A helpful hand from Technology in the teritary environment

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A helpful hand from Technology in the teritary environment

As a student at University, technology can play a helpful role in allowing you to effectively engage with your studies. There are apps that enable you to store and access your files across all your devices; apps that let you take notes whilst simultaneously recording what's being said; and apps that allow you to annotate PDFs. There are apps that can help with organisation, support you to collaborate with others, enable text to be read aloud, and others that can convert speech into text.

The Equity and Disability Unit have put together some apps that hopefully you will find helpful for your studies. Please note that all symbols and underlined text have hyperlinks that will take you to further information about apps being described.
Online File Storage

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Dropbox is a popular app that allows you to store, access, edit and share your documents, photos and videos anywhere, and on any device (such as tablets, smart phones, and computers).
You can control your privacy settings, allowing you to selectively share information with friends and/or colleagues. You can also work with others as if you are using a single computer.
This app is free. For further information, go to https://www.dropbox.com/home .
Other apps that provide file storage include OneDrive, iCloud, GoogleDrive, and Box. Compatibility of these storage apps vary between devices.
Note Taking and Recording notability

Notability (for iPad and iPhone only) is a note taking app that allows you to record, write, type, and import docs, pictures and PDFs. It is also very good at helping you organise your notes thoughtfully.
When writing, you can chose to zoom in on the page, allowing you to write “big”, but have your writing produced in small form. You will be able to write effortlessly in the zoom mode, whilst having a view of the notes that you are developing. You can also audio record, allowing you to sync your notes with the recording (either typed or handwritten, giving context to your notes.
Notability is compatible with a variety of formats, including PDF, word and PowerPoint. Documents imported will be converted to PDF format.
Notability has the capacity to sync with many online storage apps. You can also share your notes via email.


IDEA - why not try opening your lecture slides in Notability. You will be able to develop your lecture notes directly onto the lecture slides, whilst also creating an audio recording that gives context to your notes. (Don’t forget to ask your lecturer if you can record the lecture for personal use, letting them know that you will delete it after you have made use of the material).
For further information, please go to http://www.gingerlabs.com/.

Other Note taking apps that might be useful in the learning environment include , AudioNote, SoundNote, & Notes Plus (Notes Plus has the added option that enables you to ‘Convert your handwriting into text’).

microsoft onenote

OneNote is a notebook that can sync seamlessly across all devices. Notebook has good organisation features, allowing you to create notebooks, folders, and sub-pages. It has the capacity to import photos, docs etc.

Other features include typing, hand writing (limited capacity at current time), annotating, audio recording, clipping information for later use, printing to OneNote, and importing emails. Features will vary depending on the platform (device) you are using.

This app is available on Windows, Windows phones, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android, and the Web.


IDEA – If you normally type your notes on the laptop, why not print/copy your lecture slides directly onto OneNote using your laptop. Use this as the basis for your notes. You can record whilst you are typing, but be aware that the tapping of the keys might be a bit annoying (a possible solution is a remote microphone). The quality of recording will vary depending on the device being used.

For further information, please go to http://office.microsoft.com/en-au/onenote.
PDF Reading and Annotating

iannotate logo

IAnnotate is a PDF annotation app for iPad and Android (Android currently has less functionality). You can read, mark up and share files, including PDFs, word docs, PowerPoint files, and images. Tasks, such as taking notes on the lecture slides, converting documents to PDFs, and annotating documents are all features of this app.

Some of the tools available in iAnnotate include pens, highlighter, Typewriter, notes, underline, and strikeout. You can sync files with file storage apps, such as Dropbox, for easy access to all your important information.

For further information, please go to http://www.branchfire.com/.

Other PDF annotation apps include GoodReader, and PDF Expert. Both these apps are currently only available on the iPad. Skitch is a simple PDF annotation tool available for Premium users of Evernote.

Text to Speech

Apple devices have inbuilt Text To Speech functionality – called ‘Speak Selection, which allows you to highlight, and then hear what is written (as long as the material is properly formatted. Please note that the software will not be able to ‘SPEAK’ hand written notes or photocopied documents). iphone speaking rateiphone speak out loud

Settings that you can control include the Voice/dialect, speed, and highlighting.

To turn on ‘Speak Selection’ (text to speech), go to ‘Settings’; ‘General’; ‘Accessibility’; and then turn on ‘Speak Selection’.

ClaroSpeak_has_a_word_prediction_feature'>ClaroSpeak is a text to speech reader available on iPhone and iPad. It allows accessible text to be read out to the user with a range of high quality voices. It offers the option of a wide range of voices, as well as various colour schemes and font settings to allow for optimal reading. https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:and9gcqlpy40rer58w2j81rdlxm7z2h9vzsevjeqep6cystny0l6lavx

ClaroSpeak has a word prediction feature that has the ability to become more relevant to the user with practice. It also has an inbuilt dictionary.

You can set the app to automatically highlight words as they are being spoken. ‘Speak Selection’ requires an internet connection to work.

ClaroSpeak enables Dropbox integration, allowing text and audio files to be saved directly to Dropbox. ClaroSpeak is available on all apple products and PC computers.

For further information, please go to http://www.claro-apps.com/clarospeak/.

Other text to speech apps available on the iPad, IPhone, PC, and Mac include NaturalReader and VoiceDream. http://www.clipartbest.com/cliparts/eim/aa6/eimaa6n9t.jpeg

IDEA – why not try listening to your assignment, to see if you can HEAR errors/irregularities in your work.


Evernote is a free app that allows you to save, share, organise and collect ideas and information. It enables the user to sync their notes and notebooks across all their devices. Users can chose to keep your notes and ideas private, or you can decide to share notebooks with friends and/or colleagues.

Evernote offers a premium option that allows larger files to be saved, collaboration with others, and a number of other add-on features.

Evernote is available on many platforms, including Android, Apple, and PC.

For further information, please go to http://evernote.com/.

Concept Mapping
Inspiration is a Mind mapping app for iPad, PC and Mac. It that allows you to brainstorm, plan, organise and develop your thinking skills. Some of the features of this app include the ability to develop your thoughts in either a mind map (bubbles) or linear form, re-order/prioritise your points, add hyperlinks, and pictures (either allowing you to import your own pics, or use the pictures available within the app. inspiration maps
There are a range of templates to choose from. Sharing can be done via email, Dropbox or iTunes.

This app provides a free trial. For further information on Inspiration, you can go to http://www.inspiration.com/.

IDEA - why not try Inspiration to develop an outline for your assignment, or use Mindmapping for Exam revision (you can expand/hide thought bubbles to test your knowledge. Pictures can be used as a tool to enhance memory.http://www.clipartbest.com/cliparts/eim/aa6/eimaa6n9t.jpeg

Other apps include Popplet (available on iPad and the web), Simplemind (available across Apple, PC and Android), and MindMeiseter (available on all iPad, iPhone, Android, and the web), and IdeaSketch (available on iPad, iPhone, Windows 8 and Windows phones).

iPad Basics

Apple also provides online guides which provide information for new and experienced users. Spectronics has a range of resources, including webinars on how to use your iPad. The Spectronics site also contains a webinar for first time users which you can access here: iPad Basics.

We hope that you find this information helpful. If you are using Assistive Technology not mentioned here that may benefit other students, it would be great to hear from you. Please contact Bettina Corcoran (Disability Adviser Melbourne Campus) or Brigitte White (Disability Adviser, Brisbane Campus) for further information.

It is expected that the resources and information on our website will continue to expand, with a current focus on developing a better understanding of what apps are potentially useful to students on an android device. We are also looking at developing some quick help guides on how to set up, and optimise the use of apps.

Please Note These applications have been listed as possible options for you to consider. They are neither academically mandatory, nor endorsed by ACU as exclusively suitable for your studies. Remember, we are only suggesting these applications for your use, ACU cannot support you specifically on the installation or use.  We strongly recommend that you read and understand the terms and conditions of any software before you use it, and that you recognise that you are solely responsible for how it is used and any risks or responsibilities you might encounter.

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Developed by Bettina Corcoran and Brigitte White,

Disability Advisers with ACU

Developed 26th June 2013, updated 3rd Oct 2013, 4th Feb 2014, 4th June 2014.

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