Tech’ top tips – #43. Open Source – an alternative way to go

This tip is provided by the Centre for Enhancing Learning through Technology (CELT). The images in this post will expand when clicked.

While at DMU, students have access to Microsoft Office 365 (on up to 5 devices) and other proprietary software; but what happens after? Well, if you don’t want to pay for proprietary software there are a number of Open Source options that students may wish to explore.

The LibreOffice logoLibreOffice is a powerful productivity suite that includes applications for writing, producing spreadsheets, authoring presentations and creating databases. Visit https://www.libreoffice.org/ to download the latest version (6 at the time of writing).

The GIMP logoFor photo editing, GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is heralded as being a great alternative to photoshop and many of the features are comparable. Version 2.10.12 can be obtained from https://www.gimp.org/

Although not Open Source, for video editing; Corel VideoStudio can provide a cheaper but fully functional alternative to more expensive video production software – VideoStudio can be download from https://www.videostudiopro.com/en/products/videostudio/

Tech’ top tips – #42. Time to browse for a new Browser

This tip is provided by the Centre for Enhancing Learning through Technology (CELT). The images in this post will expand when clicked.

The Blackboard logoFollowing the recent Blackboard upgrade staff and students may find that some areas of Blackboard no longer display correctly in Internet Explorer.

This is a known position and Blackboard have published guidance on supported web browsers here https://help.blackboard.com/Learn/Administrator/Hosting/Release_Notes/Browser_Support

Internet Explorer crossed throughInternet Explorer is listed as ‘Unsupported’ and therefore there is little that can be done other than use an alternative web browser. On DMU computers; Edge, Chrome and Firefox are available for use – it is recommended that one of these browsers is used when in Blackboard.

Tech’ top tips – #41. Lean Library update

This tip is provided by the Centre for Enhancing Learning through Technology (CELT). The images in this post will expand when clicked.

Search using Lean LibraryThere has been an upgrade to the Lean Library browser extension! Following an upgrade to this browser extension, users can now right click a term on a web-page and select ‘DMU Library Search’. This will then search the DMU Library resources for the term that has been clicked. The Lean Library browser extension is free and is compatible with most major web browsers.

For more information and a link to download the Lean Library browser extension click here.

Tech’ top tips – #40. OneDrive to drive them all

This tip is provided by the Centre for Enhancing Learning through Technology (CELT). The images in this post will expand when clicked.

The Office 365 MyDMU tileStudents, did you know that you have 1tb (yes, a whole terabyte!) of cloud storage at your disposal while at DMU?

Using your pnumber and password you can log in to Microsoft OneDrive via MyDMU or direct at https://onedrive.live.com/about/en-gb/signin/ to access your own personal storage.

The OneDrive iconUse your OneDrive to store copies of important documents, large multimedia files or anything else you want* 😊

Your OneDrive can also be synchronised with your PC to help make sure those really important files are backed up automatically.

*Student use of Microsoft OneDrive is subject to DMU’s student regulations and policies at https://www.dmu.ac.uk/current-students/student-support/exams-deferrals-regulations-policies/student-regulations-and-policies/index.aspx

Tech’ top tips – #39. Head(ing)s we all win!

This tip is provided by the Centre for Enhancing Learning through Technology (CELT). The images in this post will expand when clicked.

When writing using Microsoft Word it is useful to use the Heading Styles to ensure our documents remain as accessible as possible.

The Heading Styles in MS Word

To our eyes, formatting headings and sub-headings using just the font size/colour, bold and underline functions may look ok but to the computer these cosmetic changes mean nothing. By using the built in Headings Styles, we ensure that our headings are preserved for those reading our documents in different formats (on the web or as .pdf). More importantly accessibility technology such as screen readers will translate our headings properly and our documents will be more accessible.

Tech’ top tips – #38. Wellbeing, a few pointers for you

This tip is provided by the Centre for Enhancing Learning through Technology (CELT). The images in this post will expand when clicked.

While social media is a great way to keep in touch with friends, family and is even used in some contexts for learning; it is important that we are mindful about how we use social media and the potential negative effects on our health.

This article (mindful.org, March 2016) is particularly interesting as it relates our use of online social spaces to our real-life insecurities and how our online behaviour can court these emotions and feelings, thus leading to a negative effect. https://www.mindful.org/before-you-scroll-try-this-social-media-practice/

However it’s not all bad news. There are mindfulness app’s that we can install to help track and limit our use of potentially negative habit-forming platforms. There is also lots of advice about being mindful and healthy when interacting in online social spaces. A quick Google search will return numerous sites and articles – here’s a couple of examples to get you started:

Tech’ top tips – #37. High contrast in Blackboard

This tip is provided by the Centre for Enhancing Learning through Technology (CELT). The images in this post will expand when clicked.

After a long weekend in the sun I’ve been inspired to write about high contrast and Blackboard today.

As described in the previous Tech’ Top Tip #12 – Making the Computer Work for You; by applying themes and high contrast modes in Windows can help provide a tailored experience where required.

But how do we make sure Blackboard remains accessible?

As Blackboard is accessed over the Internet the web browser (Chrome, Firefox, Edge etc.) that we use should respect and apply any themes or high contrast mode that we have set in Windows. However, should you find that Blackboard is not being displayed in accordance with your preferences you can tell Blackboard to use the Operating System (Windows) styles by clicking on your name in the top right-hand corner of the screen and selecting Settings.

In here you will see a ‘High Contrast Setting’ link. Clicking this enables us to set Blackboard to ‘Yes, I will use Operating System styles to overwrite Blackboard styles’.

Select this and click the Submit button and Blackboard will then apply the theme or high contrast mode rather than its own style.