app suggests, Pocket is an application that is available on technology that fits in your pocket! Pocket is accessible on your phone, as well as on a tablet or computer. This app is somewhat similar to Pinterest, but rather than being used to save mostly pictures, it is used to save articles. It doesn’t require Wi-Fi to open articles once you’ve saved them and is free!

Pocket has a main feed called ‘My List’ of articles you saved, but you can also create tags to categorize them, and archive the articles you no longer need. My favorite part of Pocket is the lack of need for Wi-Fi, because it allows you to read articles anytime and anywhere! The app is available for both Mac and Windows users, and on both Apple and Android phones. Pocket has the potential to be a valuable research tool because of your ability to categorize articles and read them later without Wi-Fi. For those of you who take trips during the semester, and aren’t always certain if you will have access to Wi-Fi, or if you like to the ability to do your work regardless of where you are, this app is perfect for you! You can find more information or create an account on their website: https://getpocket.com/

Pocket Home Page

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Managing Anxiety with Meditation

March 22, 2017

Everyone has their own way of relaxing, and it is important to find what best works for you. A great option is downloading an app!

If you like to play games on your phone, you could try the app Zen Sand. The objective is to get the flowing sand into the vases using bamboo sticks. You use your logic to position the bamboo the right way so you can fill each vase. Therefore, while you are challenging your brain, the sand flowing into the vase is also very relaxing. This would be perfect as a quick study break; it keeps your mind active but also relaxes it!

Breathe would also be a great app to try! Anyone can use this meditation app, whether you have tried meditation before or not. When you first open the app it asks, “How are you?” Then you tap begin, and it asks you how you feel emotionally and physically, and then gives you a chance to add any other emotions you are feeling. At the end of the short questionnaire, it will pick specific meditations tailored to how you are feeling that day. If you need help getting to sleep, grounding yourself in the present, a quick pick me up, or any other meditation, this app has them! It describes the goal of each meditation in the details so you can target whatever it is that is bothering you. This is great for short, daily meditations, and you can even set a reminder to meditate and keep you on a schedule.

Read and Write Fact Folder

March 6, 2017

When you write a research paper, does your bookmark bar in your browser ever look like this?

Bookmark Bar: Ever have a TOO crowded bookmark bar?
Ever have a TOO crowded bookmark bar?

Just a list of links and page titles. Collecting the information, without a doubt is the easiest step. The hardest will be going back through all these pages, rereading, quoting, citing, collecting images, paraphrasing–shall I go on?
However, fear not esteemed colleagues; there is an easier way to organize your information for that paper that will save you both time and headache!

If you are a CSD student, you have access to Read&Write by Texthelp. This is a toolbar that sits on top of your computer screen, and is mainly used for its read aloud feature. Today I will tell you about the “Fact Folder” feature. “Fact Folder” works with your browser and helps you collect and organize data.
For an example, I am writing a research paper on wind turbines. I have two sources that are of particular importance: one I need to quote and one I want to keep a particular image. By using “Fact Folder” in Read&Write, I can save all of these and make a bibliography in the process.
1) Save quote:
Highlight your quote and click “Fact Folder”. A window appears. Automatically populated in the window is the title of the web page, the url link, and your highlighted quote. You can annotate the quote, add the author of the paper, and categorize the fact (such as “generator design” or “wind blade design”).

Fact Folder demonstration: saving facts
Saving Facts

 

2) Save an Image from the Web:
Click the “Fact Folder” dropdown arrow and select “Add Image from Web”. A pop-up will appear in the lower left hand corner of the screen instructing you to hover your mouse over the image. By placing my mouse over the image, the image will appear in this pop up and then the Fact Details pop up will appear. Fill in the name of the picture and annotate it as you wish. The source URL of the picture automatically saves.

Now that I have all my facts together, I can review them in a single word document by clicking “Fact Folder”>>”Review Facts” and clicking on the Word document icon.

Now, you have all your facts, organized clearly by source and category and your bibliography is already written!!

Fact Folder Summary: organized word document of sources and works cited page
Fact Folder Summary Document

(email us at csdtech@uconn.edu if you want it installed on your computer!

Apps+Tips on Time Management

February 27, 2017

Cardinal Rule of Time Management: Always carry around pocket work

Adapted Hopper, Carolyn H. 2016. Practicing College Learning Strategies, 7th ed. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

Have you ever felt like there was not enough time in the day to finish your work? One way to get the most out of your day is to make use of the time you may be spending while waiting. For example, time during awkward gaps between classes, waiting in line at Dunkin Donuts in the Student Union, or waiting for a machine to open at the gym. In particular, these times can be spent on completing “pocket work” that you can be carried with you. These include:

  1. Review flashcards of terms or concepts on your upcoming quizzes and exams using apps like Quizlet, Flashcards+ by Chegg, and Study Blue

    Quizlet Flashcards+ by Chegg Studyblue
     Available: 
    https://quizlet.com/ 

    Download from Google Play

    Download from App Store

    Available: 
    Mobile App OnlyDownload from Google PlayDownload from App Store
    Available:
    https://www.studyblue.com/

    Download from Google Play

    Download from App Store

  2. Print a copy of your homework and tackle some questions. If it is homework pertaining to science and mathematics, Wolfram Alpha is a knowledge engine that you can use to search related topics, as well as help you solve those tricky math problems! Wolfram Alpha is both an online resource (visit their website at https://www.wolframalpha.com/) and available for mobile devices in both the Google Play Store and App Store. Wolfram Alpha
  3. If you have an audio recording of your lecture, take this time to go beyond memorizing the content by focusing on understanding the presented material. CSD offers various note-taking assistive technology that allows you to record your lectures while you write or type your notes, such as the Echo Smartpen, Audionote, and Sonocent Audionotaker!
    Echo Smartpen Audionote Sonocent Audio Notetaker
  4. Create sound file of chapter summaries, review questions, or your course notes and store it on your preferred device! This method allows you to study while you are eating at the dining hall, working out at the gym, or waiting for your laundry to finish! CSD offers a software called Read&Write, which has a feature that converts text into an MP3 file.
    Read and Write Speechmaker

Questions?

Students interested in learning more, can either stop by or set up an appointment by contacting the Tech Team at 860-486-2020 or by email at csdtech@uconn.edu.
*Certain technologies may only be available to students with a related approved accommodation.

Zombies, Run! : App of the Week

February 20, 2017

A picture of the Zombies, Run! Logo

Zombies, Run! is a fun health and wellness app for Android and iOS devices.

Exercise and Game

Zombies, Run! is a game that encourages walking, jogging, and running. By playing the game, you can survive the zombie apocalypse and save your base from hardships.

Listen to Your Own Music

You can listen to both the missions and your own music at the same time. The app allows you to listen to external music from app such as Spotify and Pandora, as well as the music already downloaded on your device.

Zombie Chases

These help inspire you to pick up your pace a bit to escape the zombies! Additionally, it also helps vary your running speed. If zombies are chasing you, you aren’t going to want to slow down!

Improve Your Community

With the supplies that you automatically gather while out running, you can improve your base. After your run, strengthen your base against zombie invasions, or go ahead and build a farm to feed more people!

Compare With Other Players

The free ZombieLink service allows you to share your runs online!

Compatible Apple Watch App             

The Apple Watch app allows you to leave your phone alone while you run! It allows you to easily check your run progress, and it keeps a live supply count. Additionally, it allows you to select any mission you want, rather than just the next one.

 

If you would like to learn more, check out Zombies, Run! for iOS here , and Zombies, Run! for Android here . The first 4 missions of Zombies, Run! are free, with an extra mission unlocking every week. The Pro version is $2.99/month or $19.99/year, and has all of the story missions immediately unlocked.

CSDTech Purchases Sonocent Audio Notetaker!

February 1, 2017

Why is this important?

CSDTech tries to stay on top of new learning technology and software available on the market. We are always eager to explore promising software and applications to make sure our students have access to the latest and greatest. This past Fall 2016 semester CSDTech piloted a software called Sonocent Audio Notetaker. Students were sent out with Sonocent installed on their computers to tackle the always challenging task of notetaking. The feedback has been very positive from the students who were using the software. Moving forward CSDTech plans to purchase Sonocent Audio Notetaker providing our students with more technology-based notetaking options!

 

What is Sonocent Audio Notetaker?

Sonocent Audio Notetaker is a notetaking software that utilizes many valuable study features. Audio Notetaker organizes your notes by breaking up the audio recording of your lecture into sections. The sections can be tagged with colors making it easy to find important sections when reviewing your notes.  PowerPoints, PDF’s or images can be uploaded before or after lecture making it easy to synchronize the audio with specific slides or images. Being able to record audio side by side with PowerPoint slides has been a common positive feedback point. This makes it easy to go back to specific slides and replay what the professor was saying about the information displayed.

 

Sonocent Layout

 

How can I get Sonocent AudioNotetaker?

If you are approved for technology-based notetaking, simply make an appointment with the CSDTech Team. You can do this by contacting your DSP or email the CSDTech Team directly at csdtech@uconn.edu! We look forward to hear from you! Limited licenses available!

 

 

Learn more about Sonocent Audio Notetaker
Available for Mac and Windows.
Available on iOS and Android as well!

3D Printing

January 15, 2017

          3D printing is this brand new manufacturing process we now have that enables you to directly build your own ideas. You design your idea on the computer using CAD software, creating whatever you’d like! Once your design is complete, you convert it into a specific file which slices your design into hundreds, sometimes thousands, of 2D layers. The 3D printer then reads this file and starts printing one layer at a time. Yes, all of this sounds fun and exciting, but how can it be helpful for the Center for Students with Disabilities?

          People with disabilities often have needs that require personalized equipment to help them in everyday life.  Remember all those ridiculous infomercials like the Snuggie? How funny it seemed that people would be wearing a robe backwards? Well, this could actually be a great assistive device for someone with a disability, and because it is marketed to a mass audience, it’s very affordable. Assistive devices need to be cheap, efficient solutions, so why not use a 3D printer to create these tools?

          I am a Mechanical Engineering student at the University of Connecticut and am very interested in using the state of the art tools that are available through UConn to assist the students I work with. I want to learn how I could potentially 3D print something to assist students with disabilities at the University of Connecticut, so last week my boss, Alyssa Marinaccio, and I brainstormed. As we came up with ideas we decided we should start with something small. We went to one of the engineering buildings on campus and with the help of students in the lab we were able to 3D print the braille alphabet.

screen-shot-2016-12-15-at-3-56-31-pm

          With this successful endeavor, we look forward to coming up with more innovative ideas that will hopefully one day greatly benefit CSD and our student population.

Talking Calculator: App of the Week

January 2, 2017

Talking Calculator: App of the Week

A picture that shows the Talking Calculator's default setup.

Talking Calculator is a mathematical app for iOS products.

Text to Speech

By clicking on any of the calculator functions, the app will say aloud the full value of what is currently on the screen. It updates the spoken term as you type, so it won’t be saying the wrong number! Symbols, such as “=” (or “equal”) are spoken aloud as well. The app will even read out the final answer! There is also a volume adjuster in the app which is separate from the device’s audio settings.

Voice Options

The app can speak in your own voice, in the voice of someone you’ve recorded, or in the pre-downloaded voice!

Plenty of Layout Options

There are two general layouts: a default layout, which looks like the above image, and a simplified layout. The simplified layout has larger buttons and only operators and numbers on the screen. Additionally, there are also two different color settings: the Low Contrast setting (shown in the picture above), and the High Contrast setting (which has a yellow background with black buttons).

Simple to Use

This Talking Calculator can add, subtract, multiply, and divide, just like a normal calculator. It also can use exponents and take the square root of a number.

 

If you want to learn more, check out Talking Calculator by Adam Croser for iOS here. If you are looking for a talking calculator with more features, you should check out the iOS app Talking Scientific Calculator by Adam Croser. A similar Android version of Talking Calculator by Sanjeev Neupane is also available.

The Talking Calculator iOS version is $1.99. The Talking Scientific Calculator for iOS is $4.99, and acts like a full scientific calculator. The Talking Calculator Android app is free to download.

Sign Language Interpretation Gloves

December 5, 2016

 

Researchers around the world have been exploring a growing problem in the deaf community: how to facilitate communication between the 360 million people with hearing impairments and the orally-spoken world. Sign language is commonly taught to the deaf, however, rarely taught to the hearing members of the community. As a result, a communication gap exists. Signers must rely on a human interpreter or pen and paper to get their words across to friends, colleagues, or employers. The language barrier between the hearing and hearing impaired creates challenges from lost job opportunities to discomfort in friend groups and must be overcome by a person who relies on signing to communicate in the average social atmosphere.

signingglovesfeatured2Communication between the hearing and hearing impaired is a huge problem: we cannot allow millions of people to rely on interpreters or pen and paper to have a voice. That’s why college students like Hadeel Ayoub, Thomas Pryor and Navid Azodi, and Ranjay Krishna, Seonwoo Lee, and Si Ping Wang have been working on gloves that can translate hand gestures into audible speech.

Sensors in the gloves measure the change in position of a person’s fingers and hands. The signals are then processed by computer chips and translated into speech. Many different prototypes are being explored—some that connect to apps on your smartphone, others that display what the gloves translate via little screens attached to the wrists of the gloves, and others that communicate via laptop. However, all use the same principle of a wearable device that can replace reliance on human translators for the signing community, and one day could be more convenient than pulling out pen and paper to communicate everyday needs like your morning Starbucks coffee order.

As exciting as these gloves are, they are still in their early stages of development. Right now, they can only translate a few simple, distinct gestures, and will not be ready for commercial development for a few years. However, innovations such as these sign language translating gloves are just another example of how technology can break down disability barriers and give equal opportunity for all to communicate and thrive!